A storm is brewing. Are you ready?

Even if you’re reading this when the skies are sunny and blue, chances are, sooner or later, you’re going to be confronted with inclement weather. Maybe you live in a part of the country that’s visited by hurricanes or tornadoes. Perhaps you live in a snowbelt. If you’re in the West, maybe wildfires, earthquakes or dust storms are your concern. Whatever your variety of weather, what will never change is the importance of keeping yourself and your family safe. So, please, keep the following in mind when preparing for inclement weather.

Stock up now. If you know you live in the part of the country where a blizzard may shut down your community, or a hurricane could upend your town, now is the time to think about how you want to prepare — not later, when time and tempers are short. Items to consider:

  • Flashlights
  • Batteries
  • Matches
  • A weather radio (in case your cell phone doesn’t work)
  • A generator with gas
  • Bottled water
  • Canned foods
  • A can opener

You don’t need to pretend the apocalypse is coming, but if you do some minimal preparation now, you won’t have to be rushing like a madman to get everything done at the last second when a storm does come. If enough time passes without any serious weather, you can always pull out the bottled water and canned goods and take them to the kitchen to be consumed and replace them with fresh supplies.

Make a checklist. If you really want to take things seriously, this would be a good time to make a checklist on your smartphone of the bigger preparations you’ll want to do or purchase the next time a really big storm is coming. Maybe you need a new snow shovel and don’t want to buy one now. Fine. But put it on the list and keep an eye out for sales.

If you’re worried about a hurricane, jot down a list of things you’ll want to do to protect your home, from boarding up windows (maybe the time to purchase boards is now) to making sure your garage isn’t whipped open by the wind (in which case you may want to buy garage door braces, which can run from $100 to $200; they fasten to the garage door to keep it from blowing open and away).

Well, you get the idea. The time to plan for the worst is when the weather is the best.

Have an escape plan. If you’re in part of the country where there are hurricanes or serious flooding, you may want to talk to friends or family who live far inland and discuss nowwhether they’d mind you and your family crashing at their place if you need to. You could save up some just-in-case-I-need-a-hotel money as well.

If you live in a tornado-prone area, and especially if you know you live in a home that couldn’t withstand a tornado, like a trailer in a trailer park, you should have a plan where you can make an easy and quick escape to a safe place. Maybe you can go to a shelter or bang on a neighbor’s door and ask to be let in. Whatever your plan, it’s always better to be overprepared than underprepared.

Don’t let your guard down after the storm. Sometimes, you’re the safest during the storm — and the least safe afterward.

Consider this: In 2011, a study by the Center for Injury Research and Policy, of the Research Institute at Nationwide’s Children’s Hospital, found that an average of 11,500 snow shoveling-related injuries and medical emergencies were treated in American emergency rooms every year from 1990 to 2006. Another study, also conducted in 2011, found that in Ontario, Canada, 7 percent of the patients who came into the ER with heart-related problems had been shoveling snow when their health began to take a turn for the worse. Perhaps you should consider pre-arranging for someone to help with the chore — whether a nimble neighborhood kid or a snow removal service. Let’s put it this way, we’re happy to have you come and visit American Family Care, but we’d rather it be because you would like a fill or prescription or simply get a DOT physical!

But it isn’t only after a snowstorm that conditions can be dangerous. According to AccuWeather.com, after Hurricane Irma pummeled Florida in the fall of 2017, dozens of households were poisoned by carbon monoxide. Fortunately, most of the people survived. But, remember the suggestion earlier about buying a generator? Please make sure you truly are comfortable operating it. According to recent numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every year at least 430 people die in the U.S. from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning. Approximately 50,000 people in the U.S. visit the ER every year for the same reasons.

And after serious thunder and windstorms, it’s become all too common to see a local newscast report that a homeowner went outside in the dark to check around their house and stepped on a downed power line. That can be a deadly mistake.

If you think about it, we tend to prepare for good health in many ways. We get our flu shot (You have gotten your flu shot, right? You can get one at AFC Urgent Care Beverly.) We get annual physicals (You can come to American Family Care for that, too). We try to eat right. We exercise. We do all sorts of healthy things. But we’re busy, and we’re an optimistic lot, and so many of us don’t prepare for inclement weather. But chances are, at some point, a storm will be brewing. Are you ready?