Speaking with officials about what one can do to be prepared in the event of a disaster puts people in a position to be proactive versus reactive.

Here are a few things Jeremy Zidek of Alaska’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management says one can do when regular life suddenly changes.

  • Have a copy of your critical documents on a disc or thumb drive. Store it with a trusted family member outside of your immediate area: “Many times, when a home is destroyed, those critical documents have been destroyed, as well. That puts you in a situation where you have to seek out all of those documents.”

  • Have a wood stove, backup generator, safe propane system or alternate heat source to heat up your home: “If the power's out and you don't have heat, you may have to leave your home and go to a shelter. If there's some way to safely heat your home, then you can stay there. Shelters are crowded places, stressful places. If you can stay home, it's better for the response and better for recovery and ultimately better for individuals and families.”

  • Have a Plan: “Where are the kids going to go, who are you going to call? Having an in-town contact and also an out-of-town contact is a beneficial thing. Many times during the disaster, you can’t call within a community, but you can call outside the community, so it’s ideal having that out-of-town contact everyone can call and say, ‘We're safe, this is where we are.’ It can set everyone at ease after that major event.”

  • Have an emergency kit with seven days’ worth of food and medicine: "In that kit, you'll want food, water, alternate heat sources, blankets, first aid kit, anything your family (including pets) might need that's specific to your family, like medication and comfort items for the children.”

  • FEMA fact sheet about getting help after a disaster

  • Alaska emergency preparedness

  • Rebuild your finances after a disaster

  • Know Your Plan, Know Your Coverage, Know Your Stuff (mobile apps from Insurance Information Institute)