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7 myths of disaster preparedness

By Cindy Waxer on May 2nd, 2012

Figuring out what you are and aren't supposed to do in the event of a disaster can be mind-boggling. Here's the skinny on today's most common myths, and what you really need to do to stay safe during a hurricane, tornado, earthquake or wildfire.

Myth: Stand inside a doorway during an earthquake.

Reality: Standing in a doorway is just going to get you injured by debris. Rather, homeowners should drop to their knees, cover their heads, hide beneath a heavy table or piece of furniture and hold on. Besides, dashing for a doorway is much more likely to put you in harm's way than standing your ground.

Myth: Open the windows in your home to equalize the pressure caused by a tornado.

Reality: Wrong. Standing in front of a window is probably one of the worst things you can do in the event of a tornado. Not only could you be injured by flying objects but you risk getting sucked right out of your home. Instead, find a windowless area for cover, like a shelter or basement.

Myth: Tape your windows during a hurricane.

Reality: Taping your windows will only lead to an even greater risk of getting sliced by large shards of taped-together glass. Instead, invest in a window protection system like impact-resistant windows or hurricane shutters.

Myth: Get out of your car and jump in a ditch when caught in a tornado.

Reality: If seeking the shelter of a home or building isn't a possibility, experts recommend staying in your car. Put on your seat belt, crouch below window level and turn on the ignition so that air bags will deploy if an object hits the vehicle.

Myth: Stay in your home in the event of a wildfire.

Reality: Always heed evacuation orders. Always.

Myth: You're ready for all types of disasters.

Reality: Creating an emergency medical kit isn't enough. It's critical that you update your kit on a monthly basis with fresh food and water supplies, as well as new batteries.

Myth: No matter what, the government will cover the costs incurred during a natural disaster.

Reality: Rather than put all your faith in government agencies, read your home insurance policy and all its fine print to find out exactly what is and isn't covered in the event of a disaster.

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