Emergencies can happen, and if they do, the better you are prepared, the faster you can take action and protect your home and family. Being prepared means not only having a plan, but also staying informed about and connected to your community.

Staying Connected, Staying Informed

Emergency situations can change quickly, and being informed of the latest developments in real time can help you stay safe.

“We always say that knowledge is power,” says Cesar Pedraza, Deputy Fire Chief of the Brownsville Fire Department in Texas and a user of Neighbors Public Safety Service. “Emergencies, by nature, can be unpredictable. The more you know, the more information that you have, the more powerful your plan.”

Following local TV news and trusted online sources can help you stay aware of up-to-the-minute updates. Keep your phone handy, too, for Emergency Alert System messages you may receive from state and local public safety officials in situations like natural disasters.

Digital platforms like Neighbors can also help keep you connected to your community during an emergency, providing hyper-local real-time alerts from your neighbors, the Ring Team and local public safety agencies in some areas.

“When it comes to neighbors, they can be our most reliable sources in times of emergencies,” Cesar says. “We encourage our neighbors to share information about disasters, disaster preparedness, about their pre-plans, utilizing apps such as the Neighbors app.  It’s also a great way to virtually get to know your neighbors and it’s specific to your neighborhood.”

You can also use Ring devices to stay directly connected to your home or property during an emergency, even if you are not there in person.

During the 2018 California Wildfires, Ann was evacuated from her home. But, using her Ring Video Doorbell, she was able to keep an eye on her house remotely. One night she received a notification from her Ring App that there was motion at the house, and she used the two-way talk feature to call out to a firefighter who was checking on the property.

The firefighter, Liam, provided Ann with the latest about where exactly the nearby fire was located. He also gave Ann some needed assurance, saying “I think you have a pretty defensible home.” In turn Ann was able to share her gratitude, telling Liam, “Thank you so much for doing what you’re doing.” Ann says the interaction made her “just burst into tears. I was so relieved, and I slept well.”

Protecting homes comes to mind first when planning for an emergency, but business owners may want to monitor their properties as well. Gumption cares a lot about his beloved boat. It’s key to his work in ecotourism in the British Virgin Islands, so even in regular weather, making sure his boat is secure is a chief concern that he says quite literally keeps him up at night.

But with Ring Spotlight Cam, he doesn’t have to get out of bed — he can simply look at the Live View on his Ring App. So even during an emergency, like Tropical Storm Karen, Gumption has peace of mind, he says, calling it “relaxing” to be able to keep tabs on his boat.

How to Make a Plan

To be prepared to act quickly, you’ll need a plan. Start by thinking about what potential emergencies could affect you. Some are more universal, like a house fire or gas leak. Others are specific to certain locations, like a flood, hurricane or blizzard.

“When it comes to pre-planning, I like to use an analogy: You’ll never see a professional sports team or even a professional athlete enter any arena or stadium without pre-planning and practicing,” says Cesar. “The same goes for emergencies. Practicing your plan [helps you] protect yourself and your loved ones.”

It’s best to make a plan before you might need it. Here are some tips from Ready.gov about how to put it together:

Step 1: Start by discussing  these questions and scenarios with your household members. Think about items like shelter plans, evacuation routes and how you’ll communicate as a family.

Step 2: Consider what your specific household may need. Discuss factors like dietary and medical considerations, age-specific needs of your household members and who’s responsible for pets.

Step 3: Fill out a Family Emergency Plan. Try this template.

Step 4: Build a kit with basic disaster supplies including water, non-perishable food, a flashlight with fresh batteries, first-aid items and more. Use this checklist to get you started, and plan to prepare kits for home, work and your car if applicable.

Step 5: Practice your plan with your household.

Be in the Know About What Happened

Staying connected to your property is helpful not only during an emergency, but also after it’s resolved. It can help you understand exactly what happened — like when a quick-moving, severe storm moved through Michael’s neighborhood while he was at work. It had passed by the time he came home, at which point he discovered part of his neighbor’s tree in his backyard. Because his Ring Video Doorbell recorded footage of the storm, Michael was able to watch the footage back and see the strength of the squall.

“I would not have seen the severity if it was not for the video,” says Michael, who shared it on Neighbors. Several neighbors were very glad I posted the videos as they too were curious [about] how bad the storm really was.”

As a Ring Video Doorbell owner himself, Cesar says, “that’s extremely valuable and extremely important to give you a sense of security.” He knows firsthand: He was recently called to duty during a hurricane, and he was able to check on the Ring App that his home was safe from flooding and debris.

Having this kind of insight and footage can give you closure after an emergency and be helpful if you need to contact insurance companies, neighbors or other parties about what happened.

Start planning today for emergencies so you’ll be safe and prepared if something happens. A great place to begin is to connect to your community on Neighbors. For more tips and details about emergency preparedness, visit Ready.gov.