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Midwest winters bite back: Are you prepared?

With autumn winds biting, now’s the time to prepare for the trouble that Midwest winter can bring.

“A disaster can happen on any scale. Something as simple as a power outage at the wrong time can turn into a disaster if you have no food or water,” says Tim Bemis, assistant manager at Dupaco Insurance Services.

Being prepared for the unexpected is crucial during a time of crisis.

“We can replace the home. We can replace the contents. But I cannot replace you,” Bemis says. “So family preparedness is always important.”

Here are four steps that will help get your home – and your family – ready for winter:

  • Create a plan: Disaster preparedness starts with a conversation. “Turn the TV off for a half hour one night, and talk as a family about the what-ifs,” Bemis says. “If we had a fire one day, where do we meet? Who do we call? Does everyone know where the fire extinguishers are?” Heavy snow and frigid temps can lead to disastrous consequences. and the American Red Cross are great resources to help you get prepared for winter weather.
  • Make a kit: What if your electricity, gas, water and phone lines were cut off for days? Would you have the basic supplies on hand to get your family through that emergency period? Each household’s needs vary, but here are some ideas to help you create your family’s survival kit.
  • Take a video: Use your smart phone to take a 360-degree video of every space in your home. If your home is ever destroyed, that footage will be your memory, helping you determine a replacement cost for your contents. Update those videos when you make major purchases or changes to your home. “It serves two purposes: Not only does it tell us what you had, but it tells you what you had,” Bemis says. “It protects both parties.”
  • Know your insurance policy: In a time of loss, there can be a lot of unknowns. Don’t let your insurance policy be one of them. Understand what your policy covers, and what it doesn’t, before you need to use it. “You need to read your policy. If there are things you don’t understand, I would encourage you to spend a half hour with your agent learning what your deductible and coverages are, and your responsibilities in a loss,” Bemis says.