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Pet Preparedness: 10 Items you’ll Need for your Pets Hurricane Emergency Kit

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Amid rushed evacuations, strong winds, and approaching floodwaters of a disaster, chaos often ensues, forcing families to make impossible decisions about the animals that are part of their families.  It’s never easy to leave a pet behind but often, there is no choice. 

These situations may not always be preventable but having a plan in place can give your pets their best chance.  Keep that plan, and the tools needed to implement it, within an emergency kit tailored specifically to your pet. 

Here’s the top 10 items recommended for your kit:

  1. Food. At least a three-day supply in an airtight, waterproof container.
     
  2. Water. At least three days of water specifically for your pets.
     
  3. Medicines and medical records.  Most boarding kennels, veterinarians and animal shelters will need your pet's medical records to make sure all vaccinations are current. 
     
  4. Important documents. Registration information, adoption papers and vaccination documents. Talk to your veterinarian about microchipping and enrolling your pet in a recovery database. 
     
  5. First aid kit. Cotton bandage rolls, bandage tape and scissors; antibiotic ointment; flea and tick prevention; latex gloves, isopropyl alcohol and saline solution. Including a pet first aid reference book is a good idea too.
     
  6. Collar or harness with ID tag, rabies tag and a leash.
     
  7. Crate or pet carrier. Have a sturdy, safe crate or carrier in case you need to evacuate. The carrier should be large enough for your pet to stand, turn around and lie down. 
     
  8. Sanitation. Pet litter and litter box if appropriate, newspapers, paper towels, plastic trash bags and household chlorine bleach.
     
  9. A picture of you and your pet together. If you become separated, a picture of you and your pet together will help you document ownership and allow others to assist you. Add species, breed, age, sex, color and distinguishing characteristics.
     
  10. Familiar items. Familiar items, such as treats, toys and bedding can help reduce stress for your pet. 


Visit Ready.gov’s Pets and Animals Preparedness page for more information.

14 Electrical Safety Tips: What to do Before, After and During a Storm

Before the storm:

  1. Charge all phone and communications devices.
  2. Move computers and other electronic devices to countertops or tables to avoid water damage from flooding.
  3. Turn off circuit breakers to avoid power surges.
  4. If you plan to use a portable generator during the storm, ensure that a qualified electrician has installed it and make sure to use a listed and approved transfer switch and GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) protection.

During the storm:

  1. Stay indoors during hurricanes and away from windows and glass.
  2. Never operate a portable generator inside your home or garage.
  3. Do not connect generators directly to the household wiring unless an appropriate transfer switch has been installed by a licensed, qualified electrician.
  4. Always use GFCIs in areas where water and electricity may come in contact. The National Electrical Code (NEC) currently requires the GFCIs be installed in all kitchens, bathrooms, garages, outdoors, and within six feet of any sink.

After the storm:

  1. Have a qualified electrician inspect any water-damaged electrical equipment and electronics. Electrical items, such as circuit breakers, fuses, GFCIs, receptacles, plugs and switches, can malfunction when water and silt get inside. Discard them if they have been submerged.
  2. If flooding has occurred, have a qualified electrician inspect your electrical system.
  3. Do not touch a circuit breaker or replace a fuse with wet hands or while standing on a wet surface.
  4. Report and stay away from downed power lines and always assume they are energized. Never touch a person or object that is in direct or indirect contact with a downed power line, such as a fence, tree limb or water. Instead, call 911 immediately.
  5. Avoid flooded areas as they may be electrified. Even nonconductive materials like wood or cloth that are slightly wet can conduct electricity.
  6. If you smell gas, notify emergency authorities immediately. Do not turn on lights, light matches or engage in any activity that could create a spark.

Credit: Property Casualty 360°

Exploring the Different Types of Boat Insurance

When searching for boat insurance, you might be overwhelmed when you find that there are many different types of policies available. In general, insurance companies offer a watercraft liability coverage policy along with additional coverages that you can purchase. If you have financed your dreamboat, the lender probably requires you to also obtain property coverage for damage to your boat.

Watercraft liability insurance coverage is required by law in most states. This insurance provides coverage in the event that damage occurs to a person or to property of others as a result of actions taken on your boat. This is true whether or not it occurs during transportation or actually on the water. The law requires you to have this type of liability coverage and each state will have its own requirement as to how much you will need. It is wise to consult with an insurance agent to find out what is necessary to meet the requirements of the law.

In addition to liability insurance, you should cover the boat, motor and trailer used to transport your boat. Make sure that you protect your boat with optional coverage that includes theft, vandalism, losses caused by storms, fire, sinking, capsizing, stranding and collision.

It is possible that medical payment coverage may be required in your state. This type of coverage pays for the medical expenses, up to a specified amount, for you and any passenger on your boat that result from an accident covered by the policy. As a suggestion, regardless whether or not this insurance is required, you would be wise to consider it. Medical expenses as a result of an accident can become extremely high.

Another additional type of insurance coverage to the standard boat liability policy is the wreck removal and pollution coverage. This should also be strongly considered. If your boat sinks or is involved in an accident for any reason, you are required to remove it at once in accordance with the law. If oil or gasoline leaks into the water as a result of an accident, you will be fined. The wreck removal and pollution coverage provides coverage for this type of incident, and without this coverage you will be required to pay for the pollution and/or removal plus fines out of your own pocket.

Just like in automobile coverage, you should definitely cover yourself against uninsured boats as well. If another boater who does not have any type of boat insurance or does not have enough coverage, collides with your boat on the water, this coverage will pay for the replacement of, or any needed repairs to your boat.

Call Thorp & Trainer to find out what type of insurance is required, and we will provide a no obligation quote for this and any other additional insurance you might require for your boat.

HAPPY BOATING THIS SUMMER.

Drop, Cover and Hold On with “Molly and the Earthquake”

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The children sat in rapt attention, their faces upturned, hanging on the words being read aloud from the book, “Molly and the Earthquake.”

Tilting the book so all could see the pastel-colored illustrations, the woman continues to read.

“Children, it feels like we’re having an earthquake. Get under the table. Remember: Drop, cover, and hold on,” said Miss Chris calmly, but firmly. The preschoolers slid back their chairs and got under the table, just like they’d practiced in their earthquake drills, but Molly started to cry and headed for the door.”

“Molly and the Earthquake” is one of four books by Hannah C. Watkins that tell the story of a child’s experience with a natural disaster.

In two sessions one recent Saturday afternoon, FEMA employees read from the 20-page book to groups of children ranging in age from preschoolers to high school teens. Parents of the younger children sat beside them on tiny benches.

They heard the story of how Molly and her classmates at Happy Hearts Preschool crouched under tables as their classroom began to shake, how they watched as pretzels tumbled from their cups, the hamster cage crashed to the floor and books slid off the shelves.

The book weaves a tale of bravery as Molly experiences an earthquake for the first time.

The reading was held at a Barnes and Noble store in Anchorage which sponsors a monthly Book Fair hosted by neighboring schools. This was FEMA’s opportunity to teach the children that bravery doesn’t mean a lack of fear. Instead, bravery is a decision to be courageous in the face of fear. 

For Molly, being brave meant deciding she and her classmates would follow the directions of their teacher, Miss Chris.

A magnitude 7.1 earthquake jolted parts of Alaska last Nov. 30, and the aftershocks have not stopped. In the five months since then, the Municipality of Anchorage, Matanuska-Susitna Borough and Kenai Peninsula Borough have experienced over 7,800 aftershocks.

The parents and kids who listened to Molly’s story had a chance to ask questions of the FEMA employees and take home handouts, from coloring books to construction tips, that matched their age group.

At the end of the reading, a FEMA employee asked the kids if they remembered what they should do during an earthquake. The response came from a shy 7-year-old boy.

“Get under the table,” he said. 

A wise reminder to us all.

Did you know?
Alaska has more earthquakes per year than the other 49 states combined.
The moon has earthquakes, too!
Earthquake magnitude tells how much energy is released.
This energy is measured by a seismograph.
 
Do you know what to do if the earth starts shaking?
Visit Ready.gov/earthquakes for more information.

For more information on Alaska’s disaster recovery, visit FEMA.gov/disaster/4413, Twitter.com/FEMARegion10 and Facebook.com/FEMA.


# # #

 

FEMA's mission is helping people before, during, and after disasters.
 
Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has faced discrimination, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-3362 (FEMA), voice/VP/711. Multilingual operators are available. TTY users may call 800-462-7585.

The U.S. Small Business Administration is the federal government’s primary source of money for the long-term rebuilding of disaster-damaged private property. SBA helps businesses of all sizes, private nonprofit organizations, homeowners and renters fund repairs or rebuilding efforts and cover the cost of replacing lost or disaster-damaged personal property. For more information, applicants may contact SBA’s Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955. TTY users may also call 800-877-8339. Applicants may also email DisasterCustomerService@sba.gov or visit SBA at www.SBA.gov/disaster.

April Showers Sometimes Bring Floodwaters

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Over the past several years, our state, local, tribal, and territorial partners have experienced, first hand, destruction caused by floods in communities across the country. In fact, for the 2017 and 2018 hurricane seasons combined, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) paid its policyholders more than $11 billion to assist in their recovery efforts. And yet, that amount doesn’t touch the thousands of others with flood losses who weren’t insured.

The state of Virginia was no exception. Tropical Storm Michael and Hurricane Florence impacted the Old Dominion with back-to-back flood events in September and October of 2018. Neither flood event reached the level of a presidential disaster declaration, leaving many Virginians without individual federal assistance to rebuild and repair their homes and businesses.

Those Virginians who had flood insurance policies received a total of $7,927,742 in claims as of January 31, 2019. This vital assistance helped them rebuild their lives and businesses.

Unfortunately, only three percent of Virginians have flood insurance. Virginia has committed to address this financial vulnerability. This year, the state of Virginia proclaimed the second week of March Flood Awareness Week, which focused on closing the insurance gap and encouraging residents to purchase flood insurance.

Virginia isn’t alone in appreciating the need to close the flood insurance coverage gap. Oklahoma has experienced numerous historical flood events. For example, the May 1943 flood damaged several communities along the Arkansas River. Over the past 50 years, the NFIP has paid nearly $200 million to impacted Oklahomans.  To recognize the value of flood insurance, Oklahomans celebrate Flood Insurance Awareness for the entire month of March.

Often, after severe weather events, I visit flooded communities, meet claims adjusters, and talk with disaster survivors whose lives have been turned upside down. The power of Mother Nature never ceases to amaze me, although I am beginning to see the tide change from a nation of disaster response and recovery to a disaster resilient and insured nation.

Movements start at the grassroots level. Like Virginia and Oklahoma, states can lead the way by informing their citizens the value and benefits of flood insurance and by encouraging them to take action.

In the years to come, I’m hopeful that this movement will transform communities and lead to more insured disaster survivors, quicker recovery, and less disaster suffering. The measure of success will be meeting with individuals who are on the road to recovery more quickly because they’ve protected their homes and belongings through flood insurance after a severe weather event.

For more information about the value of flood insurance, visit www.Floodsmart.gov or call 1-800-427-4661. 

Is Peer-to-Peer Home Rental for me?

A peer-to-peer home rental (sometimes called AirBnB, HomeAway, Flipkey and VRBO) is an online marketplace for vacation and business rentals that links owners (“hosts”) who have unused lodgings or bedrooms to rent with users (“guests”) seeking to rent the space, typically on a short-term (i.e., less than 30 days) basis.

Visiting friends and relatives are often referred to as “guests.” However, unless otherwise stated, “guests” refers to the individuals or families that pay to rent residential space from a “host.”

Insurers and municipalities typically consider home hosting a business. Yet, the host’s insurer is too often unaware of these business-related activities. Thus, asking more questions on their homeowners’ applications regarding this expanding loss exposure.

Advantages for hosting:

• Renting unused space results in extra income. The average AirBnB host earns $924 per month, and 26 percent of hosts make more than $1,000 per month.

• There is often no charge just to list the property. A fee is applied only if a successful booking is made.

• Some rental marketplaces will send a professional photographer to the home at no cost to assist in marketing the space.

• Most marketplaces also provide strong customer support, verification regarding the identity of potential guests, and numerous payment options.

• The online system is typically quite flexible. For example, hosts can set seasonal pricing and weekday/weekend pricing as they see fit.

• Many people simply enjoy being a host and love to meet travelers from all corners of the globe.

• A host can rent his or her entire house, condominium unit, or apartment, or just one room within the dwelling.

Disadvantages for hosting:

• Hosts may naively believe that they are simply part of the sharing economy and not involved in a business activity; however, this peer-to-peer sharing certainly involves a commercial transaction. Insurers and more municipalities view home hosting as a business, resulting in regulatory restrictions and property and liability coverage gaps.

• Short-term rentals might violate local zoning, homeowners’ or condominium association bylaws, lease agreements, or housing laws.

• Some cities require that the host obtain a permit or obtain a business license before the property can be listed.

• Some state and local laws may apply rental income or hotel taxes to any booking.

• Federal income taxes also apply to booking revenue. Damage to the rental property or an injury to a guest is an important loss exposure to consider. For example, a host may be found legally liable for an injury on the premises. Without the proper insurance, financial burdens for the host may arise.

• Some hosts have difficulty navigating the home-hosting website.

Advantages for guests:

• Cost savings—it can be less expensive to stay in an apartment or home rented via an online marketplace.

• Many homes will give the guest access to a kitchen.

• An excellent host can be a great resource for learning about a local culture and its customs.

• Extensive photos, online reviews, and host/home ratings can help ensure that the guest gets his or her desired space with minimal fuss.

Disadvantages for guests:

• The short-term rental may not comply with local laws and restrictions, some of which might be safety related.

• Online ads may be misleading, incorrect, or even fraudulent.

• The rental property might not be as secure as a hotel room.

• Reviews may not always reflect both sides of the rental property.

• It can be time consuming to find the right rental property.

• The level of service or expected amenities people are accustomed to receiving at a hotel are often lacking in home sharing.

• There may be hidden fees that are hard to spot online.

• It is often difficult or even impossible to cancel a home-sharing agreement than it is to cancel a hotel reservation.

• Guests might wonder whether their own insurance or the host’s insurance adequately protects any property or liability exposures they face with a short-term rental.

There are many advantages and disadvantages for both hosts and guests. To learn more, call Thorp & Trainer where, “Your Security Is Our Concern”.

Hidden risks lurk in rental cars for travelers

The age of connectivity comes with its own set of risks

A driver’s home phone number, call and message logs, and personal contacts are just some of the types of information that can be stored on a rental car.

No matter the season, travelers rely on rental cars to reach their destinations. Many of today’s cars are designed to make hands-free calls, stream music, and even access the internet — but one has to connect to an infotainment system first.

But in order to do this, the infotainment system may store personal information kept on a driver’s phone, says AAA.

“The stored information in mobile devices is vulnerable to theft. If you sync your mobile phone to a rental car, you open yourself up to having your personal information stolen,” Lori Weaver Hawkins, Blue Grass AAA, said in a statement. “It is possible for an unauthorized person to gain access to things like home address and the code for your garage door opener.”

Know your risks

There are currently no industry or government standards for vehicle infotainment systems, but the first step to safeguarding your personal data is to know the type of information an infotainment system may store.

Potentially stored information:

·       Home address, work address, and other saved or frequently used GPS locations.

·       Home phone number.

·       Call and message logs.

·       Personal contacts.

·       Garage opener programming.

Reducing your risks

To avoid a data breach of any kind, there are a number of steps drivers can take.

1.     Purchase a phone charger for your phone that plugs into the cigarette lighter adapter port rather than the USB port. The lighter adapter port does not access your information.

2.     Use your phone’s GPS without syncing up with the rental car.

3.     Check your phone’s permissions to learn what information your car can access. When syncing your phone, if your infotainment systems allows you to choose which types of information you share, restrict it to only what’s necessary. For instance, if you’re only syncing your phone to play music, the car only needs access to your music library, not your personal contacts or other data.

4.     Before handing your keys over to a valet, check to see if your car’s infotainment system has a valet mode you can set that will protect your sensitive data.

5.     Before trading in your car or returning a rental car, go to the settings menu on the car’s infotainment system to find a list of synced devices. When you find your devices, follow the prompts to delete them. If you can’t figure out how to do this, check the owner’s manual or an online tutorial.

For additional ways to protect yourself home and while traveling, call Thorp & Trainer at 596.0146.

The Importance of Personal Preparedness

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Man in water with Helicpoter behind

I recently took a vacation to Japan. On our last day, my group chartered a boat to snorkel, hike and enjoy a beautiful chain of islands off the coast of Okinawa. On our way back, our boat was overcome by rough seas and capsized – everyone on board had to abandon ship.

Words cannot express what it feels like to literally fight for your life.

I’m sharing this story for a few reasons. By no means did I do everything right, nor was I a hero. Everyone I was with had their own strengths and by working together we ultimately made it out alive. But as I look back, I realize this event was the perfect example of why it’s important to be prepared. I want to share some important preparedness actions we took. 

Make a Go-Bag: Preparing a modified and quick go-bag for myself each time we went on an excursion was the best decision I’ve ever made. It was a “just-in-case” bag. I’m thankful I was already wearing my lifejacket, so I didn’t have to spend time searching for one and was able to use the few seconds I had to grab my go-bag. In my go-bag I had two large canteens of water, protein bars, a small first aid kit and my water proof cell phone. I grabbed my bag because it was the only thing I had onboard and it was quickly accessible - a key part of having a go-bag. The water proof cell phone in my go-bag was used to call the Japanese Coast Guard. My go-bag wasn’t originally intended to keep me alive in the middle of the ocean, but that day it did. Having a go-bag saved my life.

Wear a Lifejacket: The U.S. Coast Guard says, “The best lifejacket is the one you will wear.” It doesn’t matter if you’re an Olympic swimmer - lifejackets save lives. It saved ours. The boat capsized in a matter of seconds. That’s not enough time to find out where the captain has stored them. If you want to survive, not wearing a lifejacket isn’t an option. You can exhaust yourself swimming and eventually your body will fail you. A lifejacket to give you buoyancy, so you can focus on saving yourself.  It is also important to make sure your lifejacket is functioning appropriately before you set sail. I didn’t do that and mine would not zip shut. It made paddling very difficult. In the future, I will ensure my lifejacket zips before setting sail. In addition to the lifejackets, we also used a large floating seat cushion from the boat for extra buoyancy.

Have a Plan: I always identify emergency exits and mentally develop my own personal emergency plan. Whether it’s a concert, a sporting event or a trip to the mall, I am constantly thinking through my next move if something happens. Visualizing actions to take in an emergency is critical in helping mentally train your mind and body to be calm during an incident. I can honestly say that my many years in various emergency management capacities helped me navigate the hectic situation and stay in the right head space - it helped save me.

Emergencies don’t just happen where you live or work, they can happen anywhere. Did you know that emergency services contact numbers are not universal? Japan’s standard emergency number is 119 for land emergency services (ambulance, fire department) and 118 for sea emergencies. More than familiarizing yourself with emergency contact information, make sure you do research on the place you’re visiting beyond the attractions you want to see. Can you use your insurance abroad? Where are the hospitals? Do you need vaccinations? Do you have the appropriate documentation to travel with medical items? Certain items aren’t permitted and could be confiscated at customs in foreign counties.
I walked away and returned safely home with a story to tell: I lived through a shipwreck. This incident will not stop me from loving the ocean or getting on a boat, but it did remind me that nature is a powerful force I cannot control. I’ll continue to be prepared as I can be.

We Meet You Where You Are: Disaster Preparedness

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When it comes to disasters, mother nature does not discriminate. People from all income levels and backgrounds have experienced the challenges of rebuilding their lives after a natural disaster or an emergency.
FEMA’s 2018 National Preparedness Report found, that while federal agencies have made efforts to streamline disaster recovery assistance:

  • Businesses continue to face challenges navigating post-disaster economic recovery programs;
  • Communities often struggle to effectively communicate and coordinate with the private sector; and,
  • Financial disruptions from disasters can disproportionately affect less-resourced communities, prolonging their return to economic viability.

Value of an AFC® (Accredited Financial Counselor®)
We are thrilled to partner with FEMA to support the development of training that will help not only our financial professionals, but also ALL financial professionals better serve their clients, while also reaching individuals and families who otherwise may not have access to this critical information.
AFC® professionals are as diverse as the communities in which they serve.

  • They work in military/government, private practice, nonprofit organizations, banks/credit unions, research, and higher education.
  • They work in every state and even worldwide at military installations across the world.
  • They serve individuals both young and old, people with disabilities, those who are socioeconomically disadvantaged, and minorities across gender, race, and ethnicity.

Together with a membership community that includes financial counselors, coaches, planners, therapists, and educators, our professionals span the full continuum of financial care.

AFC® professionals have the knowledge, skills, and experience to help individuals and families build a strong financial foundation – a foundation that is critical to helping more people be prepared to effectively respond to financial emergencies and get back on their feet faster following a disaster. 

Affecting Change. Creating Impact.
In 2017, FEMA took important steps to enhance disaster preparedness. They worked with federal partners from the Financial Literacy Education Commission (FLEC) and other community partners to compile resources that help you strengthen your home, your job, and your communities’ ability to be financially prepared. In March of 2018, they announced the updated Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (EFFAK), a joint publication from Operation Hope and the FEMA Citizen Corps; you can use it to identify important documents, medical records, and household contracts in preparation for a disaster.

AFC® professionals work with individuals and families every day – helping them create a strong foundation to weather life’s storms. Through our partnership with FEMA, we are excited to expand our reach to aid in FEMA’s efforts to improve disaster preparedness. If you are a financial professional, we invite you to join us in these efforts! Visit afcpe.org and sign up for our mailing list to be notified as training opportunities become available. Financial professionals should go to ready.gov/financial-preparedness for more information. Together we can create tremendous impact in communities nationwide, because “preparedness is the calm before, during, and after the storm.

Rebecca Wiggins, Executive Director of the Association for Financial Counseling & Planning Education® (AFCPE®)

Financial Preparedness Pays

Forty-four percent of Americans do not have $400 on hand to cover an emergency expense. These Americans will be ill-prepared to care for themselves and their families in the wake of a disaster.

I was pleased to join Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Acting Director Mick Mulvaney recently at a public meeting of the Financial Literacy and Education Commission (FLEC). I shared FEMA’s vision for financial preparedness, specifically discussing our efforts to close the insurance gap (the difference between what is currently insured and what is insurable) and individual preparedness activities we are supporting. 

You might be surprised to learn that the U.S. currently has the largest insurance gap among all countries globally. Of the total estimated natural catastrophe losses in the U.S. of $55 billion annually, the annual expected uninsured losses total more than $30 billion according to the global reinsurer Swiss Re. This means that more than half of these losses won’t be covered by insurance.

For flood insurance specifically, the insurance gap is even worse. In North Carolina where Hurricane Florence caused catastrophic flooding throughout the state, only three percent of households have flood insurance. FEMA and other federal agencies may provide assistance to those without insurance, but these programs were never intended to replace insurance coverage. FEMA’s average disaster payment is only a few thousand dollars. This is far short of what most homeowners would need to rebuild, yet few understand the limited scope of FEMA’s assistance programs.

We at FEMA have made closing the insurance gap a top priority in our strategic plan. We’re working to simplify flood insurance policies and educate the public on the role all types of insurance play in disaster preparedness. Spend two minutes to watch our video and see why you might need to rethink insurance.  I also encourage you to check out my friend, Sean Kevelighan’s PrepTalk on Understanding the Value of Insurance – just released today.

To support financial preparedness actions, we have partnered with a nonprofit organization, Operation HOPE, to develop the Emergency Financial First Aid Kit. It’s a toolkit that helps individuals and families organize critical financial, medical, and household information and includes a checklist of important documents and forms to compile your relevant information.

As part of Financial Capability Month in April, FEMA, in partnership with FLEC, led a social media campaign to reach the public with practical and actionable tips and resources to improve their financial future. This reached over 28 million Americans.

As a result, orders for our financial toolkit have doubled, showing people want and need this information. It’s now the most requested item in the FEMA library—more requested than our preparedness materials on hurricanes, earthquakes, and tornadoes.