New Year’s resolutions are a great way to usher in a new set of routines, banishing bad habits in favor of better practices. Start that diet, join a health club and maybe read that self-improvement book that’s been on the shelf. The Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) offers the following list of five suggestions to better protect your home and business from natural disasters.

1) Plan for emergencies. Disasters usually hit without warning. Know your community’s emergency plans and determine your own emergency routes. Plan where your family or co-workers will reunite and designate a contact person to communicate with relatives or superiors.

2) Stock an emergency kit. Include a three-day supply of drinking water, nonperishable food, a portable NOAA weather radio, first-aid supplies, medication, tools and a flashlight.

3) Increase your home’s protection. Be aware of the natural perils your community faces and plan accordingly. In a wooded area, eliminate brush that could fuel wildfires. Install shutters or impact-resistant windows and doors in hurricane and tornado regions and remove potential wind-borne articles from your yard. If you live in earthquake zones, anchor tall furniture that could fall over and damage your home or injure family members. When reroofing, make sure to specify materials rated to withstand high winds.

4) Build Sensibly. If you are considering building a new home, where you build should determine how and where you build. Work with your contractor or builder to use materials and techniques that will protect you from potential hazards in your area.

5) Protect your business. A disaster-preparedness and recovery plan can increase the chance your business will survive. Copy all records and store them off-site to help make a fast recovery from an unexpected disaster.

IBHS is a national nonprofit initiative of the insurance industry based in Tampa. Its mission is to reduce deaths, injuries, property damage, economic losses and human suffering caused by natural disasters.

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