Coastal living is growing in popularity, putting more and more people at risk from the dangerous storms which can devastate shore communities. The American Red Cross urges those considering taking up residence along the coast to know what steps they should take should a storm threaten their neighborhood.

About 39 percent of the U.S. population lives in coastal counties now and millions more will move to the region by the year 2020, according to the latest National Coastal Population Report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Census Bureau,

BE PREPARED In recent years, the Red Cross helped people recover when hurricanes like Sandy and Isaac destroyed entire towns along the coast, and when Tropical Storm Lee flooded towns hundreds of miles inland in Pennsylvania and New York.

People should get their household ready now and build an emergency kit, including three days of supplies for everyone in the household. Water (one gallon per person per day), nonperishable food, a flashlight, battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra batteries, a first aid kit, a 7-day supply of medications, a multi-purpose tool, sanitation and personal hygiene items and copies of important personal documents should go in every kit. The Red Cross also recommends having at least two weeks worth of supplies at home. A variety of emergency preparedness kits, first aid kits and other supplies are available

Other safety steps include the following:

Creating an emergency plan. Planning and practicing the plan minimizes confusion and fear during the event.Learning about local hurricane response plan. Plan routes to local shelters, register family members with special medical needs as required and make plans for pets to be cared for.Because standard homeowners insurance doesn't cover flooding, it's important to have protection from the floods associated with hurricanes, tropical storms, heavy rains and other conditions that impact the U.S. For more information on flood insurance, please visit the National Flood Insurance Program Web site FREE APPS Another thing people can do to help get ready is to download the free Red Cross apps for mobile devices. Apps are available to help during hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and wildfires, another which puts first aid information at someone's fingertips and another that helps locate Red Cross shelters. The free apps are available for direct download from the Apple or Google Play for Android app stores.

PREPARE YOUR BUSINESS The Ready Rating™ program is a free, web-based program developed to help businesses, organizations and schools become better prepared for disasters and emergencies. Organizations use the program's assessment tool to get a baseline measurement of their preparedness level and receive instant, customized feedback and resources to improve their score. TheFirst Aid Emergency Drills program is designed to test and strengthen a company's emergency planning and training. Drills are conducted to evaluate a business' ability to respond to a medical emergency.

Northwest Lending Group