03/18/2011 06:40 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

This Week's HuffPost Family Dinner Download: Are You Prepared For A Natural Disaster?

In her new cookbook, The Family Dinner, Laurie David talks about the importance of families making a ritual of sitting down to dinner together, and how family dinners offer a great opportunity for meaningful discussions about the day's news. "Dinner," she says, "is as much about digestible conversation as it is about delicious food."

We couldn't agree more. So HuffPost has joined with Laurie to launch a new feature we're calling HuffPost Family Dinner Downloads. Every Friday afternoon, just in time for dinner, our editors highlight one of the most compelling news stories of the week -- stories that will spark a lively discussion among the whole family.

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Just one week ago Japan was rocked by a deadly earthquake and tsunami, which also created a nuclear emergency that still remains unresolved. It is a tragedy of the highest order, killing thousands and displacing many more, with thousands still missing. (For information on how you can help, go here.)

Japan's catastrophe reminds us all that natural disasters could occur at any time. Depending on your geography you might be susceptible to earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, flooding, wildfires, tornadoes, or even volcanic eruptions, but being properly prepared for them is one of the single most important things families can do to help minimize their danger.

What are the potential types of natural disasters that could occur where you live? What is your family's plan in the event of a natural disaster? Is there an agreed-upon meeting place, or a family member from another state that everyone can check in with? What are some items that should be in your family's emergency preparedness supplies? What can you do at your school to raise money to help the victims of the Japan tragedy?

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To see last week's Family Dinner Download, click here.

Subscribe to receive HuffPost Family Dinner Downloads by email every Friday afternoon.

For more tips and recipes, check out The Family Dinner: Great Ways to Connect with Your Kids, One Meal at a Time by Laurie David and Kirstin Uhrenholdt (