National Preparedness Month.
September is National Preparedness Month. Although never really wants to sit down and consider worst-case scenarios that we can face, by taking the time to make sure that you and your family are preparing for an emergency, you are giving yourself peace of mind and staying one step ahead. And preparing for an emergency may sound like a daunting task, but it can be reduced to 3 easy steps: Get a kit. Make a plan. Be informed.
Get a Kit.
While most of us automatically reach for bottled water and flashlights in an emergency, there are some other items to consider as necessities in your emergency kit, such as:
- A stocked first-aid kit
- A radio (either battery-powered or hand-cranked)
- A multi-tool
- Cell phones and chargers
- An emergency blanket
- Sanitation and hygiene items
- Family and emergency contact information
- Copies of personal and important documents (deed/lease, birth certificate, passport, insurance policies, etc.)
- Medications (7-day supply) and any necessary medical items
- Extra cash
- Map(s) of the area
You’ll want to make sure that you have these items in an easy-to-carry container that you can use either at home or take with you in case of an evacuation. This is just a list of necessities that you should have on hand in your kit, but it is by no means a definitive list. You will want to make sure that you pack additional items based on the types of natural disasters common to your area (i.e., rain gear, surgical or N95 masks, plastic sheeting, etc.), as well as your family members (extra supplies for infants and the elderly).
Make a Plan.
One of the most important things that you can do to remain safe for an emergency and/or natural disaster is to meet with your family members and discuss how you will respond to emergencies that are most likely to happen where you live. This includes:
- Assigning specific responsibilities to each family member
- Choosing a place outside of your home to meet, in the event of a sudden emergency such as a fire
- Choosing a place outside your neighborhood to meet, in the event that you cannot return home and/or must evacuate immediately
- Choosing an out-of-state emergency contact person, and making sure that each family member has that contact information in writing and/or saved to their cell phones.
- Planning what to do if you are forced to evacuate: determine whether or not you will stay with friends/relatives in a safe location, go to a hotel/motel, or to an evacuation shelter. You will also want to make sure that you are familiar with not just your evacuation route but also with an alternate evacuation route.
- Don’t forget your pets; you will want to make sure that you have a list of pet-friendly hotels/motels and shelters if you have to evacuate with your pet.
Don’t wait until it’s too late. Learn about the types of disasters that are more likely to occur in your area, whether it’s something that affects only you and your family, such as a house fire or medical emergency, or something that affects your entire community, such as a hurricane or flood.
- Identify how local authorities will notify you of a disaster and relay subsequent information — radio, tv, etc.
- Know the difference between different weather alerts, such as watches or warnings, and the appropriate actions to be taken for each.
- It’s a good idea to make sure that at least one person in your family is familiar with first-aid, especially CPR, and can operate an automated external defibrillator (AED), since disasters can affect emergency response times from ambulances, police officers and firefighters.
Make good use of the resources available to help you prepare yourself and your family members for disasters/emergencies, such as those offered by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), CEMA (Chatham Emergency Management Agency), and the American Red Cross. Preparing both yourself and your family for emergencies and disasters takes only a little bit of your time, and should you ever find yourself in need, that time will have been well worth it.