September is National Preparedness Month (NPM) which places particular emphasis on the criticality of being ready for any emergency. To assist, the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency are providing resources and tools that include a wide range of emergency planning advice for communities; individuals with disabilities; seniors; military personnel; tribal governments; college students; parents and children; pet owners; and more.
“Disasters Don’t Plan Ahead. You Can.”
The theme for NPM says it all: “Disasters Don’t Plan Ahead. You Can.” Irma strengthening in the Atlantic to a Category 5 hurricane and the devastating flooding in Texas caused by Hurricane Harvey are urgent reminders that we should all take action to prepare for any emergency. Knowing what to do when disaster strikes — at home, work or while traveling —will ease some of the stress in responding to an unexpected emergency and could save lives.
The goal of NPM is to increase the overall number of individuals, families, and communities that engage in preparedness, according to FEMA. The NPM website (https://www.ready.gov/september) offers advice and checklists for helping individuals and communities organize and prepare for emergencies.
First: Make a Plan
Preparing your family for an emergency starts with a serious conversion about what to do in any emergency event, such as a fire or natural disaster. Remember, your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to know the types of disasters that could affect your area and the usual locations of family members throughout the course of the day, FEMA advises. Make a family communication plan — know how you’ll contact one another and reconnect if separated. Establish a family meeting place that’s familiar and easy to find.
Step 1: Put together a plan by discussing these four questions with your network of family and friends:
- How will I receive emergency alerts and warnings?
- What is my shelter plan?
- What is my evacuation route?
- What is my family/household communication plan?
Step 2: Consider the unique needs of members in your household.
Tailor your plans to any dietary and medical restrictions that affect the daily living needs of your family. Discuss your needs and responsibilities and how people in your network of friends and family can assist each other with communication; care of children and pets, elderly or disabled members; and specific needs for medical equipment. Create a personal network for areas where you will need assistance and keep in mind these factors when developing your plan:
- Consider the different ages and needs of members of your household. Assign responsibilities for assisting those with special needs, such as dietary or medical requirements, disabilities and functional needs. Include prescriptions, medical devices and equipment that will be needed.
- To quickly find family members in the event of an emergency, list the variety of locations frequented by family members such as school, college, fitness center, worksite, after school care, etc. Remember cellphone service and the usual lines of communication may not be operational in a disaster.
- Be mindful of languages spoken and any cultural and religious considerations that may complicate emergency evacuation or assistance.
Step 3: Fill out a Family Emergency Plan.
Download and fill out a family emergency plan or use it as a guide to create your own, like this one: Emergency Plan for Parents.
Step 4: Be Serious about practicing your plan with your family/household.
We should all take action to prepare, FEMA says. We can help first responders in our community by training how to respond during an emergency and knowing what to do when disaster strikes.
Watch out for the fraud and scams that spring up after a disaster, FEMA cautions. Keep your personal info secure. #NatlPrep.
- Beware of frauds and scams when seeking disaster assistance. Federal and state responders never ask for or will accept money and they always carry IDs. #NatlPrep
- Financial prep tip: flood-proof important documents by putting them in plastic bags to protect against water damage. #PlanAhead #NatlPrep
- Keep some cash on hand in case of emergencies. #PlanAhead #NatlPrep
Wallet Sized Emergency Communication Plan
Family Emergency Communication Guide
Emergency Plan for Parents or Emergency Plan for Kids
Emergency Plan for Commuters
Steps to make a plan
Tips on emergency alerts and warnings
Protect Critical Documents and Valuables
Document and Insure Your Property
Emergency Financial First Aid Kit
Make A Plan (Video)