10 Ways To Be Prepared For Emergency Preparedness Month

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September is Emergency Preparedness Month and we want to highlight some important ways to stay organized in the event of an emergency. It’s all about planning ahead. Every article and website dedicated to emergency preparedness highlights planning ahead and practicing with your family.

National Preparedness Month is sponsored by FEMA. They are asking everyone to participate in America’s National PrepareAthon! Day on September 30th. It aims to educate and empower Americans to prepare for and respond to all types of emergencies, including natural disasters and potential attacks.

“National Preparedness Month is a time to prepare yourself and those in your care for emergencies and disasters, both large scale and smaller local events. We know that emergencies can happen unexpectedly in communities just like yours, to people like you. We’ve seen tornado outbreaks, river floods and flash floods, historic earthquakes, tsunamis, and even water main breaks and power outages that impact communities for days at a time.” (NOAA weather-ready nation)

If an emergency occurred tomorrow, would you be ready?
Here are 10 ways to get prepared: 

1. Create emergency contact sheets

Knowledge is key.
Create an emergency contact sheet for everyone in your family to have. Keep a copy in an accessible area in your house where your kids can get to it. Make a copy for your neighbors and family members who live nearby. You can keep a copy of the emergency contacts in an emergency preparedness binder, along with emergency plans and other important documents.

Who should be on this list?

  • Cell phone numbers for everyone in the household.

  • Home and cell phone numbers of family members nearby.

  • Home and cell phone numbers of neighbors.

  • Home and cell phone numbers of any babysitters and pet sitters.

  • Community contact numbers such as local police station, fire department, shelters and animal control.

America’s PrepareAthon has created Family Emergency Contact Plan wallet cards to help you get all of your emergency contacts in one place. FEMA also created their version that you can see here and a kid-friendly version too.

2. Create a family emergency plan

Having a plan for you and your family in case of an emergency is priceless. Take a look at this worksheet for how to create your family’s plan.

Here are a few key items to include in yours:

  • Map of your house with emergency exits, first aid kits, flashlights & fire extinguisher locations

  • Meeting locations for your family if you cannot get home

  • That wonderful emergency contact sheet you put together in step #1

  • The order of who to contact in case of an emergency

  • School procedures for emergencies

  • Work procedures

3. Have an emergency supply kit ready

Would you be prepared for at least 3 days without electricity, water and food?
Packing an emergency bag or supply kit is a great way to be prepared. Think about what you would need (not want) if there was a storm that knocked the power out, a flood that trapped you in your house, or an event that sent you to a local shelter.

Here are some items that you should keep in your emergency kit:

  • First Aid – Band-Aids, Aspirin, Neosporin, hand sanitizer, tissues

  • Flashlights

  • Candles

  • Matches

  • Batteries

  • Water

  • Non-perishable food

  • Cell phone chargers

  • Prescription medications

  • Your emergency contact documents

If you have small children, you might want to put a few books or small toys in your kit in case you need to entertain them. If you have pets, make sure you add some food, water, treats and toys for them as well.

4. Educate

It’s so important to know your plan before an emergency happens. If you have children, you’ll want to educate them on the emergency procedures regularly to help them remember.

Here are some questions you’ll want to make sure you and your family know how to answer:

  • Where are the closest exits in your house to their bedrooms?

  • Where are the fire extinguishers located in the house?

  • Who should they call in case of an emergency?

  • What allergies or special medical requirements do members of your family have?

  • Where are the first aid kits located?

  • What should you take with you in case of an emergency?

  • Where are the flashlights and candles located in the house?

  • If they are at school, how would they get in touch with you in case of an emergency?

  • If you can’t get to your family, who is next in line to take care of them temporarily?

  • If you can’t get home, where should your family plan to meet?

5. Talk with your family regularly

Making sure you and your family aren’t scared when thinking about what to do in an emergency is not always easy. A great way to lessen the fear is to regularly have open conversations with your family members to create a level of comfort about the different scenarios.

6. Practice

Practice. Practice. Practice.

It’s not a waste of time to practice safety procedures and emergency plans with your family. Knowing where the nearest exit is located is great, but practicing going down a fire escape or ladder is priceless. In the event of an emergency you’ll be able to stay a little calmer knowing your family has done a run-through before. Some families even simulate emergency situations regularly in their house to make sure everyone is ready. Doing a dry run can help in so many ways. I know where my fire extinguishers are located, but the more important question is, do I know how to use it? The answer is yes, because I’ve practiced (in a safe environment).

7. Sign up for emergency alerts

Most of us today have smart phones. These are a great resource for emergency preparedness. You have so much information literally at your fingertips. You can check the weather on the go, you can read the news, you can update your contact list quickly, and you can get alerts directly to your phone. Wireless Emergency Alerts is a public safety system that allows customers who own certain wireless phone models and other enabled mobile devices to receive geographically-targeted, text-like messages alerting them of imminent threats to safety in their area. Apple phones allow you to choose which alerts you’d like to receive.

8. Stay informed about the weather

On most days you can look outside your window and guess what the weather will be like for the day. It will then help you decide what outfit to wear, which shoes to put on, and if you need an umbrella, hat or sunscreen. That might cut it some days, but there are severe weather advisories that can drastically affect your day, not just your outfit. Watching the weather channel in the morning before your day starts is one way to get the updated information. Another way is to check the information on your smartphone. Perhaps even setting up weather alerts like tip #7 suggested. Be alert whichever way is best for you.

9. Be prepared for your pets

If you have a pet, you’ll want to make sure you’re prepared to help them in case of an emergency. Having items in your emergency kit for your pet is a great place to start. Some people even make their own emergency bag for their pets. Also, making sure your pets are always up to date on their vaccinations can save you a headache in an emergency situation.

Did you know that many shelters won’t take pets in during an emergency? It’s unfortunate, but often their policies are in place to protect people first. Do some research ahead of time – find out if there are any shelters in your area that accept pets. If not, find out if there’s a kennel or veterinary hospital that will take in pets during an emergency.

10. Work together

Working with your community can significantly help you and others during an emergency. Sharing responsibility for snow removal during a blizzard, helping others bail out their basements during a flood, or sharing resources with neighbors who can’t stay in their own homes are all ways to be helpful during an emergency. You never know when you might be on the receiving end and need a helping hand.

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