National Preparedness Month
Recent disasters, both natural (floods, fires and earthquakes) and man-made (mass shootings, terrorist attacks) remind us that life can change at a moment’s notice.
September is National Preparedness Month. This month and throughout the year, here are few actions you can take to get prepared.
Make a Family Emergency Plan
- Identify an out-of-town contact. It may be easier to make a long-distance phone call than to call across town, so an out-of-town contact may be in a better position to communicate among separated family members.
- Be sure every member of your family knows the phone number and has a cell phone, coins, or a prepaid phone card to call the emergency contact. If you have a cell phone, program that person(s) as "ICE" (In Case of Emergency) in your phone. If you are in an accident, emergency personnel will often check your ICE listings in order to get a hold of someone you know. Make sure to tell your family and friends that you’ve listed them as emergency contacts.
- Teach family members how to use text messaging. Text messages can often get around network disruptions when a phone call might not be able to get through. A quick and easy text: IMOK (I am okay).
- Use FEMA resources, such as the Family Emergency Communication Plan. Download the FEMA app and obtain weather alerts and much more.
- Start gathering supplies! A plan to gather them without breaking the bank.
Planning to Stay or Go
Depending on your circumstances and the nature of the emergency, the first important decision is whether you stay where you are or evacuate. You should understand and plan for both possibilities. Use common sense and available information, including what you are learning here, to determine if there is an immediate danger. In any emergency, local authorities may or may not immediately be able to provide information on what is happening and what you should do. However, you should watch TV, listen to the radio or check the Internet often for information or official instruction as it becomes available.
Find out what kinds of disasters, both natural and man-made, are most likely to occur in your area and how you will be notified. Methods of getting your attention vary from community to community. One common method is to broadcast via emergency radio and TV broadcasts. Make sure you have a portable radio with extra batteries in your emergency kit. There are also solar radios and hand-crank radios available. The Red Cross is an excellent resource for supplies.
You may also want to inquire about emergency plans at places where your family spends time: work, daycare and school. Talk to your neighbors about how you can work together in the event of an emergency. Look into CERT (Community Emergency Response Teams) training through your local fire department.
You will be better prepared to safely reunite your family and loved ones during an emergency if you think ahead and communicate with others in advance.
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