Get Ready: It’s National Preparedness Month

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Disaster Response and Recovery
By: 
Greg Tucker

There's a saying that goes, “be ready, so you don't have to get ready.” Every family and workplace needs to have a plan of action to keep everyone safe when the unexpected happens. Sounds like the perfect excuse to discuss National Preparedness Month.

James Alverez fills up extra tanks with gas in preparation for Hurricane Ike in Corpus Christi, TX on September 10, 2008. (Photo by Jocelyn Augustino/FEMA)

Trouble can arrive in the form of natural and manmade disasters or emergencies in the blink of an eye. In just the last few years we've seen unexpected events like earthquakes on the East Coast to massive power outages from flash storms to flooding from the aftermath of hurricanes that continue to unleash their wrath long after they come ashore.

National Preparedness Month is sponsored by FEMA's Ready Campaign (online at Ready.gov and in Spanish at Listo.gov) in partnership with Citizen Corps. The campaign is held each September to encourage Americans to make preparations for disasters or emergencies in their homes, businesses, and communities.

We will discuss preparations for specific situations during the rest of this month -- and we have a great toolkit that can get you started -- but here are some basic ideas to keep in mind for when disaster strikes or an emergency occurs.

Have a Plan – The time to make a family emergency plan is long before an emergency occurs. Make sure that the family has a designated gathering point where they meet in case of emergency and that everyone has access to a list of cell phone, work, or school numbers to contact other members away from home.

You're Gonna Need Some Backup -- It's too late to think about backup plans when a power failure occurs, so make sure to keep a stock of flashlights with fresh batteries. Battery-powered chargers can come in handy for cell phones to keep the lines of communication open in an emergency. And if you have access to a backup generator, be sure it is serviced regularly so it will be ready to use when you need it.

Communication is Key – Have a battery-powered radio – again, with fresh batteries -- to get news alerts in the event power goes out. Smartphone users can also download radio apps to keep abreast of local news. FEMA has a great list of resources with hints on how you can use your tech to stay informed in an emergency.

Water, the Thirst Quencher – You will need a gallon of water per person per day when access to clean water is limited. Try to have a three-day supply stored and available.

Stock Up Before Something Happens – Avoid battling crowds at the local grocery store during a last-minute quest for milk and toilet paper. Ready.gov has a list of items you will need to make your own disaster supplies kit that will keep you set for a few days. Make one now and you won't have to get into a fight over the last roll of Charmin.

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