National Preparedness Month is an observance held each September to raise awareness about the importance of preparing for disasters and emergencies that could happen at any time. This year’s theme – “A Lasting Legacy” – is a reminder to us all that the lives we build are worth protecting by creating and maintaining an emergency plan for ourselves and our families.
It seems that we hear of some new disaster befalling a community or region every week – from fires to flooding, extreme heat to tornadoes, chemical spills to attacks in public places. Yet taking the time to prepare for an emergency often falls to the bottom of our “to do” list. There are many benefits to planning ahead for disasters to increase safety, help limit property damage, and to guide us through the recovery process.
If you don’t have an emergency plan, now is the time to take action. If you have a plan but you haven’t reviewed it, practiced it and made updates, now is the time to take action.
The act of creating your family’s emergency plan will go a long way in helping you to navigate a disaster, but you should also test your plan by practicing emergency drills and testing your family’s communication plan. As part of this planning process, think about the types of weather events, disasters or emergencies that could affect where you live and work, and how you should respond to each. Know your evacuation routes. Assemble emergency supplies.
Take time to identify and protect the documents you will need following a disaster, in areas that include:
- Personal identification – such as birth certificates, passports and pet ownership papers
- Documents needed for insurance claims or disaster assistance programs, including housing information, vehicle registration, financial obligations and insurance policies
- Important medical information – such as a list of medications, insurance details, disability documentation, and healthcare provider contacts
There’s so much more to emergency planning to help you weather the storm and help set the stage for a full recovery. The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) website – //www.ready.gov/ – is your go-to source for effectively creating and maintaining your family preparedness plan. We encourage you to get started today!