National Preparedness Month is every September when we focus on preparing ourselves, our families, and our communities for the disasters and emergencies that can happen where we live, work, and visit. This month we encourage everyone to take actions that will make us better prepared to reduce the impact of disasters. The 2019 theme is: “Prepared, Not Scared,” and focuses on teaching children the importance of preparedness.
Over the last two years, emergencies and natural disasters have tested us as a nation. We have responded to unprecedented hurricanes and wildfires as well as flooding, earthquakes, tornadoes, and other unexpected, perilous events. As emergency managers we know that our efforts will be most successful if the public is prepared.
Disasters affect everyone, so it takes everyone to help prepare. This includes making sure our children are prepared. Ask your child’s school and child care providers about how you’ll be reconnected with your children in the event of an evacuation. Talk to your kids about what to do in a disaster. This can be a tricky conversation to navigate but using the resources available on Ready.gov/kids can make it easier to talk through the topic.
Preparedness starts with having an emergency plan. An essential part of this is ensuring you are financially prepared. To start, keep emergency cash at home to have on hand if you need to leave your home quickly. Start an emergency or rainy-day fund to cover unexpected disaster costs that include food, water, hotel, gas, and insurance deductibles; this can help stem the impact of lost income. Sticking to a budget can be hard but saving even a small amount can make the difference during recovery. Also, take steps to protect your personal finances. By collecting, copying, and storing your financial information now, it could help you avoid problems and recover faster after a disaster. Use and share this checklist with friends and loved ones to make sure you have the information and documents you need.
Before a disaster occurs, be sure to check your homeowner’s or renter’s policies to ensure adequate coverage. This includes making sure you have flood insurance, which is typically not covered by homeowner’s insurance. Just an inch of water can cause more than $25,000 of damage to your home.
Another important step is developing a family emergency communications plan, designating an out-of-town person to serve as a contact for all family members to reconnect. Establish a family meeting place that’s familiar and easy to find. And sign up for First Aid and CPR training so that you know what to do if a family member, friend, neighbor or co-worker needs your help. Life-threatening emergencies can happen in the blink of an eye, and emergency responders may be minutes away, when seconds count. You may be able to save a life by taking simple actions immediately.
While we may not know when or where a disaster could strike, taking steps to be prepared can reduce the impacts to you and your family. Go to Ready.gov to learn more.