September is National Preparedness Month. In order to prepare for the next potential disaster, it’s important to have a family plan in place.
As we’ve recently witnessed in Houston and around the world, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, fires, and other disasters can occur anywhere and to anyone. Nobody is safe from potentially life-threatening natural and man-made emergencies.
Instead of running around in a panic, it’s highly recommended that you develop a plan and practice it at least once a year. That way, when an earthquake, fire, major storm, or other emergency occurs, you will know exactly what to do.
The goal of National Preparedness Month (NPM) is to get as many people to engage in preparedness actions at home, work, business, school, and places of worship.
National Preparedness Month 2017 Weekly Themes
Week 1 (September 1-9) – Make a Plan for Yourself, Family and Friends
Week 2 (September 10-16) – Plan to Help Your Neighbor and Community
Week 3 (September 17-23) – Practice and Build Out Your Plans
Week 4 (September 24-30) – Get Involved! Be a Part of Something Larger
To help participate in this national initiative, we are going to focus on this week’s theme of Making an Emergency Plan for Your Household.
Make a Plan for Yourself, Family and Friends
Sign Up for Updates and Get Informed
- Download the FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) app for disaster resources, updates, weather alerts, and safety tips.
- Sign up for monthly preparedness text messages by texting PREPARE to 43362 (4FEMA) – message/data rates apply.
- Know which disasters can affect your area.
- Keep a NOAA Weather Radio tuned to your local emergency station.
Download and Fill Out FEMA’s Family Communication Plan
Click on the link above to download a PDF version of FEMA’s Family Communication plan. This document can be easily printed and displayed on your refrigerator or another conspicuous place in the home.
You should also keep an extra copy of this information in your purse, briefcase, car, office, and/or wallet. Go over this information at least once a year with the entire household and keep the information up-to-date.
It includes areas to fill in emergency information, such as:
- Out-of-Town Contact
- Work Information
- Neighborhood Meeting Place
- Regional Meeting Place
- School Information
- Family Information
- Medical Contacts
- Insurance Information
To view this document in other languages, click here.
Create hard copies of this document and make sure everyone carries it in their backpack, purse, wallet, etc. Click here for a smaller emergency contact list from FEMA that you can fit in your wallet.
Build an Emergency Supply Kit
In case of an emergency, you don’t want to have to run to the store for emergency supply items. In many, cases it may be too late, the stores may be closed, or the supplies can be out of stock.
It’s important to have a disaster kit ready at all times to supply your food, water, and medical needs for at least 72 hours. When you practice your emergency escape plan with your household, make sure everyone knows where this kit is located. It should be easily accessible for everyone.
- Download FEMA’s Emergency Supply List
Revisit and rethink your needs at least once a year (when you go over the emergency escape plan with your family) and update the kit as necessary. Make sure to keep canned food in a cool dry place and replace any expired items as needed.
- Visit Ready.gov’s Build a Kit page for more information and resources.
Watch this FEMA video for more information:
Prep Your Car
Your emergency escape plan will most likely include your getaway vehicle, aka your car. Make sure you have the necessary items in your car at all times.
Items to Include in Your Car Emergency Kit:
- Owner’s Manual
- Insurance, Registration, Roadside Assistance, and Emergency Contact Information
- Tire Jack, Spare Tire, Lug Wrench, and Tire Pressure Gauge
- Jumper Cables (better yet, a compact jump-starter kit, which includes USB connections to charge your important devices, such as cell phones)
- Duct Tape
- First Aid Kit
- Flashlight (tactical flashlights are best)
- Reflective Triangles and/or Flares
- Ice Scraper/Brush
- Car Hammer/Seatbelt Cutter
- Blankets/Warm Gear
- Cell Phone Charger (you may also want to include an emergency charged cell phone)
- Cat Litter or Sand (for better tire traction)
It’ also a good idea to keep your gas tank full or at least above the halfway mark. Visit Ready.gov’s Car Safety page for more important information.
Create an Emergency Evacuation Plan
It’s crucial to create an emergency escape plan and practice it at least once a year with the entire household.
Watch this FEMA video for more information:
Review and Practice Emergency Communication and Evacuation Plan
Emergencies can happen at any time. Before an emergency happens, have a family discussion and practice your escape plan, including who your point of contact is and where you should all meet away from the home.
Download the above pdf document for a full communication and evacuation plan for your family and property. There will be sections to define the best evacuation routes in the event of an emergency along with step-by-step instructions for how to prepare for, respond to, and recover from various emergency situations.
If you are a business, go over FEMA’s 10-page Emergency Response Plan to determine what your emergency response team is responsible for in the event of an emergency. This includes things such as how to evacuate employees and visitors, provide first aid, and any regulations that must be covered by your plan (OSHA, fire codes, etc.).
Every year, when you are going over your communications and evacuation plan, make sure everyone knows the exact meeting place (indoor, in-neighborhood, and outside-neighborhood) and the different ways to get there safely.
By applying what you have learned in this guide and the various documents that we have linked to, you will know exactly what to do when an emergency situation occurs.
Again, make sure everyone in the household knows your emergency contact information and where to gather in the case of an emergency. Review this information every year. And what better time than during September, National Preparedness Month?
Additional Emergency Preparedness Resources:
- Emergency Communications Planning graphics
- National Preparedness Month graphics
- Community Service graphics
- Individual Preparedness graphics
- Free Ready.gov Publications
- Collection of Ready.gov Individual Preparedness
- Share public service announcements and instructional videos
- Print, share, or order FREE emergency preparedness publications
- Visit Ready.gov for all disaster preparedness content, including winter weather, hurricanes, floods and wildfires.
More Ways to Protect Your Family & Property
- Prevent Disaster Losses
- Mitigation Best Practices and Case Studies
- Buy flood insurance
- Find out if you are in a flood zone
- Available insurance coverage to individuals and businesses
Home fires are a common emergency situation that is luckily easily preventable. To minimize your chance of a home fire, it’s important to have your heating and ventilation equipment inspected by a professional every year, ideally before the heating season begins (early fall). Don’t forget to test your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors every 30 days for proper operation.