From an unexpected power outage to a forecasted hurricane, an emergency can happen anywhere, to anyone, at any time. To help raise public awareness and encourage action before the next emergency, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has named September National Preparedness Month.
What is National Preparedness Month?
In the simplest of terms, National Preparedness Month is an important reminder to be prepared for the unexpected situations and crises that life may bring your way.
National Preparedness Month occurs every September in the United States. While September might not be an obvious choice for encouraging preparedness, the focus actually comes as a result of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Since 9/11, the United States government has worked to raise awareness of the importance of being prepared for any situation, whether it’s a natural disaster or a terrorist attack.
According to the Environment America Research and Policy Center, 80% of Americans live in counties that have been hit with a weather-related disaster since 2007. Despite that figure, FEMA found that nearly 60% of American adults have not practiced what to do in a disaster and only 39% have an emergency plan that has been discussed with their family. Similarly, the United States Census Bureau found that only 37% of Americans have determined an emergency meeting location and only 33% have a communication plan in place.
What can you do to be better prepared?
In the words of FEMA, “Disasters don’t plan ahead. You do.” Whether you’re at home, on the road, or in the office, there are actions you can take and plans you can make to ensure you are ready for the unexpected.
Do your children know what to do if the smoke alarm sounds in the middle of the night? What do you have prepared for an unexpected power outage? Where are the community shelters nearest to you? How will you gather news updates if TV and internet connections are lost? These are just a handful of questions you can answer now. Taking the time to prepare and educate your loved ones will ultimately lighten some of the stress amidst a crisis.
To get you started, here are a few helpful tips for preparing an emergency plan:
- Create a contact sheet with phone numbers and addresses of family members, medical facilities, schools, service providers (e.g. your insurance company), etc.
- Determine a safe meeting place for various emergencies (e.g. a house fire, a natural disaster, a major community crisis).
- Keep an emergency kit with necessities such as cash, a first aid kit, flashlights, matches, candles, batteries, toiletries, portable cell phone charger, water bottles, nonperishable food, blankets, etc.
Ensuring supplies are on hand and a detailed emergency plan is in place before disaster strikes is crucial. The more steps you take to prepare for the unexpected the better.
For more information and other helpful tips, read some of our other emergency related blogs: