IT'S NATIONAL PREPAREDNESS MONTH: BE PROACTIVE, NOT REACTIVE

By Allie Goolrick
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In the past few years, we've all sat rapt in front of our televisions, watching devastating tsunamis, earthquakes, wildfires, tornados, flash floods and typhoons unfold across the globe. Some of these historic and unpredictable disasters may have even happened close to your home and impacted your community.

But what if disaster struck near you tomorrow? Would you and your family be prepared?

Now is the time to make sure you are. September is FEMA's National Preparedness Month, which aims to give you the tools to prepare for natural disasters. Don't think it can't happen to you: even smaller local disasters, like power outages and river flooding, can impact communities without warning for days at a time.

When preparing for disasters, it's important to be proactive, not reactive. Follow these tips to stay one step ahead before, during and after a disaster:
  • Stay informed. Keep up with potential severe weather through weather.gov and your local weather forecasters. Get a NOAA weather radio for the most up-to-date news as disaster strikes.
  • Get the app. Install Wireless Emergency Alerts to have messages sent to your phone during an emergency.
  • Know your risk. Know which disasters are most likely to impact your community and how to prepare for those events. Visit FEMA.org to learn specifics on how to prepare for each one.
  • Prepare a disaster supply kit. Include at least three days of non-perishable food and bottled water and other essentials like a first aid kit. Remember, emergency responders may not be able to get to you quickly, so have what you need to take care of yourself for at least a few days.
  • Create a family emergency plan. Your family may not be together when a disaster hits, so make sure everyone knows how you will contact one another in an emergency and where you will go.
  • Practice response drills and first aid skills. Learn skills appropriate to where you live. Visit the Red Cross to find out about where to sign up for first aid classes. If you live in an earthquake zone, practice Drop, Cover and Hold On with your family. If you live in a flood zone, practice Turn Around, Don't Drown when driving.
  • Locate critical documents. Ensure you can easily find legal, financial, and medical documents, which will help you to work with your insurance provider after a disaster strikes.
  • Reduce damage to your home. Learn the best ways to protect your home from damage before disaster ever strikes. FEMA provides advice for specific disaster.
  • Know what your insurance covers. Check with your insurance provider to make sure you have proper home and auto coverage for disasters that are likely to strike your community.
  • Know where to go. Identify local evacuation routes in advance and figure out how to get to safety or to local shelters. If you need a place to stay during a disaster, text SHELTER + your zip code to 4FEMA (43362) to find the nearest shelter.
  • Join the National Preparedness community online: Connect with regional groups, participate in discussions and learn about local preparedness events.
Disasters and emergencies are unpredictable, but you are not powerless. By following just a few simple guidelines and being prepared, you are that much more likely to keep your family safe, reduce the risk of damage to your home and vehicle and, if the worst does happen, be equipped to handle the aftermath.


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