National Preparedness Month is an excellent reminder to ‘Be Prepared’
Planning makes perfect
Planning for a potential disaster scenario is not negative thinking, it’s a positive practice to avoid a would-be catastrophe. Making and preparing an emergency plan for your family can start with a question-and-answer conversation about it at dinner.
For example, what if there is a fire at home, does your family have an escape plan? If not, immediately make one, and then devise and practice two ways out of every room in the house. There should also be a fire drill at least twice a year with everyone in the home.
Some other ways to stay ahead of any disaster include:
- Download a group texting app to keep in touch before, during and after an emergency
- Practice an evacuation in the car with your pets, so they’re more comfortable
- Sign up for local emergency alerts in your area
- Contact your water and power companies to get on a “priority reconnection service” list of power-dependent customers, especially if you rely on electrical medical equipment
- Find out if laws in your state permit pharmacists to dispense a 30-day refill of medications in an emergency
Learn something new, and save a life, too
Learning life-saving skills such as CPR and first aid are important because they provide immediate help before a first responder arrives, as is the recognition that additional preparedness can save a life as well.
Think about this: If you install natural gas detectors throughout your house or learn how to turn off the main gas line safely, you can prevent a potentially devastating explosion and fire. What’s deadly, colorless and odorless? Carbon monoxide, so protect your family by installing a carbon monoxide detector.
How do you prevent a fire? Keep anything that can catch fire away from your stovetop, and anything that can burn at least 3 feet from your furnace, water heater and other heat-generating equipment. Chimneys and vents should also be cleaned and inspected by a qualified professional at least once a year to prevent home fires.
September 15 is a National Day of Action. Volunteer to hold a preparedness event in your community, which could include a CPR class or Community Emergency Response Team training, or volunteer with a local disaster response or recovery agency.
Saving money also saves you potential problems
More than 40 percent of Americans don’t have $400 in savings, according to the Federal Reserve. It is essential to keep some cash on hand in case of emergencies that feature power outages that would render credit card machines inoperative. Setting aside a small amount from each paycheck to go into your savings account is an excellent way to start an emergency fund.
Financial preparedness goes beyond having cash on hand. Every effort should be made to complete an Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (EFFAK), which allows you and your family to collect and secure documents such as household identification, financial and legal documentation, medical information and household contacts if there was a disaster. Also, make digital copies of necessary documents and save them to cloud storage or a secure cell phone app.
It is crucial to “be prepared” in advance to help yourself and your community in case of a disaster.