Help Prepare Your Family for Emergencies
During September, National Preparedness Month, follow this expert advice to develop emergency plans for your family
Ready.gov1, an official website of the United States Department of Homeland Security, has proclaimed September to be National Preparedness Month. This site, which has been operating for 15 years, is aimed at educating Americans not only to prepare for emergencies, including natural and man-made disasters, but also to respond to and mitigate them. National Preparedness Month is viewed each year as an opportunity to remind citizens that everyone should be prepared when disaster strikes. This year the theme is "Disaster Happens. Prepare Now."
During the first six months of 2018, there were six weather and climate disaster events in the United States that resulted in losses exceeding $1 billion each, according to the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI).2
"Take time to learn lifesaving skills such as CPR and first aid, check your insurance policies and coverage for the hazards you may face, such as flood, earthquakes, and tornados," Ready.gov advises.3 "Make sure to consider the costs associated with disasters and save for an emergency. Also, know how to take practical safety steps like shutting off water and gas. The devastating hurricanes and wildfires of 2017 reminded the nation of the importance of preparing for disasters."
In addition to the overarching theme and a national day of action on September 15, there are themes for each week of the month. September 1 - 8 is about making and practicing your preparedness plan. The week of September 9 - 15 is about learning life-saving skills. The week of September 16 - 22 is about checking your insurance coverage, and the final week (September 23 - 29) is about saving money for an emergency.
Ready.gov lists numerous specifics on what to consider for each of its weekly themes. For making and practicing your plan, these include discussing preparations over dinner, making a fire escape plan, and practicing two ways to get out of every room. You could also download a group texting app for the family, practice car evacuation (including the family pets), and contact utility companies to get on priority reconnection lists.
For life-saving skills, it suggests learning how to help mitigate flood damage or protect your home against the impact of earthquakes, learning how to turn off utilities like natural gas in your home, putting smoke alarms on every level in your home and/or replacing them if they're 10 years old, and learning CPR.
For the week that focuses on saving, It suggests setting aside a small amount from each paycheck to go into your savings account. In addition, a safe deposit box or online storage program can help you preserve important documents. For full lists of ideas for each week, visit the National Preparedness Month page.3
Staying informed about disasters as they occur is also of vital importance. RedCross.org4 notes the importance of finding out how local authorities will notify you and how you will get information. This could be through radio, TV or NOAA Weather Radio channels.
"Know the difference between different weather alerts, such as watches and warnings, and what actions to take in each," the website advises. "Know what actions to take to protect yourself during disasters that may occur in areas where you travel or have moved to recently. For example, if you travel to a place where earthquakes are common, and you are not familiar with them, make sure you know what to do to protect yourself should one occur."
It also recommends making sure that at least one member of your household is trained in first aid and CPR and knows how to use an automated external defibrillator.
Take some time during September to help prepare for emergencies. You can also spread awareness on social media using hashtags like #PrepareNow, #FloodSmart, and #NatlPrep.
The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank, a division of Zions Bancorporation, N.A. Member FDIC