September is National Preparedness Month, a good time to think about those affected by disasters such as fire, floods, tornadoes and hurricanes, and a good time to have your own emergency preparedness plan for the unexpected.
Less than half of U.S. families have a family emergency plan. It is crucial you have a plan of what to do in case you are separated from your family during an emergency, and what to do if you must evacuate on short notice.
Here are some tips from the US Dept. of Homeland Security and The American Red Cross
How to Start a Preparedness Plan
Put together a plan by discussing these 4 questions with your family, friends, or household to start your emergency plan.
- How will I receive emergency alerts and warnings?
- What is my shelter plan?
- What is my evacuation route?
- What is my family/household communication plan?
Identify and practice evacuation routes from your home to a safe place. Make sure to coordinate your plan with your child’s school, your work, and your community’s emergency plans.
Make an “In case of emergency” card for each family member, with emergency contact and medical information. These can be vitally important if your family is separated during a disaster.
Download and fill out this family emergency plan from the Dept. of Homeland Security, or use it as a guide to create your own.
Create Disaster “Grab and Go” Kits
Prepare an emergency “go” kit for each family member with enough food, water, flashlight, personal hygiene items, essential medications and medical supplies, copies of important documents, special comfort items for children (teddy bear or favorite toy) and other basic supplies to last three days.
Be informed about what disasters or emergencies may occur where you live, work, and play and understand how to respond as safely as possible.
Find out how local officials will contact you during a disaster and how you will get important information.
Staying informed of changing disaster and recovery conditions before, during, and after a disaster strikes will help keep you and your family safe.
Follow news broadcasts, community communications, and online forums.
If you are evacuated, do not return home until local authorities say that it is safe to do so. That also helps keep roads clear for emergency personnel.
Have a portable battery powered radio or television on hand to monitor local emergency information. Be ready to act if a disaster warning is issued.
Assist When and How You Can
People can help by staying informed, raising awareness of the situation by sharing updates, giving blood, volunteering for recovery efforts, and offering words of encouragement and support.
Get trained in First Aid and CPR/ AED skills so you can help in case emergency help is delayed. Check with your local fire department. In New York City, the FDNY offers free CPR classes.
Give to organizations that help, disaster relief organizations depend on the generosity of donors like you.
Donations enable these organizations to prepare for, respond to, and help people recover from unexpected events big and small.
Please consider donating to a disaster relief charity today.
How to Help Victims of Recent Disasters
See our list of top-rated charities and other non-profits responding to recent disasters in the US and overseas.
How to help victims of Hurricane Idalia
How to help victims of the Maui wildfire
How to help victims of the earthquake in Syria and Turkey
This article was published originally in 2018 and has been updated and revised for 2023.
ecoXplorer Evelyn Kanter is a journalist with 20+ years of experience as a newspaper and magazine writer, radio & TV news producer & reporter, and author of guidebooks and smartphone apps – all focusing on travel, automotive, the environment and your rights as a consumer.
ecoXplorer Evelyn Kanter currently serves as President of the International Motor Press Assn. (IMPA), a former Board Member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) and a current member of the North American Travel Journalists Assn. (NATJA).
Contact me at email@example.com.
Copyright (C) 2018 and 2023 by Evelyn Kanter