As I have written about in years past, every September the Department of Homeland Security proclaims National Preparedness Month. The theme for 2020 is “Disasters Don’t Wait. Make Your Plan Today.” 2020 will certainly go into history as a year unlike any other. In addition to the ever-present pandemic, we have already seen numerous extreme weather events from hurricanes to tornadoes to the horrible wildfires ravaging the west right now. This year’s theme couldn’t be more timely. Disasters don’t wait, that’s for sure.
In addition to the overall theme for the month, there is a theme for each week of the month. The first week’s theme was “Make a Plan” followed by week two’s theme “Build a Kit.” Week three, which starts today has the theme “Prepare for Disasters” and the theme for the last week of September is “Teach Youth About Preparedness.”
You can learn all about National Preparedness Month at the website Ready.gov/September. There are numerous free resources available at this site, including downloadable and printable publications and checklists to help you be prepared should disaster strike. The site focuses on personal and family preparedness as well as business preparedness so be sure to check out the appropriate resources and don’t forget about having plans for your home, not just your place of work.
Each week’s theme is broken down into actionable steps. For the first week, “Make a Plan” steps include putting together your emergency plan together with members of your family or household. With respect to your household, guidance around specific needs are highlighted. There is a link to a PDF emergency plan for parents to use for their family and recommendations for practicing your plan to make sure it will work if and when it is needed.
The “Build a Kit” theme for week two provided many resources and recommendations for putting together and maintaining emergency kits. There are guides for having an emergency kit for your home, work, car, etc. Each situation has unique needs and having been stranded in my car one winter on a relatively deserted roadway, I wish I had an emergency kit available to me. It would have made the long wait a lot less stressful, so I really encourage you to consider putting these kits together. “Prepare for Disasters” is the theme for this week. FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has a great smartphone app to keep you informed in the event of disaster in your area. I recommend everyone download and install this app on your smartphone. Based on your location services settings, it will keep you informed of any emergencies wherever you are located. The app is also full of useful resources to help you in the event of an emergency. One other suggestion is to always have a hand crank and solar charger available to keep your mobile devices powered up so you will have access to these resources and emergency communications.
The final theme of the month, “Teach Youth About Preparedness” is as important as being prepared in the first place. You want to set a good example, from an early and appropriate age to be responsible for your personal, family and workplace safety. National Preparedness Month provides a great annual reminder to assess your needs and make your plans, so you will be prepared should you need to be.
The pandemic has certainly shown us that things can happen quickly and unexpectedly and have significant impact on everyday life. National Preparedness Month is an important awareness campaign to help us all be better prepared. Not just for ourselves, but for our community as well. Stay safe.