September: National Preparedness Month

September is National Preparedness Month. It is a time to prepare yourself and those in your care for an unexpected emergency.

If you've seen the news recently, you know that emergencies can happen unexpectedly in communities just like yours, to people like you. We've seen hurricanes, tornado outbreaks, river floods and flash floods, historic earthquakes, and even water main breaks and power outages in U.S. cities affecting millions of people for days at a time.

In September, please prepare and plan in the event you must go for three days without electricity, water service, access to a supermarket, or local services for several days. Just follow these four steps:

1. Be Informed: Free information is available to assist you from federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial resources. You can find preparedness information by:

  • Accessing Ready.gov to learn what to do before, during, and after an emergency
  • Contacting your local emergency management agency to get essential information on specific hazards to your area, local plans for shelter and evacuation, ways to get information before and during an emergency, and how to sign up for emergency alerts if they are available
  • Contacting your local firehouse and asking for a tour and information about preparedness

2. Make a Plan: Discuss, agree on, and document an emergency plan with those in your care. For sample plans, see Ready.gov. Work together with neighbors, colleagues, and others to build community resilience.

3. Build a Kit: Keep enough emergency supplies on hand for you and those in your care:  water, non-perishable food, first aid, prescriptions, flashlight, and a battery-powered radio. For a checklist of supplies, visit Ready.gov.

4. Get Involved: There are many ways to get involved, especially before a disaster occurs. The whole community can participate in programs and activities to make their families, homes, and communities safer from risks and threats. Community leaders agree the formula for ensuring a safer homeland consists of volunteers, a trained and informed public, and increased support of emergency response agencies during disasters. Major disasters can overwhelm first-responder agencies, empowering individuals to lend support.

Police, fire, and rescue may not always be able to reach you quickly, such as if trees and power lines are down or if they're overwhelmed by demand from an emergency. The most important step you can take in helping your local responders is being able to take care of yourself and those in your care; the more people who are prepared, the quicker the community will recover. As FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate reminds us, "Individuals and families are the most important members of the nation's emergency management team. Being prepared can save precious time if there is a need to respond to an emergency."

For more information about National Preparedness Month and for help getting prepared, visit Ready.gov or call 1-800-BE-READY, 1-888-SE-LISTO, and TTY 1-800-462-7585 for free information.