September is National Preparedness Month (NPM). Make sure your household is prepared for natural disasters by planning ahead and going over your evacuation plan.
Sign Up for Emergency Alerts
In the event of an emergency in your area, you want to be alerted as quick as possible. Sign up for Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs) on your mobile device for real-time information from FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS).
What to know about Wireless Emergency Alerts:
- WEAs can be sent by state and local public safety officials, the National Weather Service, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and the President of the United States
- WEAs can be issued for three alert categories – imminent threat, AMBER, and presidential
- WEAs look like text messages, but are designed to get your attention and alert you with a unique sound and vibration, both repeated twice
- WEAs are no more than 90 characters, and will include the type and time of the alert, any action you should take, as well as the agency issuing the alert
- WEAs are not affected by network congestion and will not disrupt texts, calls, or data sessions that are in progress
- Mobile users are not charged for receiving WEAs and there is no need to subscribe
- To ensure your device is WEA-capable, check with your service provider
- Download the FEMA app for disaster resources, weather alerts, and safety tips
- Sign up for preparedness text messages: text PREPARE to 43362 (4FEMA) to receive preparedness tips. (msg/data rates apply)
It’s also a good idea to invest in a Solar/Wind Up NOAA Radio. These emergency weather radios are great for when you don’t have your phone or it loses battery. During a power outage, you’ll be glad you have one.
- NWR broadcasts official warnings, watches, forecasts and other hazard information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- It also broadcasts alerts of non-weather emergencies such as national security, natural, environmental, and public safety through the Emergency Alert System.
Share this information with your entire household so you aren’t the only one receiving these important warnings and alerts.
Create and Practice an Evacuation Plan
You don’t want to be left scrambling when disaster strikes. That’s why you should make a plan now! Get your family together and go over the essentials, such as:
- Signing up for emergency alerts and warnings (outlined above)
- Coming up with evacuation routes for each room (there should be at least 2 exits for each room)
- Know where to find shelter.
- Create your family communication plan and fill out emergency cards for each member.
Since each household is different, make sure you tailor your plan to individual needs and responsibilities.
Here are some things to keep in mind when creating your evacuation plan:
- Different ages of members within your household
- Responsibilities for assisting others
- Locations frequented
- Dietary needs
- Medical needs including prescriptions and equipment
- Disabilities or access and functional needs including devices and equipment
- Languages spoken
- Cultural and religious considerations
- Pets or service animals
- Households with school-aged children
Here are some additional resources for creating your emergency evacuation plan:
- Emergency Plan for Parents or (PDF)
- Emergency Plan for Kids or (PDF)
- Emergency Plan for Commuters (PDF)
- Steps to make a plan (PDF)
- Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (PDF)
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Disaster Checklist (PDF)
Fill Out Emergency Contact Cards for Everyone
Gain peace of mind by having everyone in your household fill out an emergency contact card. Not only does it hold important information about emergency contact information and meeting places, it could also save you in case you are incapacitated.
Print out paper cards from The American Red Cross and fill out the following information:
- Name, Date of Birth, Phone Number, and Important Medical Information
- Police, Fire Department, Ambulance, and Poison Control Center Numbers
- Health Care Provider Contacts
- Work and School Information for Family Members
- Out-of-Town Contact Information
- All Planned Meeting Places
Supplement the Red Cross card with an ICE (In Case of Emergency) card from AAA.
Keep the cards in your wallet, emergency kit, car, purse, wallet, or backpack. It’s a good idea to have one in your car and one on your person. You can also put this information in your phone (iPhone Health app), but you should definitely have a paper backup just in case.
Decide On Multiple Meet-Up Locations
If you need to evacuate your home, there should be an agreed upon meeting place—inside the home, outside the home, in the neighborhood, and outside the region.
In the Home
In the event of a storm, tornado, or earthquake, everybody should know where to meet within the home. Choose the safest spot in the home, such as the basement, storm shelter, or a lower, windowless room, such as a bathroom, closet, or interior hallway.
Outside of the Home
In the event of a fire, gas or chemical leak, you may need to evacuate the home. Choose a spot on the block, such as a big tree, neighbor’s house, mailbox, or signpost. Do not reenter the home until an official has deemed it safe to do so.
In the Neighborhood
Sometimes, you will need to meet somewhere in the neighborhood. This might happen if you aren’t at home. In this case, choose a neighborhood meeting spot, such as a library, church, community center, or relative’s house.
Outside the Region
Sometimes, whole regions need to be evacuated. That’s why it’s also a good idea to decide on a safe meeting spot outside of the region. This could be a hotel, relative’s house, landmark, or other easy-to-remember place.
Put Together an Emergency To-Go Bag for Each Member of Household
You may or not have an emergency kit already, but do you have a separate one for each member of the household? Since each person has their own needs, it’s a good idea to separate the emergency kits for each member, especially the elderly and those with unique needs. Don’t forget about your pets.
Here are some of the basics you should have in your to-go emergency kit:
- Non-Perishable Food
- Hand-Crank NOAA Radio
- Extra Batteries
- First Aid Kit
- Dust Mask
- Moist Towelettes
- Garbage Bags
- Plastic Ties
- Can Opener
- Cell Phone Charger
- Prescription medications
Keep your emergency kit in an easy-to-access spot that everyone can access. Don’t forget to keep an emergency kit in your car as well.
Don’t forget to include something special for each family member, such as toy, game, book, candy, or even beauty and skincare items. Extra underwear, socks, and wet wipes are always a good idea.
Keep Important Documents in Grab-and-Go Waterproof/Fireproof Safe
Important documents and records should be stored in a portable, waterproof and fireproof safe. Make sure you can grab them quickly.
Here is some of vital information you want to include:
- Copies of Insurance Policies
- Bank Account Records
- Birth Certificates
- Medical Information
- Important Financial and Legal Documents
Check out FEMA’s list for all the critical documents and valuables you may want to add to your portable, fireproof safe.
Don’t forget to make sure you have smoke and CO detectors installed on every level of the home and to check them every month!
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