CHICAGO — September is National Preparedness Month, a time to raise awareness about the importance of preparing for disasters and emergencies. This year’s theme is “a lasting legacy.”
“Prioritizing personal readiness and the things you value should be part of any plan to take care of your loved ones now and in the years ahead,” said Tom Sivak, regional administrator of Federal Emergency Management Agency Region 5.
“Protecting your legacy doesn’t need to be difficult or expensive. Start with simple steps and include each member of your household, so everyone has a part in safeguarding the future.”
President Joe Biden thanked first responders for being the first to show up when emergencies strike.
“During this National Preparedness Month, let us strengthen our support for first responders — our first line of defense when catastrophes threaten our homes, businesses, schools and families,” Biden said.
“Let us each recommit to doing our part to prepare for emergencies. I encourage all Americans to download the FEMA app and receive real-time alerts, to turn on wireless emergency alerts on mobile phones and to pack emergency go-bags.”
Low-cost to no-cost disaster preparedness tips:
1. Learn your risks and make a plan. Ready.gov offers free resources to learn more about the disasters you may face.
2. Access local resources. Contact your local fire department to find out if they may have programs that provide fire or carbon monoxide detectors. Check online for free or discounted CPR courses offered near you.
3. Sign up for free emergency alerts in your area to receive life-saving information from your state and local municipality.
4. Verify your home is fully insured for the disaster risks in your area. Talk to your insurance agent to ensure there are no gaps in your coverage, but also remember you should shop around to get the best rate. Ask about discounts that may be available and consider increasing the deductibles to reduce your premiums.
5. Make sure everyone in the house knows how to turn off the electricity, gas and water in case of emergency.
6. Store important documents and information in a safe place. Items like passports, birth certificates, maps and electronics should be put in a flood-safe place like a high shelf or upper floor in resealable, water-tight plastic bags to help waterproof them.
7. Store important documents like insurance policies digitally. Make sure you put important phone numbers somewhere besides just your cell phone.
8. Build your emergency supply kit over time. Start with items you may already have in your home, like a flashlight, extra batteries, copies of important documents, water and non-perishable food.
9. When you go to the grocery store, pick up an extra item each time that you use regularly, especially if it’s on sale. Community food banks are a potential resource for food-insecure families to stock their emergency supply kits.
10. Also consider battery-free supplies, like wind-up flashlights and weather radios. It’s a good idea to have an external phone charger at the ready in case of a power outage.