Disasters happen; learn to be ready

It’s no coincidence that National Preparedness Month, established in 2004, is observed in September. The events of Sept. 11, 2001 — the anniversary was Tuesday — compelled the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency to sponsor the annual effort.

That it does coincide with a category 4 hurricane causing mandatory evacuations on the East Coast does emphasize the need to plan ahead for disasters — whether caused by nature or by humans. Here’s the advice from FEMA:

Make a plan today. Your family may not be together if a disaster strikes, so it is important to know which types of disasters could affect your area. Know how you’ll contact one another and reconnect if separated. Establish a family meeting place that’s familiar and easy to find.

Step 1: 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 and household communication plan?

Step 2: Consider specific needs in your household.

As you prepare your plan tailor your plans and supplies to your specific daily living needs and responsibilities. Discuss your needs and responsibilities and how people in the network can assist each other with communication, care of children, business, pets, or specific needs like the operation of durable medical equipment. Create your own personal network for specific areas where you need assistance. Keep in mind some these factors when developing your 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.

Step 3: Fill out a Family Emergency Plan.

Download and fill out a family emergency plan at www.ready.gov or use them as a guide to create your own.

Step 4: Practice your plan with your family and household.

 Unlike the hurricane threatening the coast, not all disasters offer advance warning and time to prepare. That’s why this year’s theme is “Disasters happen. Prepare now. Learn how.”