As the White House recently reminded us, September is National Preparedness Month. A month dedicated to assessing and preparing for local disasters and unplanned emergencies. In a 2016, Columbia University’s National Center for Disaster Preparedness found that 65% of Americans do not have an adequate emergency plan. 41% aren’t confident with local emergency plans for disasters that occur with no warning.  Knowing what to do before, during, and after an emergency, makes all the difference when lives are on the line. Comfort Institute urges families to plan for the unexpected and devise their own emergency plans.

Two things every family needs in any disaster are: An emergency plan and an emergency kit. In addition to having an emergency kit ready, discuss with family and friends how you’ll contact each other, where you’ll meet, and what you’ll do in specific situations like a tornados or hurricanes.

Your emergency kit should include items such as:

  • Gallon of water per person per day for three days.
  • Three-days of nonperishable food supply per person.
  • Flashlight with extra batteries,
  • First-aid kit.
  • Whistle or flare gun to signal for help.
  • Dust masks or respiratory protection.
  • Power inverter for your cell phone
  • The Better Business Bureau

Doublecheck to ensure all family members know where to meet and who to contact in case you’re separated. A relative or friend in another area is an ideal emergency contact. Consider utilizing smartphone apps that provide emergency information.

Families should also decide whether to including prescription medications, infant formula and diapers, pet food, and cash in their emergency kits. Remember to check emergency supplies every few months to replace expired items and batteries.

Other things to keep in mind:

  • Catalogue your valuables. Take pictures of your valuables and place them in a safe. This can help the insurance company assess the dollar amount for your losses.
  • Protect important documents. Make digital copies of important family documents such as birth certificates, passports, insurance policies and photos in a waterproof external hard drive, or in a waterproof portable container near your escape route.
  • Know where to turn. FEMA, or the local division of emergency management and the CDC have many resources available to help families prepare for what to do before, during, and after disasters happen.

Hurricane Harvey has been a catastrophic event for the entire State of Texas. This storm has left many Americans homeless, stranded or in need of assistance. Find out how to help: