The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announces that more than 1,150 national, regional, state, and local organizations have joined the department to take part in National Preparedness Month, a nationwide effort held each September to encourage Americans to prepare for emergencies in their homes, businesses, and schools.
“This fall, the Department of Homeland Security and the National Preparedness Month Coalition are urging Americans to take a few basic steps to ensure that their families are prepared before emergencies happen,” says Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.
Through events and activities across the country, every American will be reminded of the personal responsibility they have to keep their family safe if the unexpected occurs.”
10 Steps to Becoming Disaster Prepared
- Identify Your Risks
Get the number of your local Office of Emergency Services (OES) or contact your local chapter of the American Red Cross and get informed. Check with your insurance company to see if your home is in a high risk area for flood, fire, or earthquakes. Make sure your insurance coverage is up-to-date on an annual basis.
- Create a Family Disaster PlanYour family needs a plan that tells everyone:
- Where to meet if you have to evacuate
- Who you’ve identified as the out-of-state friend to be your “family contact”
- How to get important information in your community
- How to take care of your family pets
- Practice Your Disaster Plan
Start by having family members meet at a designated spot outside your home. Know how to respond in the event of any disaster. If your family needs to evacuate, know the proper evacuation procedures and routes as determined by your local OES office.
- Build Disaster Supply Kits for Your Home and Car:
- 3-day supply of non-perishable and canned food and water. Replace water every 6 months, and don’t forget to restock food items.
- First Aid Kit
- Battery-powered flashlight and portable radio with extra batteries. Replace batteries on a regular basis.
- Change of clothing and footwear
- One blanket or sleeping bag for each family member
- Extra set of car keys, credit card, and cash
- Extra medications
- Sanitation Supplies (soap, cleaning supplies, shampoo, toilet tissue, etc)
- Extra set of prescription glasses
- Keep important family documents in a waterproof container
- Prepare Your Children
Talk to your kids about risks. Practice your family plan every 6 months and empower your children to help write the plan, build the disaster supply, and lead the drills. The more informed and involved children are in disaster planning, the more prepared they will be.
- Don’t Forget Those with Special Needs
Infants, seniors, handicapped, etc. Make sure needed supplies such as medications and oxygen tanks are prepared with at least a 3 day supply. Be sure the assisted living facility where a family member resides has a disaster plan and you know what it is.
- Learn CPR and First Aid
Contact your local chapter of the American Red Cross and get trained on basic first aid and CPR.
- Eliminate Hazards in Your Home and the Workplace
For earthquake threat areas, strap down large electronics, secure cabinet doors, anchor tall furniture, and secure overhead objects such as ceiling fans and pictures. For high fire danger areas, contact your local fire department or California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection to find out how to make your home fire safe.
- Understand Post 9/11 Risks
- If you hear an explosion, take cover under a sturdy object, then exit as quickly as possible.
- If there is fire, stay low, cover your nose and mouth with a wet cloth and seek a safe escape route, away from heat or flames.
- If trapped in debris, cover your mouth to avoid breathing dust. Whistle to alert others to your presence – don’t shout to conserve energy.
- If you think you’ve been exposed to chemical or biological substances, contact a physician or medical clinic as soon as possible.
- Get Involved, Volunteer, Bear Responsibility
Donate blood, join a local Community Emergency Response Team by contacting the California Service Corps, educate your neighbor, volunteer with the Red Cross, Fire Safe Council, or other volunteer organizations in your area. Whatever you do to take part, get involved and bear responsibility for our state