National Preparedness Month (prepare)

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Preparing for a Disaster

Submitted by Lorene Bartos, UNL Extension Educator

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Are you prepared? Would you have been prepared if a disaster such as Hurricane Isaac had hit our area? September is National Preparedness Month. This is the time for you and your family to discuss how to be ready and what needs to be done in case of disaster. This month gives us the opportunity to set aside the time to get READY.

Four steps to take to be prepared are:

  • Be informed. Know the hazards and risks in your area. Learn what you need to do to get ready for them.
  • Make a family emergency plan, so you know how you would communicate with and find your loved ones if a disaster hit. For example, think about how you would reach your kids at school. Your spouse at work. If you had to evacuate, where would you go. Thinking this through in advance will make a big difference.
  • Build an emergency supply kit both at home and in the car – that includes water, food and first aid supplies to help you survive if you lose power or get stranded in your car. This is especially important for dealing with icy roads and snowstorms this winter.
  • Get Involved – Be an advocate and educator for safety and emergency preparedness within your community. Contact your local Citizen Corps.

Each family should have a plan for communicating during a disaster. FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Association) give these tips for good family communication in time of disaster:

  1. Identify a contact such as a friend or relative who lives out-of-state for household members to notify they are safe. It may be easier to make a long-distance phone call than to call across town, so an out-of-town contact may be in a better position to communicate among separated family members.
  2. Be sure every member of your family knows the phone number and has a cell phone, coins or a prepaid phone card to call the emergency contact. If you have a cell phone, program a person(s) as "ICE" (In Case of Emergency) in your phone. If you are in an accident, emergency personnel will often check your ICE listings in order to get a hold of someone you know. Make sure to tell your family and friends you've listed them as emergency contacts.
  3. Teach family members how to use text messaging (also known as SMS or Short Message Service). Text messages can often get around network disruptions when a phone call might not be able to get through.
  4. Subscribe to alert services. Many communities now have systems that will send instant text alerts or e-mails to let you know about bad weather, road closings, local emergencies, etc. Sign up by visiting your local Office of Emergency Management web site

Good family communication is important at all times but it especially important during disasters as all family members may not be at the same location when disaster hits. Start now to develop an emergency plan for your family. For additional information on being prepared go to

Ask Lorene

(This resource was added September 2012 and appeared in the Lincoln Journal Star Newspaper Sunday edition. For information on reproducing this article or using any photographs or graphics, read the Terms of Use statement)

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University of Nebraska-Lincoln in Lancaster County
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