The devastation wielded by Hurricane Harvey is massive. Our heart goes out to the hundreds of thousands of people who found themselves in unimaginable situations as more than four feet of water fell on Houston and other areas along the gulf coast. While the images are fresh in our minds, it’s important to identify lessons to be learned.
How could we prepare for events of similar magnitude?
Coincidentally, National Preparedness Month (NPM) is observed each September in the US. Sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), NPM encourages people to take steps to prepare for emergencies in their homes, businesses, schools, and communities.
This year’s overall theme is “Disasters Don’t Plan Ahead. You Can.” Each week of the month focuses on a specific area:
- Week 1: September 1 – 9 Make a Plan for Yourself, Family and Friends
- Week 2: September 10 – 16 Plan to Help Your Neighbor and Community
- Week 3: September 17 – 23 Practice and Build Out Your Plans
- Week 4: September 24 – 30 Get Involved! Be a Part of Something Larger
Now is a great time to create a plan if you don’t have one, or to review your plan if it has been while since you created it. A great place to begin is at https://www.ready.gov/september.
A few years ago, I created an Emergency Plan & Kit to help my clients prepare for an emergency. Creating a vital document file is one of the first steps you can take to become organized for an emergency. A vital file holds all important household, medical and banking records in one place — in a waterproof container. Keep it safe, but let someone you trust know where to find it should you be unable to get to it yourself.
Communicating with family and friends in a disaster can be a challenge. But If you have a plan for your family that everyone knows, you will be ahead of the game. Experts advise us to create a contact card for each adult family member to keep in their wallet or purse. Place contact cards for children in their backpacks. Designate a person out of state to contact if you are separated. It is often easier to make calls out of state than in-state during a disaster. Set up an ICE (In Case of Emergency) number on your cell phone. First responders will often use cell phones to contact family members in an emergency.
Prepare now. And rest assured that you are as ready as you can be when disaster strikes.