September is National Preparedness Month
(Houston, Texas) – Harris County Commissioners Court has declared September as National Preparedness Month (NPM). Harris County Citizen Corps and the Harris County Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Management (HCOHSEM) support this effort led by the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) and sponsored by the Ready Campaign. This year’s theme is “Disasters Happen. Prepare Now. Learn How.”
“With the devastating effects of Hurricane Harvey still on our minds, preparedness is an important topic,” said Harris County Judge Ed Emmett. “Planning ahead will ensure that you and your family will know what to do and will have the supplies you need to be safe wherever you are.”
Throughout the month of September, Harris County Citizen Corps and HCOHSEM will be actively engaged in preparedness initiatives and encourages residents to follow Harris County Citizen Corps and ReadyHarris on social media for important information about making and practicing an emergency plan, learning lifesaving skills, getting flood insurance, and saving for an emergency.
Make and practice emergency plan
Your plan should include a disaster supply kit with enough non-perishable food and water to last seven to ten days. Below are other essential items to include:
- Copies of insurance papers and identification sealed in a watertight plastic bag
- First-aid kit
- NOAA weather radio and batteries
- Mobile phone and charger
- Prescription medicines
- Sleeping bag or blankets
- Personal hygiene items such as toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, and deodorant
- Essential supplies for infants and the medically fragile
- Cash or checkbook
- Pet supplies including food, water, leashes, bedding, and vaccination records
Your family may not be together if a disaster strikes, so it is important to know how you will contact one another and reconnect if separated. Establish a family meeting place that is familiar and easy to find and practice your plan.
Learn life-saving skills
“Disasters can strike at any moment, but being prepared can make a difference in your safety and recovery,” added Emmett. “Be assured that the county will continue to work to prepare our communities, but it is up to each individual to prepare themselves and their families.”
In addition to your personal preparedness, consider getting involved in neighborhood and community emergency preparedness activities. The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills.
“During a disaster, first responders may not be able to arrive immediately, so people will have to rely on each other,” said Harris County Emergency Management Coordinator Mark Sloan. “If they are trained, they can provide critical support until help arrives.”
Other basic things that residents should do to protect their families and homes:
- Eliminate common electrical and fire hazards around your house and property.
- Install smoke, carbon monoxide and natural gas alarms and test them monthly.
- Teach children what to do when the alarms go off.
- Discuss two ways out of your home in the event of a fire and practice evacuation plans.
- Know how to turn off the water and natural gas utilities in your home.
- Develop and practice a family communication plan and discuss it with your family.
- Have emergency supplies in place at home, at work and in the car.
- Pay attention to alerts and warnings from trusted sources.
CERT members can assist others in their neighborhood or workplace following an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help. Call Harris County Citizen Corps at (281) JOIN NOW (564-6669) or go to HarrisCountyCitizenCorps.com to sign up for classes or to get information about other volunteer opportunities. You can also get Harris County Citizen Corps news and updates on Facebook.
Having insurance for your home or business property is the best way to ensure you will have the necessary financial resources to help you repair, rebuild or replace whatever is damaged. Review existing policies for the amount and extent of coverage to ensure that you are covered for all possible hazards.
Homeowners insurance does not typically cover flooding, so you may need to purchase flood insurance from the National Flood Insurance Program. Flood insurance policies have a 30-day waiting period after the purchase date before coverage takes effect. Get additional information at Floodsmart.gov.
Save for an emergency
People at all income levels have experienced the challenges of rebuilding their lives after a disaster or other emergency. In these stressful circumstances, having access to personal financial, insurance, medical and other records is crucial for starting the process of recovery quickly and efficiently.
It is important to prepare in advance by gathering and safeguarding critical documents including:
- Photo IDs
- Birth certificates
- Social security cards
- Insurance policies
- Medical and immunization records
- Pet ID tags and shot records
Consider saving money in an emergency savings account that could be used in any crisis. Keep a small amount of cash at home in a safe place and have small bills on hand because ATM’s and credit cards may not work during a disaster when you need to purchase necessary supplies, fuel or food.
Go to ReadyHarris.org for preparedness tips and/or download the free ReadyHarris app, from the App Store or Google Play. The ReadyHarris app delivers real time weather alerts, hosts a step-by-step guide to building a personalized family disaster plan, tip sheets, evacuation routes, and locates local emergency services.
For more information about NPM and the Ready Campaign visit www.ready.gov.