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Kicking Off National Preparedness Month

by Darell Hammond

This post originally appeared on the FEMA blog on September 1, 2011.

This year has shown us that disasters can strike anywhere, and can often come unexpectedly. This year alone, we've seen historic flooding along many rivers, deadly tornadoes in several states, a hurricane hit the East Coast (including New England), and recently, even an earthquake in Virginia.

So as we kick off National Preparedness Month, I have an important question for you – are you ready?

In the past few weeks, I've been doing media interviews, telling folks what FEMA's doing and stressing the importance of getting your family prepared for an emergency. And this morning, I kicked off National Preparedness Month with an event in New York City, with Joe Bruno, Director of the New York City Office of Emergency Management.

So if you haven't had a chance yet, I encourage you to take three simple steps so you can be better prepared before a disaster strikes. I've said them a lot lately, but I'll say it again here:

  • Make a plan – Getting in touch after a disaster and making sure loved ones are OK is vital to every survivor. Make sure your family knows how they would get in touch after an emergency, even if cell phone service is down. And decide on a safe meeting location where you could meet up, in case you are separated.
        
  • Get a kit – Ensure that you and your family (including pets) has an emergency supply kit that can sustain you for at least 72 hours. Some commonly forgotten items include prescription medicines, important documents, and items for your pets. (A full list of items we suggest for your kit is on Ready.gov)
        
  • Be informed – Know the disasters that are more likely to occur in your community, and take advantage of local resources to make sure you have the latest information. Sign up for your city or state's emergency alert notifications (if available), and know where could find local news reports after a disaster.

I've told you my advice - now it's your turn. Tell us how you're getting your family, neighborhood or community better prepared. Share your tips on getting your family involved with practicing your emergency plan, or some of the most useful items you've added in your emergency kit.

And if you haven't already, join us and become a National Preparedness Month coalition member. You'll get access to tools to help promote preparedness in your home, workplace, or community, and you'll be able to collaborate with the over 6,000 coalition members to see how they're getting the word out.

I look forward to hearing how you're taking strides to make America a safer, more prepared nation.

Craig Fugate is the Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Administration.

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