When we think of September, many of us think of Labor Day, the changing of summer to fall, and the start of a new school year. But did you also realize that September is National Preparedness Month? That’s right, all of September is dedicated to building up our emergency preparedness, stocking our food storage pantry shelves, and jarring our favorite fruits, vegetables, and jellies. What better way to kick off our first Food Storage Friday of September than reviewing a few things we all can do to better prepare ourselves and our family members.

As part of National Preparedness Month, FEMA has created an impressive website devoted to preparing for the unknown called Ready.gov. On that website, they have a pledge that people can take to better prepare themselves and their friends and family members. Within that pledge are four main steps that we can all do to be better prepared. Today we’re going to take a more in-depth look at those steps.

Learn the emergency I am at risk of and the appropriate response to it

Though we never know exactly what disaster will hit us or when exactly it will happen, preparing for a specific disaster relative to the place in which we live will help our preparation in the long run. The likelihood of a Southern California resident facing a blizzard is relatively low. So too would be an Arizona resident facing a Hurricane. Though there is always a chance when it comes to natural disasters, having a stack of winter coats may not help you or your family through a drought. Or an inflatable raft may not be the best supply on hand during an earthquake. Understanding what natural disasters are more likely to hit your area can help you narrow down your list of emergency necessities.

Create (or update) an emergency supply kit

A 72-hour kit, or “bug out kit” as some call it, is essential for every member of your family. This is a basic kit or bag that includes supplies to help you survive for a 72 hour period.  For more information on what to include in you and your families kits, check out our 72-hour kit and Emergency Preparedness post.  Always remember that a majority of the products in your emergency kit may not have the same shelf life as many of the products found in your food storage pantry, so rotating those products out and adding newer products is an important part of preparation. Having a 72-hour kit containing food you can’t eat or water you can’t drink is essentially having no kit at all.

Create (or update) an emergency plan

Sometimes when we make emergency preparations, we tend to forget the lives that we regularly live. If an emergency hits at 1 p.m. in the afternoon, where will everyone be? Will the kids be at school? Will mom and dad be at work? If so, how do we contact each other? And if we can’t contact each other, do we have a designated place to meet? This is another subject we talk further about in our 72-hour kit and Emergency Preparedness post, but having a designated location and plan is just as important in an emergency as is food and water. Taking the time now to prepare a well, thought out plan, and then discussing it with your family, can make a huge difference when disaster strikes.

Volunteer, attend preparedness training or host a preparedness event in my community

I know what many of you think when you hear the word “prepper.” Typically the first thought that comes to mind is a solitary person, living away from the world and focused on preparing for an unseen event. Well let’s put that idea to rest by suggesting this simple statement: “When prepared, help others prepare.” It’s real simple. Preparing for an emergency helps us develop ideas and skills that we can pass on to others. There is nothing written saying that we should just focus on ourselves and leave the rest of the world on their own. In fact, for many of us, this is the last thing any of us do when a disaster or emergency hits our area. Our first thoughts, after our family, is wondering what we can do to help our friends and neighbors, so why not help them now instead of waiting for the emergency to hit. Also, it is always a good idea to take classes and seek more information on what more we can do in our emergency preparedness.
Yes, we will all face emergencies in our lives, whether natural, economical, or emotional. But taking the time now to thoughtfully prepare can help us weather the storms that life may throw at us in the future. In light of National Preparedness Month our Food Storage Friday posts will focus on the various natural disasters that you may face and the proper ways you can prepare yourself, your family, and others for such disasters. Stay tuned!