September is National Preparedness Month
Now is a good time to update your plan.
September is National Preparedness Month.
Seems like 2020 did not want to wait for September for us to think about preparing for disaster.
Prepared or not 2020 hit like a freight train with no brakes. We careen from one disaster to another. The flu, COVID-19, floods, fires, landslides, hurricanes, tornados, volcanic eruptions, civil unrest, racism, economic distress, Midwest derecho, humanitarian crises. The disasters just keep coming.
No one needs to tell any of us this year that we need to be prepared for a whole host of things. Many of you will have already gone through your plans and updated everything, but one thing I know for sure is, right now, things change quickly. What felt like the right plan today, may need to change tomorrow.
Illness, natural disasters, accidents all happen everyday all over the world. I am reminded by Ready.gov every September to think about updating my plans. Maybe you do too. If this is you, think about what you need if you had to evacuate your home NOW. Preparing so you can collect to these things quickly and get to safety is key.
Some things you can do to prepare.
- Review your essential documents: your wills, your power of attorney, your healthcare proxy, your health care power of attorney, your living will, your family trust if you have one. Having these forms up to date and having copies with you in a disaster is essential. Work with your attorney to assure you have the right number of copies so the right people will have access if the need arises.
- Prepare for how you will stay in communication with your loved ones. The Ready.gov website has numerous resources to help you collect this vital information. Be sure to include not only your most trusted local contacts, but also, those outside your area in case communications with local loved ones is not possible. If you have a landline with a call forwarding feature, forward calls from your landline to your cell.
- Set up alerts with you State’s Office of Emergency Management to get warnings sent to your cell phone. Events change quickly, and it is important to get information about pending severe storms, floods or other emergencies.
- Text don’t talk. When communicating in an emergency you are more likely to get through by text than you are by calling.
- Keep the most important data in a ready to go form. Information to include for each family member: date of birth, primary physician, pharmacy/medication list, allergies, epi pens if required. Also prepare instructions for family members who need assistive devices: walkers, wheelchairs, canes, dentures, glasses, hearing aids, braces, supplemental oxygen, cognitive support due to memory impariment or inability to read and follow written directions. Keep copies for each family member and be sure your emergency contacts have access to them as well. Be sure this includes the out of state contacts..
- Set up and use ICE. This stands for In Case of Emergency. Set up this contact on your cell phone so if you are unable to communicate this number can be used to connect to your family or loved ones.
- Prepare emergency supplies, like food, water, medications, first aid supplies, cash, copies of essential documents, pet necessities, pillows, blankets, change of clothes, batteries, and chargers for your cell phone to name a few, should be prepared in “go bag” for a more complete list visit the Red Cross or Ready.gov
- Protect your data with regular backups. Being able to access important data is critical for recovery efforts. Computers are an essential part of most families and businesses. Prepare your back up strategy. Think what do I need on paper, what do I need electronically, what do I need to save locally, and what do I need to save in a distant location? Remember that though an external hard drive can save you from disaster if your computer fails, it will do little if your home or office burns down with both devices inside. If you don’t feel comfortable with “Cloud” solutions, then maybe a second hard drive that is periodically updated and stored in a remote location would suit you better. The idea is to protect against losing everything. If power fails, will you have access to the needed documents? A multi-layer system with plans for if you have power or if you do not is wise.
- Don’t be caught without your most essential documents. Those are the ones you will need to begin to rebuild in the case of a major disaster. Keep copies of your most essential documents like credit cards, licenses, certifications, insurance policies, marriage certificates, divorce decrees, birth certificates, naturalization papers, DD214’s (military discharge documents), Social Security cards, passports and any other documents that you would have a difficult time to replace in a secure location as well as ready to take with you in case of emergency. Make sure to let a trusted person know the location where they are stored and who has access. These vital documents are best kept in a location where they can be quickly accessed in an emergency. You may only have minutes to gather these important documents in an actual emergency.
- Decide in advance how and where your family will meet in an emergency, and what your plan B is if that is not possible. Make sure everyone knows who your emergency contacts outside the area are and how they can be reached. If everyone understands that the out of area emergency contact is Aunt Sally, she will be the conduit to helping you all reconnect.
Being prepared is essential, September is a great time to make sure that your family is prepared! If you need help with your system let’s talk!