September is National Preparedness Month: Are You Ready for Natural Disasters?

In 2011 the natural disasters started on January 26th in California with one of the worst winter storms, causing flooding and debris and mud flows, but that was just the beginning of Mother Nature’s furry. According to FEMA’s Natural Disasters of 2011, to date the USA has been hit with severe winter storms and snowstorms, tsunami wave surges, tornadoes, flooding, and most recently Hurricane Irene. We still have 4 months of this year left…

With all of the weather-related traumas of this past year, it’s important to take to heart the lesson of National Preparedness month and to take a look at how you and your family can be ready in the event that disaster strikes. Towards this end, I give you the following tips on how to be ready for a natural disaster.

1. Have a Basic Emergency Supply Kit: These are just a few examples of the recommended items. For a more complete list, visit
• First aid kit, including an extra supply of medicines you/family members take on a daily basis.
• At least three days of non-perishable food for each person.
• Water. One gallon of water per person per day for at least three days.
• Flashlight with extra batteries and a battery powered radio.
2. Have a plan:
• Identify an out-of town contact. At times it may be easier to make a long-distance phone call than to call across town, so your out-of-town contact may be in a better position to facilitate communication between separated family members.
• Be sure every member of your family knows the phone number of your emergency contact. Ensure everyone has a cell phone, coins, or a prepaid phone card to call the emergency contact. If you have a cell phone, program that person as “ICE” (In Case of Emergency) in your phone. Make sure to tell your family and friends that you’ve listed them as emergency contacts.
• Teach family members how to use text messaging (also knows as SMS or Short Message Service). Text messages can often get around network disruptions when a phone call might not be able to get through. For younger children practice their home information, phone number and an emergency person’s name on a regular basis so they can tell anyone if they ever get separated from you.
• Subscribe to alert services and pay attention to them.
3. Be informed:
• Learn more about the potential emergencies that could happen where you live and the appropriate way to respond to them. In addition, learn about the emergency plans that have been established in your area by your state and local government. Emergency preparedness is no longer the sole concern of earthquake prone West coast residents and those who live in the Midwestern part of the country known as “Tornado Alley,” as we saw just south of Raleigh this spring. Knowing what to do during an emergency is an important part of being prepared and may make all the difference when seconds count.

Having lived in North Carolina for over 10 years, I have seen my share of hurricane damage and assorted weather disasters. These tips have been valuable to me and I hope that they help you to weather any storm that may come your way.


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Lori Bruhns

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