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Hope for the Best, Prepare for the Worst: September is National Preparedness Month

On this seventh anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks, preparedness in the event of a disaster has even greater importance to Americans.

As a society, we must be ready to handle – at a moment’s notice – emergencies in our homes, businesses and communities.

But it’s not just the ongoing threat of attack for which we should prepare. Natural disasters – such as devastating hurricanes, floods and earthquakes – and the outbreak of epidemic diseases all demand a plan.

“Those with the capacity and wherewithal to help themselves must do so in advance, so that in the event of an emergency, responders can first assist those who are unable to tend to themselves,” said Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, in a statement.

Throughout September, the Department of Homeland Security’s Ready Campaign – part of National Preparedness Month – highlights preparedness steps, including having an emergency supply kit, making a family emergency plan, and becoming informed about different types of emergencies.

STEP 1: MAKING A KIT

Recommended Items to Include in a Basic Emergency Supply Kit

Water – One gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation

Food – at least a three-day supply of nonperishable food

Can opener

Battery-powered or hand-crank radio and a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio with tone alert, and extra batteries for both

Flashlight and extra batteries

First-aid kit

Whistle to signal for help

Dust mask, to help filter contaminated air; plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place

Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation

Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities

Local maps

Other items to consider for your emergency-preparedness kit

STEP 2: CREATE A FAMILY EMERGENCY PLAN

It may be easier to make a long-distance phone call than to call across town, so an out-of-town contact may be in a better position to communicate among separated family members.

Be sure every member of your family knows the phone number and has coins or a prepaid phone card to call the emergency contact.

You may have trouble getting through, or the telephone system may be down altogether, but be patient.

STEP 3: STAY INFORMED

There are important differences among potential emergencies that will impact the decisions you make and the actions you take. Learn more about the potential emergencies that could happen where you live and the appropriate way to respond to them.

Emergency preparedness is no longer the sole concern of earthquake prone Californians and those who live in the part of the country known as “Tornado Alley.” For Americans, preparedness must now account for man-made disasters as well as natural ones. Knowing what to do during an emergency is an important part of being prepared and may make all the difference when seconds count.

While you should hope for the best, it’s wise to prepare for the worst. But are you ready? Take this disaster-preparedness quiz to obtain your Readiness Quotient: http://www.whatsyourrq.org/

National Preparedness Month also honors our nation’s police officers, firefighters, and emergency personnel for their hard work and commitment to protecting others. As first responders, these heroes personify dedicated bravery by taking risks to safeguard our communities, for which we are all thankful.

To learn more about the Ready Campaign and National Preparedness Month, visit www.ready.gov.

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