WASHINGTON, DC (WWLP)– Are you ready should a natural disaster strike where you live or work?

September is National Preparedness Month (NPM) and this year’s theme is “A Lasting Legacy: The life you’ve built is worth protecting. Prepare for disasters to create a lasting legacy for you and your family.” The annual campaign is an effort to raise awareness about the importance of preparing for disasters and emergencies that could happen at any time. 

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers these guidelines for preparing for an emergency:

  • Learn your risks and make a plan. Ready.gov offers free resources to learn more about the disasters you may face and what to consider when planning for them.
  • Access local resources. Contact your local fire department to find out if they may have programs that provide fire or carbon monoxide detectors. Check online for free or discounted CPR courses offered near you.
  • Sign up for free emergency alerts in your area to receive life-saving information from your state and local municipality.
  • Verify your home is fully insured for the disaster risks in your area. Talk to your insurance agent to ensure there are no gaps in your coverage, but also remember you should shop around to get the best rate. Ask about discounts that may be available and consider increasing the deductibles to reduce your premiums.
  • Make sure everyone in the house knows how to turn off the electricity, gas and water in case of emergency.
  • Store important documents and information in a safe place. Items like passports, birth certificates, maps and electronics should be put in a flood-safe place like a high shelf or upper floor in resealable, water-tight plastic bags to help waterproof them. Store important documents like insurance policies digitally. Make sure you put important phone numbers somewhere besides just your cell phone.
  • Build your emergency supply kit over time. Start with items you may already have in your home, like a flashlight, extra batteries, copies of important documents, water and non-perishable food. When you go to the grocery store, pick up an extra item each time that you use regularly, especially if it’s on sale! Community food banks are a potential resource for food-insecure families to stock their emergency supply kits. Also consider battery-free supplies, like wind-up flashlights and weather radios, and it’s a good idea to have an external phone charger at the ready in case of a power outage.   

The National Preparedness Month initiative began in 2003 and is managed and sponsored by FEMA’s Ready Campaign.