September — before the weather turns to winter in the high country and outdoor activities resume in the deserts — is the perfect time to prepare for disasters that can happen at any time.
State and federal governments have declared each September as National Preparedness Month to help individuals, families and communities get ready for the unexpected.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s 2021 theme is Prepare to Protect. Preparing for disasters is protecting everyone you love. FEMA, the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs, and the Arizona Department of Health Services are focusing on four key steps you and your family can take to improve your overall readiness.
Make a Plan: What will you do, and how will you communicate before, during and after a disaster? What is your evacuation route, and where will you meet if you get separated? Talk to your friends and family so everyone knows in advance. You might want to practice what to do. Keep in mind the variety of severe weather that occurs across Arizona.
Don’t forget to consider Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations related to COVID-19, such as keeping a mask nearby.
Build a Kit: What supplies will everyone in your home need if a disaster lasts for several days? What medicines or other special supplies will you need to address for family members as well as pets? Do you have masks for everyone? What about cultural or religious considerations, and any necessary accessibility devices or equipment? Be ready in case you have to evacuate quickly, keep your kit up to date.
Low-Cost, No-Cost Preparedness: In a disaster you will need to get information as early as possible and react quickly. Signing up for emergency alerts from your county and FEMA, as well as safeguarding important documents are low-cost and no-cost measures that you can take today to lessen the impact of disasters and emergencies for you and your family.
Teach Youth About Preparedness: Emergencies can be scary for children. Reassure them by talking about preparing for emergencies and what to do in case you are separated. Show them how they can get involved.
When you’ve taken those steps to prepare, congratulations! Be sure to encourage your friends, co-workers, extended family and others to take steps toward building their own preparedness plans. By working together, we can build communities that are more resilient and protect the health and well-being of all Arizonans.
Be sure to visit the Arizona Emergency Information Network for more tips on emergency preparedness, up-to-date information on disasters in Arizona, and social media links for warnings and alerts.
These are just a few of the things we can all do to mitigate the impacts of emergencies and disasters on our lives.
Remember to spread the word about preparedness and help ensure those you care about are ready for the unexpected.
Editor's note: Jessica Rigler is assistant director overseeing the Division of Public Health Preparedness at the Arizona Department of Health Services. Visit azdhs.gov.