Be Prepared!

This article content is excerpted from the National Preparedness Month Coalition Member Toolkit and from www.Ready.Gov. The National Association of Professional Organizers is a Coalition Member Group.

National Preparedness Month (NPM) is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Ready Campaign, or   1-800-BE-READY. NPM is held each September and is designed to encourage Americans to take simple steps to prepare for natural and national emergencies in their homes, businesses and communities. September 2008 is the fifth annual NPM.

The month will focus on important preparedness steps including:

Step 1: Get an Emergency Supply Kit that includes items like non-perishable food, water, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra flashlights and batteries. You may want to prepare a portable kit and keep it in your car. This kit should include:

  • Copies of prescription medications and medical supplies
  • Bedding and clothing, including sleeping bags and pillows
  • Bottled water, a battery-operated radio and extra batteries, a first aid kit, a flashlight
  • Copies of important documents: driver’s license, Social Security card, proof of residence, insurance policies, wills, deeds, birth and marriage certificates, tax records, etc.

Step 2: Make a Family Emergency Plan. Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to know how you will contact one another, how you will get back together and what you will do in case of an emergency. Plan places where your family will meet, both within and outside of your immediate neighborhood.

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. You may also want to inquire about emergency plans at places where your family spends time: work, daycare and school. If no plans exist, consider volunteering to help create one.

Plan to Evacuate. Identify, ahead of time, where your family will meet, both within and outside of your immediate neighborhood. Identify several places you could go in an emergency, a friend’s home in another town, a motel or public shelter. If you do not have a car, plan an alternate means of evacuating. If you have a car, keep a half tank of gas in it at all times in case you need to evacuate.

Take your Emergency Supply Kit. Take your pets with you, but understand that only service animals may be permitted in public shelters. Plan how you will care for your pets in an emergency. Take a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) class from your local Citizen Corps chapter. Keep your training current.

Step 3: Be Informed about what might happen. Check the website,, for information about different types of threats and decisions you may have to make.

Step 4: Get Involved in preparing your community,, to get more information and get involved.

About the Author

Colleen Klimczak is a certified professional organizer whose business is located in the Chicago, South suburbs. For more information, visit

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