Every year, the United States observes National Preparedness Month in September to remind Americans to be ready for any man-made or natural disaster that could affect them, their homes, communities, or businesses. This month’s focus is to ensure every citizen is prepared for emergency disasters.
A disaster is an event that causes widespread human, material, economic, and/or environmental damage. This event can be a short-term or long-term one. Earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, fires, and even terrorist attacks are all classified as such. Whatever the cause, the result of such a disaster devastates societies, changing life as we know it. In some cases, disasters have also been known to change history as we know it.
HISTORY OF NATIONAL PREPAREDNESS MONTH
Some of the worst disasters in American history include the Great Mississippi River Flood of 1927. A levee burst, causing a torrent. This then took out other levees on the way south, flooding over 165 million acres. This flood resulted in Congress enacting the Flood Control Act the year after this disaster, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was given the responsibility for flood control on the Mississippi River.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) created the National Preparedness Month (NPM) three years after the September 11 attacks to encourage every American to plan for emergencies. This month is managed and sponsored by FEMA’s Ready Campaign. They chose September for its historical significance and the fact that the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season is in the middle of this month.
FEMA, for its part, has been around since the 1800s — as a legislative act, initially, and was officially launched by President Jimmy Carter in 1979. The September terror attacks spurred the creation of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and FEMA became an agency under this department.
If you were caught in the middle of a natural disaster, today, like a tornado, wildfire, snowstorm, winter freeze, hurricane, or flood, would you have the most essential supplies to help you survive? We have provided an essential family emergency checklist below that will ensure you have the right supplies to help you and your loved ones stay ready for anything.
Having a supply of water is essential in case of a natural disaster or emergency. It’s recommended that you keep 1 gallon per day per person, and plan for multiple days. The water can be used for drinking, preparing food, and sanitation.
- Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits, and vegetables
- Canned juices, milk, soup
- Staples such as sugar, salt, and pepper
- High energy foods like peanut butter, jelly, crackers, granola bars, and trail mix
- Food for infants, elderly persons, or persons with special diet requirements
FIRST AID KIT & MEDICAL SUPPLIES
- Sterile adhesive bandages in assorted sizes
- Sterile gauze pads
- Hypoallergenic adhesive tape
- Sterile roller bandages
- Scissors, tweezers, needle, safety pins
- Moistened towelettes
- Petroleum jelly, cleansing soap, sunscreen
- Latex gloves
- Variety of non-prescription medicine such as aspirin, Tylenol, and antacid
TOOLS & SUPPLIES
- Pliers, tape, compass, matches in a waterproof container
- Aluminum foil, plastic storage containers, plastic garbage bags
- Signal flare, whistle, paper, pencil
- Flashlight or other light sources
- Toilet paper, towelettes, soap, liquid detergent
- Feminine supplies, personal hygiene items
- Plastic bucket with a tight lid
CLOTHING & BEDDING
- Sturdy shoes or work boots
- Rain gear
- Sleeping bags
- Winter clothing
- Hats and gloves
- Protective clothing
SPECIALTY AND PERSONAL ITEMS
- Baby formula, bottles, diapers, sippy cups
- Powdered milk
- Extra eye glasses or contact lenses
- Board games and books
- Important documents stored in waterproof container
Be sure to tell your friends, co-workers, extended family, and others about National Preparedness Month. Encourage them 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 each individual.