DISASTER PREPAREDNESS — Prepared, Not Scared. Be Ready for Disasters


By Soni Cochran, Extension Associate, Lancaster County

This year has been challenging for many Nebraska families and it is a reminder how quickly our lives can change when there is a natural or man-made disaster. September is National Preparedness Month. This year’s theme is “Prepared, Not Scared. Be Ready for Disasters.”

Start the conversation over dinner tonight with your family. Think about how you have prepared for emergencies and what steps you need to take to be better prepared. Here are some suggestions from http://ready.gov:

• Review your homeowners or renter’s insurance policy. Does it cover a flood? Many insurance policies do not cover floods. What is the deductible? Do you need to update your insurance plan? If you decide to purchase flood insurance, it may take 30 days before the policy goes into effect. Plan ahead.

• Take photos of your property, personal belongings and important documents. Store these on a portable flash drive or external hard drive. Keep your information in a safe, secure location that can be accessed in an emergency.

• Download the Emergency Financial First Aid Kid to help you prepare financially for disasters and emergencies. The joint publication from Operation Hope and FEMA is free. Visit http://www.ready.gov/financial-preparedness or call 1-800-480-2520 and ask for publication 1705.

• Involve your children in preparedness activities. Review your family emergency plan together so your children know what to do even if you are not with them.

• Create a plan to shelter-in-place. Create a plan in case you have to evacuate. Don’t forget to include your pets and other animals in your emergency plans.

• Plan for a power outage by having enough water, food and medications to last at least 72 hours. Build emergency kits for traveling or to take with you in case there is an evacuation.

• If there is an emergency and your family is not together, discuss how you will get in touch with each other. Consider a plan where each family member calls, or e-mails, the same friend or relative in the event of an emergency. An out-of-town contact may be easier to reach than someone in town.

• Install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors in your home. Every bedroom should have a working smoke detector and all detectors should be tested once a month. Batteries should be replaced at least once or twice a year according to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA). The USFA also recommends replacing smoke detectors over 10 years old.

• Make a family fire escape and evacuation plan and practice it at least twice a year. Map your home and ask your family to help determine the best ways to evacuate. Every room in your home should have two escape routes.

• Learn lifesaving skills. Take a first aid course, learn CPR and how to use an AED. Participate in a free Stop the Bleed class. Stop the Bleed trains you to react quickly in an emergency to stop uncontrolled bleeding until medical help arrives. For upcoming Stop the Bleed classes and registration, visit https://go.unl.edu/stopthebleed. Stop the Bleed classes are free.

These are just a few of the suggestions to start your family conversation. We can’t predict every disaster, but we can learn about possible risks in our area that could threaten our families and communities. Being informed can help us be better prepared.