Emergency Preparedness

Imagine trying to drive to the store for batteries and bottled water while 95 mph winds rage around you. Imagine trying to get to your elderly parents' home by slogging through knee-deep flood water. Imagine trying to decide how to handle an emergency while the emergency is going on around you.

National Preparedness Month was created to help people avoid those kinds of scenarios. The observance, held each September since 2004, was started as a project of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Department of Homeland Security as a way to share information to help the general public prepare for --- and respond to --- emergencies.

Trying to plan ahead for emergencies can be overwhelming, so we suggest breaking it down into a three-step process: make a kit, make a plan, and stay informed.

Make a Plan

Your first step in getting prepared is to create a personalized emergency plan to cover what you will do before, during, and after an emergency. The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) Center for Emergency Preparedness (CEP) has created the Are You Ready? Emergency Preparedness Guide, which covers each phase of emergency preparedness in great detail. The guide is available for you to download and use as you start the preparation process.

This Make A Plan form from Ready.gov will help you get organized once you put your plan together. Fill it out and make sure everyone in your family has a copy. The form lists emergency contacts and has places to list meeting places, the names of your doctors, pediatricians and veterinarians, and other important information so that everyone will be on the same page even if you are separated from one another during or after an emergency.

Make a Kit

One of the most important things you can do is put together an emergency kit. This kit will help you through the days after an emergency while you wait for power to be restored or to be able to access your home again. Get the listed items together and store them in airtight plastic bags, and keep them in one or two containers that will be easy to carry with you.

Your emergency kit should include:

  • Water --- 1 gallon per person, per day
  • Food --- 2-week supply of non-perishable food per person
  • Manual Can Opener
  • Medications --- 1 month's worth of all prescription medications. Don't forget to rotate your stockpile based on expiration dates!
  • First Aid Kit
  • Flashlight (and don't forget the extra batteries!)
  • Radio (and don't forget the extra batteries! Unless you have a crank-operated or solar-powered radio...)
  • Clothes
  • Personal Care Items --- soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, feminine products, etc.
  • Important Documents --- copies of IDs, birth certificates, deeds, bank account information, etc.

Remember: having these items in your home is great, but unless they are assembled and ready to go in a matter of seconds, they may not be of help. You need to be able to grab your kit and go without having to run all over the house to gather them together at the last minute.

For more information on building an emergency kit, visit Ready.gov.

Stay Informed

Staying on top of developing emergency situations has never been easier. Federal and state agencies and local news outlets use a variety of apps and alert systems to provide up-to-the-minute updates and alerts directly to your phone that will help you when it's time to act, including:

  • FEMA App --- Provides real-time weather and emergency alerts. You can also use it to send notifications to loved ones and locate emergency shelters in your area.
  • Emergency Alert System (EAS) --- National public warning system used by state and local authorities to deliver weather alerts from the National Weather Service and to notify the public of any imminent threats. The EAS be activated on a national level by the president of the United States to address the nation in the event of a large-scale incident.

Find out more about emergency alerts at Ready.gov.

Planning for Those with Special Considerations

Everyone's emergency plan is going to look different. Follow the links below to make sure your plan will accommodate everyone's needs.

Tips for Medications

Ready.gov offers the following tips for including medications in your emergency plan:

  • Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about how you can create an emergency supply of medicines.
  • Keep a list of your prescription medications, including details about diagnosis, dosage, frequency, and allergies.
  • Store extra nonprescription drugs like pain relievers, antihistamines, and fever relievers.
  • Include a cooler and chemical ice packs in your emergency kit to chill medicines that need to be refrigerated.

Tips for Specific Disasters