National Preparedness Month (NPM*) is recognized each September to promote family and community disaster and emergency planning now and throughout the year. It’s an opportunity to remind us that we all must prepare ourselves and our families for when an emergency happens. This year’s NPM will focus on that planning, with an overarching theme: Prepared, Not Scared.   

The goal of NPM is to increase the overall number of individuals, families, and communities that engage in preparedness actions at home, work, business, school, and place of worship. All individuals should take time to learn lifesaving skills such as CPR and first aid, and check insurance policies and coverage for the hazards you may face, such as flood, earthquakes, and tornadoes. Make sure to consider the costs associated with disasters and save for an emergency. Also, know how to take practical safety steps like shutting off water and gas.

The devastating hurricanes of the past few years and wildfires of 2018 and 2019 have reminded the nation of the importance of preparing for disasters. Often, we will be the first ones in our communities to take action after a disaster strikes and before first responders arrive, so it is important to prepare in advance to help yourself and your community.

The website www.ready.gov is an excellent tool for preparedness information with information and links to additional resources. There you’ll find information on how to make a disaster or emergency plan.

Richland Public Health also has plenty of local disaster information at our emergency preparedness page. It’s located under the “Your Home” link at richlandhealth.org: https://richlandhealth.org/home-health/emergency-preparedness/    There, you will find a alphabetical listing of 60 downloadable PDF documents from the American Public Health Association (APHA) covering a variety of Emergency Preparedness issues.

Also on that site you will find a link to the Richland Public Health Emergency Response Plan, created along with the Shelby City Health Department. This plan was approved by the Ohio Department of Health as part of Ohio’s Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP).

During National Preparedness Month, the Ohio Department of Aging reminds all Ohioans that older adults may have a harder time adjusting during emergencies and extreme conditions than younger people do. This makes it even more important that older Ohioans have a plan for what to do if disaster strikes.

“Emergencies and disasters can happen quickly and without warning. Ensure the best by planning for the worst,” said Ursel J. McElroy, director of the department. “Take time this month to know what you will do if you are confined to your home or must leave it quickly.”

The Department of Aging recommends that all older Ohioans have a plan that will allow them to remain in place in their home or another location for at least three days. This includes:

  • A home emergency kit that contains, at a minimum, a battery-operated radio, a loud whistle or horn, food that can be opened and prepared easily, one gallon of water per person per day, extra blankets, and a first aid kit;
  • A “go-bag” with essentials you might need if you must leave your home quickly, including food and drink, toiletries, medication, a flashlight and batteries, a radio, a phone charger, important paperwork, identification, and some cash;
  • A backup supply of medications, and extra copies of your prescriptions from your health care providers (include a cooler and ice packs for medications that must be refrigerated); and
  • Any medical equipment or assistive devices (such as canes, walkers, wheelchairs, lifts, and oxygen tanks) you may need, with operation instructions and spare batteries or non-powered alternatives.

Be prepared to explain to rescuers how to move you or help you move safely and quickly, such as where to find any equipment or medications you will need. Ask a reliable family member, friend, or neighbor to visit or call you in severe weather or another emergency to make sure you are okay. Agree on what they should do if they are unable to reach you or find you needing help.

Your area agency on aging can point you to local resources to help you and your older loved ones be prepared. Call 1-866-243-5678 to be connected to the agency serving your community. Visit www.ready.ohio.gov and www.aging.ohio.gov/safeathome for more tips and resources.

*NPM is sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) “Ready Campaign” in partnership with Citizen Corps to encourage Americans to make sure they are prepared for disasters or emergencies in their homes, businesses, and communities.