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Within the past two years, many Virginians have been affected by natural disasters, from the historic Mineral earthquake to hurricanes Irene and Sandy to Tropical Storm Lee to a severe derecho wind storm and also winter storms.
Being ready for emergencies is essential, and there is no better time to prepare than September, which is National Preparedness Month.
“Advance planning for disasters pays off,” said Michael Cline, state coordinator of emergency management. “Those who have taken some time to get their families, homes and businesses ready for emergencies recover more quickly. Also, it doesn’t have to cost a lot or take a lot of time to prepare.”
Families and individuals should plan as though they will be without electricity, water service, access to a supermarket or other local services for at least three days. Follow these steps:
Make a plan -- This may be the single most important thing you can do, and it’s free. Make sure everyone in your family understands where to go and what to do in case of an emergency. Update your contact information and post it in visible places in your home and workplace. Get a free emergency plan worksheet at www.ReadyVirginia.gov or download the Ready Virginia app from the App Store and Google Play.
Set aside emergency supplies -- Don’t wait for a storm. Buy preparedness items throughout the year instead of all at once. Shop at sales and used goods stores.Choose the essentials that fit your needs and budget. If you don’t have emergency supplies, September is a good time to get started. Get a list at www.ReadyVirgina.gov.
Store water -- You don’t have to buy expensive bottled water. Just make sure your water containers are disinfected and airtight. Have at least a three-day supply of water on hand – that’s one gallon per person per day.
Check your policy -- Take a few minutes to review your insurance policy during National Preparedness Month. Get with your agent to make any necessary changes. Consider adding flood insurance because most policies don’t include it. Renters can get flood insurance, too. Visit www.floodsmart.gov for more.
Stay informed -- Stay aware of changing weather conditions by monitoring local media reports. Get a battery-powered and/or hand-crank radio with a weather band so you can hear emergency information when the power is out.
To learn more about National Preparedness Month and to join the national community of people and organizations who have pledged to prepare in September, go to www.Ready.gov.