We would be negligent if we let September breeze by without discussing National Preparedness Month, a time our state and federal governments emphasize the importance of being prepared for emergencies.

We would be negligent if we let September breeze by without discussing National Preparedness Month, a time our state and federal governments emphasize the importance of being prepared for emergencies.


The theme for the 2014 National Preparedness Month is "Be Disaster Aware, Take Action to Prepare." This year marks the 11th time the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Department of Homeland Security have set their sights on September with a goal to educate the public about how to prepare for emergencies, including natural disasters, mass casualties, biological and chemical threats, radiation emergencies and terrorist attacks.


Families and households should first develop an emergency plan:


• Who to call? Identify an out-of-town contact, who may be in a better position to communicate with family members.


• Where to meet?


• What to pack?


Part of the plan should include determining the safest course of action for various types of hazards — do we evacuate or stay put?


According to Ready Arkansas, a service of the Arkansas Citizen Corps Program and the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management, a basic emergency supply kit should include one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation; at least a three-day supply of nonperishable food; battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio; flashlight; extra batteries; first aid kit; whistle to signal for help; dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place; moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation; wrench or pliers to turn off utilities; can opener; local maps; cellphone with chargers, inverter or solar charger.


Other items to consider adding to the kit include prescription medications; infant formula and diapers; pet food; cash; important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container; sleeping bags or warm blankets; matches in a waterproof container; paper cups, plates and plastic utensils, paper towels; books, games, puzzles for children.


Change the stored water and food supplies every six months. Keep items in airtight plastic bags and put your entire kit in one or two easy-to-carry containers.


FEMA is promoting "America’s PrepareAthon! Day" on Tuesday, Sept. 30, advising citizens to "Be smart, take part, prepare, and join America’s movement to stay safe during disasters." FEMA and Ready.gov recommend going over your plan twice a year and re-evaluating your emergency kit annually as your family’s needs change.


As we go through our busy daily lives, it’s easy to think that natural disasters or terrorist attacks are events that happen elsewhere. But we should not be complacent; it is more realistic to acknowledge that a disaster could happen anywhere, at any time, including in your town or backyard.


A stressful and frightening situation could be made a little easier for you and your family with a little planning and preparation.