September is National Preparedness Month, and this year’s theme focuses on planning ahead, according the Ready Campaign, a public service campaign meant to help educate and prepare citizens for all sorts of emergencies.

According to the Ready Campaign, this year’s theme of planning ahead will center around the idea, “Disasters don’t plan ahead. You can.”

The campaign’s website says we should all take action to prepare and be able to help first responders by researching how to properly handle different types of emergencies. Ready breaks their education process into distinct sections.


1) Make a plan for yourself, family and friends

The Ready Campaign suggests putting together a plan by discussing four basic questions with your household, being sure to go over them carefully with kids.

How will I receive emergency alerts and warnings? What is my shelter plan? What is my evacuation route? What is my family or household communication plan?


Families should consider specific needs in their households while taking disabilities, age and other unique elements into consideration. After everything is accounted for, families are encouraged to fill out a family emergency plan and practice with their kids.


2) Plan to help your neighbors and community

Once the household knows how they are going to take care of themselves, the Ready Campaign suggests figuring out different ways to help neighbors sharing the emergency. According to the campaign, almost half of Americans expect to rely on their neighbors after a disaster. Families can also find the places in their community that are designated safe spaces during emergencies.

Residents can also help other households by learning to manually shut of their utilities, and be able to help their neighbors do the same. Natural gas leaks can cause fires following various disasters, according to Ready, and can be easily prevented.

Ready additionally suggests learning basic first aid skills in order to be available until first responders arrive on the scene.


3) Practice and Build out your plans

As families practice their preparedness plans, Ready suggests making what they call an Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (EFFAK). Ready states that having access to personal financial records is essential for recovering after the disaster and can be collected easily ahead of time.

Gather financial, personal, household and medical information on everyone in the household. Residents should consider having an emergency savings account to be used in case of a crisis. Having a small amount of cash kept in a safe place is also a good idea, according to Ready. They explained that electronic methods of payment may not work during a disaster. Collect documents for all types of insurance, such as health, homeowners and life and review your policies.


The Ready Campaign hosts resources for families to study at their website, ready.gov. Residents can study webinars and obtain toolkits to help them learn about what they can do in different types of emergency situations. Residents can also learn more about National Preparedness Month itself.