Are you prepared?

September is National Preparedness Month, a reminder that a disaster can hit at any time, and the best way to minimize its impact is to be prepared.

During my days at the American Red Cross, I often spoke with groups about fires safety and prevention, so let’s look at simple steps you can take to keep you and your loved ones safe.

One morbid statistic, before we begin. If fire strikes your home, you have about 2 minutes to get out. That’s not much time, so being prepared pays off.

Smoke alarms
You should have one on each level of your home, in every bedroom, and in hallways outside of bedrooms. Test and vacuum them monthly — they collect dust that can impact performance — and change batteries twice a year.

Have a plan
Every household should have, and practice an escape plan. Identify two ways out of each room, as well as a meeting place outside for the family. And practice you plan. If you have young children, include them in the planning to better engage them.

Grab one to go
Make a “grab bag” for every member — human and animal — of the house. The bags stay near an exit or somewhere where you can “grab” them quickly on your way out the door in an emergency, such as fire or weather event. Include whatever you think would be needed if you have to leave home, such as:

– Emergency clothing

– List of medications

– Important phone numbers

– Cash

– Flashight and batteries

– Small games to occupy the kids

– Dog food, extra collar and leash, etc.

– A book or a deck of card (in case you land in a shelter)

The list of possible items goes on — and differs for reach person. Spend a few minutes thinking about what you’d need to function if you were driven from your home.

Hopefully the only time you touch your grab bag is to dust it, but if you ever need it, you’ll be glad it’s there.

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