September is National Preparedness Month. When most people think of preparing for an emergency, they typically think about non-perishable food, water, a first-aid kit and making sure they have batteries. In reality, you are not just buying supplies, you are protecting the life you have built for you and your family – your home, your health, your belongings, your legacy. This year’s National Preparedness Month theme is “A Lasting Legacy.” Disasters not only pose a risk to life safety but can rob you of precious items like family photo albums, important documents, antiques, family heirlooms and keepsakes. Take the time now to protect your family’s legacy by preparing for disasters.
Each week in September will highlight a different aspect of preparedness. Stafford County Emergency Management will be posting resources to help residents take steps to prepare their home and vehicle. With peak hurricane season mid-September, and winter weather right around the corner, now is the time to prepare.
Week 1: Build a Kit
Everyone should have enough supplies on hand to be self-sufficient for at least three days. Start with the basics of water (at least one gallon per person, per day), non-perishable food and any required medication. For a more detailed list of recommended items, please visit www.ready.gov/kit. Be sure to consider your family’s unique needs including pets, dietary needs and considerations for any access, disabilities or functional needs. If you already have an emergency kit, be sure to check the contents at least once a year for any expired items, as well as updating and replacing any items that are no longer needed or your family has outgrown.
Week 2: Plan Ahead
Make a plan today. Your family may not be together if a disaster strikes. It’s important to know how you will contact one another and reconnect if separated – especially if cell phones are unavailable. Establish a family meeting place that is familiar and easy to find. To help get you started, download a free Family/Household Communication Plan - https://www.ready.gov/sites/default/files/2021-04/family-emergency-communication-plan.pdf. Follow official emergency information updates and make sure you are signed up for emergency alerts with Stafford Alert www.staffordcountyva.gov/alert.
Week 3: Protect Your Family
Protect your home and family by removing common home and property hazards. Now is the time to have dead trees cleared or trimmed around your house. Keep your roof and gutter free of debris. Have a professional check your chimney to make sure your fireplace is safe to use. Do not overload outlets or use extension cords under rugs. Make sure your batteries are charged in smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. Putting off routine repairs or preventive maintenance can exacerbate disaster situations. Call your insurance company to check your plan’s coverage. To find out if you are in a flood plain and need flood insurance visit: www.staffordcountyva.gov/floodzones.
If you have a medical condition, check with your power company to see if you can register for the medical conditions list. Dominion Energy, www.dominionenergy.com/virginia/start-stop-service/medical-conditions, requires a form with a physician’s signature. If you are on the medical conditions list, Dominion’s website says they will make every effort to restore service quickly.
Week 4: Teaching Youth to Prepare
Teaching your children to prepare for a disaster empowers your children to be confident and less fearful during emergencies. For age appropriate resources to involve your children in the planning process, visit www.ready.gov/kids. You’ll find tools, games and information in a kid-friendly format to help get the whole family involved. Whether you’re a kid or teen yourself, a parent or loved one, or work with youth, Ready Kids has tools and information to help before, during and after disasters.
More information can be found at www.ready.gov and by watching for posts on the Stafford County Emergency Management and Stafford County Government social media sites throughout the month of September.