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September Is National Preparedness Month

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September 22, 2019
Edward Smith

September Is National Preparedness Month

September is National Preparedness Month around California, and in Sacramento on September 14, an event was held to help families prepare for the unexpected. Whether the unexpected disaster is an earthquake, forest fire, extreme weather or other disasters, being prepared can help reduce stress and provide protection for your loved ones and pets, your home and aid your community. 

Financial Readiness

During a disaster, there may not be time to run around gathering the documents you need. Planning ahead during National Preparedness Month and keeping those documents together can make a big difference. This is important if you have to leave your home or it becomes damaged by a disaster. Gathering your paperwork together and placing it in a fireproof box to take along with you is essential. The types of documents you should include are:

  • A household inventory: For insurance purposes, make up a list of all your possessions. Include a video or photographs to provide proof. In the event of fire or flood, this can help you negotiate with your insurance company. Don’t forget your automobiles and other outdoor possessions.
  • Important papers: Titles, deeds, wills, passports, marriage and birth certificates, health care cards, Social Security, mortgage/lease papers, and other documentation are important items to preserve. Keeping these in a safe deposit box at the bank can be a good idea. A copy of your will can be left with your attorney.
  • Keep a list of phone numbers for family members and friends as well as is important contacts such as your insurance company, landlord and the utility companies.
  • Make a list of your accounts such as your bank, insurance company, credit cards, investment accounts, and utilities and include phone and account numbers.
  • Make copies of prescription medicines you are taking.
  • For your pets, include their medical, vaccination, and prescription records. Don’t forget to take current photos and include the numbers of their ID chips in the event you become separated.
  • Make backups of the financial data on your computer.
  • When you have to leave, remember your house and car keys and your safe deposit key. Don’t forget to keep some cash at home to take along.

Kit for Emergency Preparedness

Making up an emergency kit during National Preparedness Month is quick and easy, so all you have to do is grab it if you have to leave or need it at home. There will be some last-minute items to include, so keep a list handy. Although emergency preparedness kits can be purchased and can save time and effort, you may have to add additional items to them. You may want to consider including the following items in your emergency kit:

  • One-week supply of emergency food supplies such as canned fish or meat, peanut butter, dried fruit, etc.
  • Paper and plastic products such as plates, tableware, napkins, paper towels, trash bags, ties, moist towelettes, etc.
  • Infant supplies such as diapers, bottles, carrier, etc.
  • Pet supplies such as water and food, bowls and leashes.
  • A manual can opener
  • One gallon of water per person per day, which includes water for washing
  • Prescription medicines and extra prescription eyeglasses if you have them
  • Appropriate clothing, including sturdy shoes and heavy gloves
  • Blankets or sleeping bags for each family member
  • Toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, feminine hygiene products if needed, and other items
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Matches in a waterproof container (a Ziplock or similar bag will do)
  • Radio and flashlights with extra batteries
  • Pliers or a wrench to shut off the gas 
  • First aid handbook and kit 
  • Cell phone with extra batteries and charger, preferably one that is solar-powered
  • Chlorine bleach and an eye-dropper: Sixteen drops of ordinary household bleach in one gallon of water will safely disinfect it. Do not use scented or color-safe bleach or the types with additives.
  • Local maps
  • Small extras for children such as a stuffed animal, book, etc.
  • A loud whistle in the event you need help

Emergency Plan

Having the items you may need or want to preserve that you’ve gathered during National Preparedness Month is a start toward being ready. However, you also need an emergency plan. This can include:

  • Make up an emergency plan and conduct periodic drills with family members, so everyone knows what to do.
  • Have an evacuation plan. All rooms need to have two escape routes in the event one of those paths is blocked. 
  • Locate a place where the family will reunite outside the home.
  • In the event of a major disaster, agree with family members to contact someone outside the area.
  • Find out where the shutoff valve is for your gas service, and learn how to turn it off. Normally, the main valve is near the gas meter. You will need a crescent wrench or 12 to 15-inch adjustable pipe wrench to turn it off. You may be able to just shut off the gas at your appliances in some cases.
  • Find the main power switch for electricity to your home, and learn how to shut it off.
  • Learn how to open your garage door manually in the event the electricity is off by grasping the rope hanging down and pulling it back toward the door, which will disconnect it from the trolley. The door must be in the down position, or it is too dangerous to open since it can crash.


Following a disaster, there are certain steps to take that can be helpful, including:

  • Check that everyone is safe, including your pets. Call 911 if a family member is missing but was on the property before.
  • Attend to injuries.
  • If your home is still standing, secure any damage temporarily, or stay out of a damaged part of the house.
  • Move valuable items and take photos for your insurance company.
  • If you have to take other shelter, such as moving into a motel, keep all of your receipts.
  • If you need to, many places such as churches set up community shelters after a disaster, and these are free of cost.

Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento personal injury lawyer. The importance of being prepared for a disaster cannot be stressed enough. However, if negligence was the cause of your injury, you have the right to claim fair compensation. Phone me at (916) 921-6400 or toll-free at (800) 404-5400 for my free and friendly advice. An online contact form is available too.

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I’ve practiced as an injury lawyer since 1982, obtaining compensation for many types of traffic accidents, traumas such as brain injuries and wrongful deaths.

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