Being prepared for an emergency

September is National Preparedness Month, a reminder that everyone must take steps to prepare for any type of emergency that can affect us. It guides us to take another step, big or small, from simply existing in an environment of planned activities, events, and to-dos, to proactively preparing to survive and thrive during and after an unplanned emergency. The Somerset County Health Department recommends these steps:

 
• Complete a family communication plan. Plan how you will assemble your family, loved ones and pets, and anticipate where you will go for different situations. Get together with them and agree on the ways to contact one another in an emergency, identify meeting locations, and make a Family Emergency Communication Plan.

 
• Form a support network (talk to your neighbors). Make a plan to check on each other before and after a disaster occurs. Talk about any physical limitations or special medical needs you may have during an emergency. During an emergency it is usually the people in closest proximity that are first to offer aid.

 
• Assemble an Emergency Preparedness Kit. Go to ready.gov for a checklist of items for you and your pets. Pack a “go bag” to evacuate quickly, and have supplies in the home in case water and power are unavailable.

 
• Collect important documents and keep them in a safe place. This will help you evacuate without delay and get back on track after the disaster passes.

 
• Check your insurance coverage. Many states have increased deductibles for hurricanes and not all hurricane-related losses are covered under traditional policies. Most homeowner’s insurance policies do not cover damage or losses from flooding. Review your policy, ensure you’re adequately covered, understand any exclusions, and contact your agent for any changes. Renter’s insurance policies are also available and should be considered as a way of protecting your belongings.

 
• Stay Informed. Download the FEMA app. This free app includes disaster resources, weather alerts, safety tips, and more.

 
• Sign up for local alerts from Somerset Emergency Management. Go to Somerset911.org click on ‘links’ and look for “Cell phone Self Registration Portal”. Follow the prompts to receive emergency alerts.

 
• Heed the warnings. If a hurricane or flood threatens and local officials say it’s time to evacuate, don’t hesitate — go early. A flood WATCH means flooding or flash flooding is possible in your area. A flood WARNING means flooding or flash flooding is already occurring or will occur soon in your area.

 
You cannot control when a disaster will strike, but you can be prepared where you live, work, and play. Each disaster is different. Know the hazards in your area, create a family plan, gather supplies, and do all you can today to make sure you are prepared for tomorrow. Go to ready.gov/prepare or somersethealth.org for more information.

 
— Sharon Lynch, director of Health Planning, Coordination and Prevention, is also the public information officer at the Somerset County Health Department.

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