September is National Preparedness Month. As we turn our attention to response and support for the victims of Hurricane Harvey, and prepare for Hurricane Irma, it is also a good time to create or review your own emergency preparedness plan and to consider registering as a disaster response volunteer.

Here’s how to get started:

  1. 1.Register now to volunteer laterUnited Way-Thomas Jefferson Area works with Charlottesville area first responders and other emergency services organizations to establish emergency volunteer centers when disaster strikes. Sign up today to serve as a disaster response volunteer (no experience necessary, but welcome—all skill levels needed). Advance registration helps United Way with disaster preparedness planning and during an actual emergency.
  1. 2.Form your own emergency preparedness plan. Some tips:
    1. oMake a communications plan. Know where to meet and how to communicate with family and friends. Create a list of emergency contacts. Select a person who doesn’t live near you for family members to check in with. Have a back-up power source charged and ready to power your cell phone.
    2. oPrepare to evacuate your home. Review and practice escape routes. Plan to evacuate the region. Where to go? How to travel? Have cash – ATMs may not work. Don’t forget vitalAnd, how will you secure your home from flying debris, power outages and the like?
    3. oGet your vehicle ready. Keep a full tank of gas if an evacuation seems likely – gas pumps may not work just when you need to get out of town. Leave early. Follow evacuation routes.
    4. oCreate an emergency supply kit. Include enough provisions for at least three days. Include food, water, battery radio, flashlight, batteries, first aid, cell phone cables and chargers, andHave an emergency kit at home, work and in your car.
    5. oConsider special needs. Know your child’s school or day care emergency plan and contact information. Don’t forget to pack books, games and activities for kids. Have you thought of pets? Medications? Elders and the disabled? Pack extra clothes and blankets for people you may be transporting.
  1. 3.You’ll find more ideas for being prepared here.

Don’t let the unpleasant thought of an emergency deter you from making a plan to protect your family and yourself, and to serve others in need. Follow the basic steps above and you’ll sleep easier knowing you are ready.  And mark your calendar for next September, to review and update your emergency preparedness plans each year.

National Preparedness Month