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September is National Disaster Preparedness Month

PHOTO: Disaster can strike at any time. AARP-Wisconsin has teamed up with FEMA to provide tips on putting together a personal emergency disaster preparedness kit. Photo credit: Jeremy Lock, U.S. Air Force
PHOTO: Disaster can strike at any time. AARP-Wisconsin has teamed up with FEMA to provide tips on putting together a personal emergency disaster preparedness kit. Photo credit: Jeremy Lock, U.S. Air Force
September 3, 2014

MADISON, Wis. - AARP is teaming up with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to try to make sure people are as ready as they can be if disaster strikes.

September is National Disaster Preparedness Month. Seconds count in a disaster, and having a plan to deal with disaster is a task which should be a high priority, said Sam Wilson, state director of AARP-Wisconsin.

"To encourage people to build a kit, make a plan, and to be informed about the types of emergencies or disasters that can occur in their area," he said, "so that if something does by chance strike in their area, they have the peace of mind that they are prepared for that."

A basic emergency disaster supply kit consists of plenty of water and nonperishable food, a first aid kit, flashlights, extra batteries and garbage bags with ties for personal sanitation. Wilson said there are other elements of a disaster plan that people sometimes don't think of.

"Copies of insurance, titles, bank accounts, medical providers - and store all of those things in a waterproof or fireproof box as well, because if you have some insurance needs, you need to contact your agent after a disaster," he said. "Maybe you have some health concerns that need to be addressed, you want to be able to access those documents and you want them to be in a presentable shape."

Wilson also encouraged people to have a list of emergency contacts, evacuation routes, and to plan a meeting place in case the family is separated during a disaster. Tips on building an emergency kit and making a disaster plan are online at aarp.org/wi.

Wilson said we prepare for so many things in our lives - school, work, having a family - and planning for disaster is just as important.

"Sometimes it's the last thing that we think to do, so we're really emphasizing for September, in our partnership with FEMA, to put preparing first in your priorities," he said. "Make your communications plan, get your emergency preparedness kit ready, get those important papers put up in a safe place, so that if disaster happens, you're ready."

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI