Community preparedness is a crucial part of protecting yourself, your loved ones and your neighbors during emergencies and disasters. Being neighborly, being informed and being involved can make all the difference.

If you haven’t already done so, get to know your neighbors and understand what type of assistance they may need during a disaster. People without transportation, families with small children, the elderly and other at-risk groups may need extra help. First responders do an amazing job of protecting the lives and safety of our citizens, but during a major response, they might need extra assistance. This is why FEMA has developed its “Neighbors Helping Neighbors” approach to preparedness.

Along with getting to know your neighbors, it is vital to be informed and understand the hazards that could most likely affect your area. Severe weather, power outages and disease outbreaks can impact all Arizonans. Other residents may be especially at risk from wildfire, flooding or other hazards. You can view a comprehensive list of hazards on FEMA’s Be Informed website. Take some time to review this list with friends or family, and talk about the proactive steps you can take during different types of emergencies and disasters.

The most important step you can take is to be involved. There is a wide variety of things you can do, from donating blood to volunteering with a Citizen Emergency Response Team (CERT). First, find out what your community is already doing. You can start by asking your neighbors or finding a CERT or Citizen Corps council near you. Connecting with a community organization will give you access to education, training and volunteer service opportunities.

By working together, we can build safer, stronger and more resilient communities across our state.