As 2020 has shown, emergencies and disasters can strike when we least expect. Recent local, national, and international events illustrate the need to be prepared for both known and unexpected threats. In an effort to better prepare individuals, families, and communities, state and federal governments have designated September as National Preparedness Month

This is a great time to take simple steps to be ready for all types of emergencies and disasters.

This year, the Federal Emergency Management Agency is focusing on four themes to guide individuals and families in improving their overall readiness. This week’s theme is “Make a Plan.”

Making a plan includes four key steps:

    1. Discuss key questions with your family, friends, and household members. These can include things like how you will receive emergency warnings, what your evacuation routes and shelter plans are, how you will communicate with family and household members, and whether your emergency preparedness kit is stocked. Of course, this year your planning should also incorporate COVID-19 prevention, like making sure you have masks for all household members in your emergency kit. 
    2. Consider specific needs in your household. Make sure you think about the ages of your household members, and medical conditions or special dietary needs, pets or service animals, cultural or religious considerations, and any necessary accessibility devices or equipment. 
    3. Fill out your emergency plan. Once you’ve completed steps one and two, you’re ready to write down your plan or update an existing plan. You can find a template here.
    4. Practice your plan with family, friends, and members of your household. Before you need to put your plan in action, it’s a good idea to make sure your family is familiar with the plan.  

Another thing to remember is that multiple disasters can happen at the same time. In addition to COVID-19 circulating in Arizona, this is the time of year we also experience wildfires, extreme heat, and monsoon storms. Due to COVID-19, special precautions must be taken to ensure individuals and communities stay healthy while addressing impacts related to additional disasters. To prevent transmission, rather than setting up congregate shelters in areas affected by wildfires, our partners are looking for innovative ways to allow Arizonans affected by the fires to temporarily shelter while remaining physically distanced from others outside of their household.  

If they don’t already know, be sure to tell your friends, co-workers, extended family, and others about National Preparedness Month. Encourage them to take steps toward building their own preparedness plans. By working together, we can build communities that are more resilient and protect the health and well-being of all Arizonans.