September is National Preparedness Month
National Preparedness Month is recognized each September with the purpose of promoting family and community disaster planning. It is the perfect opportunity for Hoosiers to learn lifesaving skills, how to check insurance policies for common hazards and how to make and practice household emergency plans. Tornadoes, fires, snow and severe flooding are common occurrences to Hoosiers. Knowing how to stay prepared for these types of situations will not only minimize the effects, but also save lives. This year, learn the importance of creating a family emergency communications plan, assembling a disaster preparedness kit and identifying the different types of disasters that can happen locally.
Disasters can strike at any time, so during National Preparedness Month, IDHS encourages all Hoosiers to create or revisit their emergency planning and preparedness plans. You should:
- Make a plan.
- Build a disaster kit.
- Know what to do in different types of common disasters or hazardous situations.
Preparation for Older Adults
Older adults may have particular needs or challenges in emergencies. Follow these steps to tailor your emergency planning efforts as an older adult:
- Plan how you will communicate with other people if you need help.
- Determine your food, water and other essential item needs. Remember to plan for your pet or service animal's needs too.
- Make sure you have transportation options in place in case you would need to be evacuated. Keep in mind how your assistive devices, like a wheelchair or walker, will be included.
- Build a disaster kit that includes items such as your medicines, medical supplies and equipment, chargers and batteries.
- Make copies of important documents you may need, including Medicaid, Medicare and other insurance cards.
Older adults with disabilities may need special assistance and should take these steps too:
- Create a network of people who can help you during emergencies. This may include family, friends and others who know you. Be sure everyone has an understanding of your needs and practices what they would need to do in a real-life emergency.
- Give an extra key to your home to at least one person in your support network. Also make sure at least one person knows where your emergency supplies are located and how to use medical equipment or administer medicine to you.
- Ask your medical provider, such as your doctor or hospital, what its emergency plans are and what you should do if they are unable to provide you the treatment you regularly receive from them. This may include knowing different medical providers that can treat you.
- Remember to plan for your pets or service animal. Many emergency shelters will not accept pets. Look for alternative locations, including people you know who live outside your immediate area.
- Do you depend on physical mail service to access Social Security or other regular benefits? Disasters can disrupt the postal service for days or weeks, so consider switching to electronic payments. The U.S. Department of the Treasury recommends the following:
- Set up direct deposit to a checking or savings account. If you receive federal benefits, sign up by calling 800-333-1795 or setting it up online.
- Use a Direct Express prepaid debit card instead of paper.
Make a Plan
Making a plan for you and your household is very important. It will keep everyone on the same page and allow everyone to be as safe as possible. Important things to consider include how to communicate, where to shelter and how to evacuate.
For more details, including step-by-step planning information and downloadable forms, visit the Make a Plan page.
- Choose a location for household members to meet if separated during a disaster.
- Learn how to shelter in place and other types of sheltering methods.
- Develop a plan for when you must evacuate.
- Meet with your family and work on the plans together.
- Remember to plan for pets too.
Build a Disaster Kit
All emergencies disrupt your daily routine. But some may make it difficult or impossible for you to return to normal quickly. In these situations, which may affect large numbers of people besides you, you may need to be as self-sufficient as possible to take care of yourself and your household. Having a disaster kit (or multiple sets of kits) ready to go could make all the difference in how well you weather a crisis.
As you assemble items for your kit, keep in mind that your primary goal is basic health and survival. Also, in some cases it may take emergency personnel several days before they can help you.
IDHS recommends you create disaster kits that are designed for at least three days. Each kit should include basic items like water, food, a flashlight, a battery-powered radio and a first aid kit.
For a more detailed list of items for disaster kits, visit the Disaster Kits page.
- Non-perishable food
- First aid kit
- Battery-powered or hand-crank radio
- Local maps (in case of evacuation)
- Extra clothing
Prepare for Specific Situations
Indiana can experience a wide variety of disasters, both natural and man-made. Research the different disaster risks that can impact your area, or that you could find yourself facing. Thinking ahead about these situations will help you be ready to act, and in some cases may help you decide which insurance coverages to purchase.