September is the national month for preparedness

By David Hotle, The JOURNAL


We can be afraid, or we can be ready.

After the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, a push was made to ensure Americans could be prepared in case of another attack. That push is continuing to this day, as September is National Preparedness Month. Washington County Emergency Management Coordinator Marissa Reisen says the key to preparedness is small steps taken over time. She says one of the big pushes from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is to build a culture of preparedness in the United States.

?In the last few years there have been a lot of disasters,? she said. ?FEMA had been maxed out on a lot of the disasters. They really want, on the local level, individuals and communities to be more prepared so they don?t have as much of a role in response and recovery and you don?t have as much to do for response and recovery because you have taken those actions.?

Each of the four weeks in September has a different theme that leads to a basic level of preparedness. Reisen said many things people can think about to increase the security of their household are on social media with FEMA or for people to consider.

The first week of September is ?make and practice your plan? week. Reisen explained the government agencies have templates to help people decide what their needs will be in an emergency. She said the top question is what threats face the people in the Midwest. Reisen said common threats include tornadoes, flooding, straight-line winds, and winter events. She said people should make plans for those kind of things.

?The thought process for making and practicing your plan is that it doesn?t have to be a difficult process,? Reisen said. ?It is a conversation you can have at the dinner table. All it takes is little steps to be prepared.?

?Learn lifesaving skills? makes up the second week. Reisen said people can learn such things as CPR and stopping bleeding. She said anyone interested in learning more about first aid can call her office and she will find a class for them.

The third week involves ?checking your insurance coverage.? Reisen said people should take the opportunity to find out exactly what their insurance covers. She said an article on the Washington County Emergency management Agency Facebook page deals with doing a damage assessment after a storm for insurance companies.

The fourth week encourages people to ?save for an emergency.? She said people should put aside some money for an emergency fund.

?It is always good to have cash on hand,? she said. ?My recommendation is for it to be in small bills.?

Reisen said her agency would be preparing throughout the month, including hosting a training for emergency responders regarding rail car emergencies.