National Preparedness Month: Week One

Week 1: Make and Practice Your Plan

The first week of National Preparedness Month focuses on creating a plan for you and your family to remain safe during a disaster. This includes making an emergency plan, signing up for alerts and warnings in your area, and creating an evacuation plan.

First, determine which types of disasters could affect your area. West Virginia commonly experiences floods, landslides and house fires.

Start to put a plan together by discussing these 4 questions with your family, friends or household;

  1. How will I receive emergency alerts and warnings?

There are several different types of alerts and warnings that you can receive, including the Emergency Alert System that goes out through television and radio. Various organizations also have their own alerts and warnings systems that are publicly available, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) which has a free downloadable app for smartphones, and the National Weather Service has forecasts and alerts for hazardous weather conditions that can be accessed online here. Local news stations will often have weather alerts that are free to sign up for as well.

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  1. What is my shelter plan?

Creating a shelter plan is important, as disasters often require you to seek protection in your home, workplace or other locations, possibly even outside of your home at a relative’s, friend’s, hotel or a public shelter.

Compile an emergency kit and keep it in your home and car to help avoid the stress of getting supplies last minute. There are different resources for creating an emergency kit but essentially they all have the same list of needed supplies.

ReadyWV!, West Virginia’s disaster preparedness site, has great information on preparing your home for a disaster, including guidelines on food, water, and other important necessary information.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention also has instructions on creating an emergency supply kit., as well as having a list for the needed supplies, contains information about maintaining your kit and where to store it.

More information on managing food and water supplies can be found on

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  1. What is my evacuation route?

What is the best way to leave your home in case of emergency? Is there a way to access the designated state evacuation routes if you have to leave the area? These are things to think about when you start to plan for disasters. Try and create multiple escape routes from your home if you can, as well as learn the hazards that could affect the roadways around your home. Is there a stretch of road that always has water laying on it when it rains? That might not be the best way to go if you have to leave during a flash flood.

Even the best plans can go wrong, so be prepared but also allow for flexibility and be ready to adapt to the situation as it happens. Always follow the instructions of local officials and remember that your evacuation route may be on foot, depending on the type of disaster.

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  1. What is my family/household communication plan?

It is important to be able to stay in touch with your family and household during a disaster, especially as a disaster could occur during the work day or school.

If you have a household member that is deaf, hard of hearing or has a speech disability and uses traditional or video relay service, include information on how to connect through relay services on a landline or mobile phone, or computer.

Usually, schools and work places have emergency response plans in place in case of a disaster, so it is a good idea to become familiar with those plans and discuss them with your children, in the case of them being at school. Select a few people who could pick your children up in an emergency.

Make sure all of the collected phone numbers and designated meeting places are shared with all members of your household, and that each member carries a copy of them in their wallets, purses, backpacks, etc. Post a central copy in your home where it is easily seen. You can also enter the phone numbers into mobile phones or devices.

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