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September 19, 2013

OUR VIEW: Now is the time to prepare for disaster

September is designated as National Preparedness Month. We’re more than halfway through the month. Are you more prepared for a natural disaster now than you were when the month started?

If your answer is no, you still have time to make a plan.

It’s not hard. It’s not expensive. It is, however, like going to the gym. You dread going and complain the whole time you’re there, but you feel better when you’re done.

Same goes for putting together an emergency plan. It’s a pain to do and it seems pointless, but you’ll feel better once it’s done because you’ll know your family is better prepared to survive a catastrophe. When disaster does strike, there is much that’s out of our control. Being prepared puts more things under your control and increases your chances of survival.

The Indiana Department of Homeland Security suggests residents prepare themselves by adopting a goal of being self-reliant for three days. A winter storm, tornado or flood can cut you off from grocery stores and services, including immediate response from police or fire protection. Officials encourage residents to collect enough supplies to get them through three days.

So, how do you do prepare for three days on your own? Make a plan. Get a kit.

Work with family and neighbors to make an emergency plan — such as where to go, how and where to meet and what to do in case of an emergency. Go to ready.gov/make-a-plan for free downloadable emergency plan templates.

Preparedness kits are not a one-size-fits-all situation. Kits should include the essentials that fit the household’s needs and budget. Don’t know where to start? Visit ready.gov/build-a-kit.

If you’re worried about costs, think ahead and try to accumulate extra items over time by using coupons and hitting sales. Wait to buy supplies at the end of a season when there are good deals. Don’t wait for the storm to hit the news before hitting the store. You’ll pay a fortune later.

The No. 1 thing you can do to protect yourself is to start now. Even if it’s just one simple thing, do it now. Taking the first step is always the hardest, but it’s also the one that gets you moving toward your goal.

And keeping you and your family safe seems like a pretty good goal.

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