(Written by Vivian Marinelli, Psy.D., FEI Senior Director Crisis Management Services)

April 30 has been identified as America’s PrepareAthon National Day of Action. With the current severe weather occurring in Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma—along with numerous other states—hopefully you have reviewed your emergency response planning. If not, America’s PrepareAthon provides the perfect opportunity to jump into action and ensure you, your community and your family and friends are prepared to respond.

FEMA has reported that despite the natural disasters that have occurred over recent years, nearly 60 percent of Americans surveyed did not participate in a preparedness drill at their workplace, school or home in the past year. Even for those who have practiced responding to severe weather, it is very likely you and your family members will not be in the same place when a storm occurs. How can you be sure everyone is safe?

Creating Your Plan

America’s PrepareAthon campaign is encouraging everyone to complete at least one simple preparedness action:

  1. Sign up for local text alerts and warnings, and download weather apps to your smartphone. This will help you to be aware of worsening weather conditions. Also, identify severe weather safe spots at home, work and school.
  2. Create an emergency supply kit. You can find documents to assist with your kit planning online.
  3. Develop an emergency communication plan for your family. The plan should include a way for everyone to reach each other and reassemble if separated. Identify several assembly points in case one is inaccessible and include an out-of-town contact in case local numbers are unavailable.
  4. For companies, being able to account for employees and their status in an emergency can have a great impact on operations. Access to an external emergency call center can provide this resource if and when community infrastructure has been impacted by storms.
  5. Gather important documents and keep them in a safe place. These should include any personal or medical documents that might be critical during an emergency. Similarly, taking photos of your home and its contents can be useful if the storm damages your property.
  6. Make sure pets have their tags and vaccinations up-to-date. You may become separated from your pets during severe weather, and having a means of identification will be the most helpful when recovering them. If you need to stay at a shelter following a storm, a vaccination tag can mean the difference between pets being allowed into the shelter or not.

These are just a few ideas to increase your safety during a storm! I encourage everyone to take the first step and join in America’s PrepareAthon National Day of Action, or simply identify one step in your emergency response plan to focus on in order to prepare, respond and recover from any severe storm that may come your way.