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9/16/2013 - Responding with swiftness when emergencies occur

Homeowners need to ensure they’re prepared in the event of an emergency.

The importance of readiness never takes a holiday, but emergency preparation is an issue that's given special attention this month. Throughout the country, employers and consumers recognize September as Emergency Preparedness Month.

"Just like no coach would bring a team onto a field without a game plan, every family needs a game plan for emergencies," said Russ Paulsen, executive director of community preparedness for the Red Cross. "When disaster strikes, it's too late."

In addition to the Red Cross, other health and safety organizations sponsor Emergency Preparedness Month, including the National Safety Council, Federal Emergency Management Agency and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Getting one's family or workforce primed for unexpected or unforeseen circumstances can be accomplished through four steps.

1. Develop an Emergency Kit. FEMA offers a more exhaustive list, but a basic kit should include water, food, medical supplies and canned goods.

2. Stay Informed. There are generally multiple ways of staying abreast of the latest events that may be happening nationally or within a community. When there's an emergency, radio, websites, newspapers and cellphones can keep families apprised of what's taking place.

3. Make a Plan. If loved ones get separated, it's important to have a meeting place. Planning out these scenarios further prepares families during urgent situations.

4. Get Involved. Even in other months besides September, there are classes, workshops and seminars that take place within the community. These may include how to perform CPR, the first steps to take when a fire occurs in the home or what to do after someone's been grievously injured. Taking advantage of these courses can provide individuals with the tools they need to rectify issues that demand immediate attention.

A key package that supplies families with the resources they need to recover after an emergency is homeowner's insurance. Policyholders are urged to review their plans so that they can rest assured they'll have the financial backing they need to rebound quickly.

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