September is National Preparedness Month in the U.S., something I’ve never been aware of before, but here in Ohio our state emergency management agency and our governor are promoting it as the perfect opportunity for individuals, organizations and companies to take steps to ensure we’re better prepared for any disaster that might impact homes, jobs, schools and communities.
The timing is pretty spot on, I have to say. With a series of storms rolling across the U.S. and Canada, bringing rounds of showers, thunderstorms and severe weather in their wake, and Hurricane Dorian gustily eyeing the Atlantic coast, it seems only appropriate to consider how disastrous weather might impact one’s life and take steps to prepare for it.
According to Sima Merick, Executive Director of the Ohio Emergency Management Agency, if you know what to do in the event of and are prepared for emergencies or disasters, you’re far less likely to be scared and more likely to act self-sufficiently. Here are some of her tips for achieving that state:
Organize disaster supply kits of household items you might need in the event of an emergency for your home and vehicles. Most items in a basic kit are inexpensive and easy to find, and you might already have a lot of the items in your home. After a disaster happens, you might need to survive on your own for several days so your disaster kits should have enough food, water, and other essential items to sustain everyone in your home (including pets) for at least three days.
Take time to learn life-saving skills – actions you can take to prepare for and protect against disasters and severe weather events. Install smoke, carbon monoxide and natural gas detectors, and test them monthly. Know how to turn off utilities like water and gas. Talk to your landlord or building manager about evacuation routes and fire safety. Know two ways out of your home in case of a fire and practice evacuation plans.
Consider the costs associated with disasters and think about saving money in an emergency savings account that could be used in any crisis. Keep a small amount of cash at home in a safe place because ATMs and credit cards may not work after a disaster when you might need to purchase necessary supplies, fuel or food.
Check your insurance policies and coverage for the hazards that might impact your home, such as flooding, tornadoes or home fires.
I’m going to add one more item to the list, just for UCT members – don’t forget the UCT Disaster Relief Benefit is here for you if things get tough. This benefit provides a onetime per occurrence, per member, financial benefit from the UCT home office to help our members who experience a disaster like a hurricane, flood, tornado or fire. It’s designed to help cover the costs of food, clothing, shelter or other necessities in times of personal emergencies and could make all the difference if unexpected severe weather turns life upside down.
Members should contact Anita Neal at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 800.848.0123 x1100 to request assistance within 72 hours of the disaster, so make sure to keep Anita’s contact info handy. Additional help might also be available from the member’s local council, and the local secretary can verify this.
While we can’t cover all the costs associated with a disaster, we can certainly help take some of the sting out of it. UCT is always here to help our members, and that’s something you can count on – and prepare for.