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September is Preparedness Month: Are You Ready?

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National Preparedness Month serves as a reminder that all Oregonians must prepare themselves and their families year-round for possible disasters.

Individually, all of us can get ready by learning lifesaving skills, such as CPR and first aid. Residents can verify if their insurance policies offer coverage for hazards from wildfires, floods, and earthquakes. Around our homes, we can take simple steps like learning how to safely shut off water and gas, for ourselves and our neighbors. Important documents and emergency finances can also be prepared in advance.

Most residents can take simple steps to be better prepared for any emergency.

1. Make a plan. Emergencies happen when those are the least prepared and at the most inconvenient times. Consider events that may happen that could keep you from leaving work and/or arriving home: a winter pile up on the freeway, a bridge collapse, wildfires, power outages, hazardous materials incidents, earthquakes, and flooding are disasters that may happen in our state.

2. Purchase a case or two of water and stash it under your desk and/or in your vehicle. Having bottled water on hand at work and at home at all times can be helpful at any time of year. Have a minimum of one gallon per person per day for at least two weeks.

3. Have at least enough food in your vehicle or workplace for at least three days, although it is a preferable practice to instead be prepared for a minimum of two weeks.

4. Put a pair of tennis shoes and a change or two of clothing in your vehicle. You never know when your vehicle may break down and the need to walk for help arises or just in case you are stranded at work and are not able to get yourself home.

5. A first-aid kit is very important to have in case you and/or a coworker have minor injuries and local fire or emergency services are not able to get to your location in a timely manner. This could be helpful for a multitude of reasons — and not only in case of emergency.

If and when the Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake occurs, our region will face major damage to our infrastructure. Emergency responders will need to prioritize the damages and injuries and focus on the more life-threatening issues. If people are prepared, it will save time and resources for those first responders who are trying to get to those in dire need.

To help Oregonians prepare, the Oregon Office of Emergency Management has created the Two Weeks Ready campaign. There is no one right way to assemble two weeks’ worth of supplies, given individual dietary and medical needs. If your family includes children, seniors, or pets, you will have additional needs. You may already have many Two Weeks Ready items around the house. Many of the standard preparedness kit items such as flashlights, gloves, hand-crank radios, trash bags, and a first-aid kit are already in your 72-hour kit.

Below are a few websites and agencies that can help you in your preparedness activities: