September is not only the time when many children return to school, it is also National Preparedness Month.
National Preparedness Month is part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's efforts to encourage Americans to prepare for any emergency or natural disaster.
Residents in the Lehigh Valley experienced first hand in 2011 how disasters can strike at anytime.
Many residents and workers in the Valley were sent out into yards and parking lots at 1:50 p.m. Aug. 23, 2011, when tremors from a 5.8 magnitude earthquake in Mineral, Va. shook homes and office buildings.
Then five days later, on Aug. 28, the Valley was hit with Hurricane Irene, which uprooted trees, flooded roads and knocked down power lines.
On Sept. 8, of that same year, Tropical Storm Lee blew across the Valley, damaging buildings and flooding rivers and streams already overflowing from Hurricane Irene.
If an earthquake, hurricane and tropical storm were not enough, on Oct. 28, Lehigh Valley residents experienced another blow when a Nor'easter dropped several inches of snow causing numerous power outages, forcing many residents to seek shelter in hotels or with family and friends.
Are you prepared if a natural or man-made disaster should strike?
FEMA suggests the following items be included in a basic disaster kit:
· One gallon of water for drinking and sanitation per person, per day for at least three days;
· At least a three-day supply of non-perishable food and a manual can opener;
· Battery-powered or hand-crank radio and a NOAA weather radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both;
· Flashlight and extra batteries;
· First aid kit;
· Whistle to signal for help;
·Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation;
·Local maps; and
·Cell phone with charger.
Having been raised in Florida and having survived several hurricanes, here are some things I have learned over the years:
·Have bags of ice and a couple of coolers on hand for perishable food if the electricity goes out;
·Have a battery-operated clock with fresh batteries;
·Have activities and toys for children to keep them occupied;
·Bring pets inside and have extra food, water and medications on hand for them, too;
·Should you need to evacuate, have a bag with extra clothing, shoes, medications, cash, important documents, such as insurance cards, birth certificate, driver's license, Social Security card and medical records for yourself and loved ones. Also, have carriers for pets ready to go; and
·Check on the elderly who live alone;
·Most important, stay informed by listening to a radio or television.
We can all learn from the disasters of 2011.
Having more information and being prepared, means the less likely you or your loved ones will panic during an emergency or disaster.
To learn more information about how to be prepared visit fema.gov, ready.gov or attend the upcoming Upper Macungie and South and North Whitehall townships Emergency Preparedness Day Sept. 21 at St. Luke's West End Medical Center, 501 Cetronia Road, in South Whitehall Township.