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Disasters don’t wait. Make your plan today.

National Preparedness Month is recognized each September to promote family and community disaster planning now and throughout the year.

As our nation continues to respond to COVID-19, and the anniversary of the Almeda fire approaches, there is no better time to get your household ready than this September, and it’s not too late to get started.

The 2021 theme is “Prepare to protect. Preparing for disasters is protecting everyone you love.” You can explore many resources at www.ready.gov/september

If you’ve struggled with how to start preparing, FEMA has it all laid out for you… just follow the weeks and get done what you can. Any progress is still progress.

Week 1, Sept. 1-4: Make a plan

Talk to your friends and family about how you will communicate before, during and after a disaster. Make sure to update your plan based on the Centers for Disease Control recommendations due to the coronavirus.

Week 2, Sept. 5-11: Build a kit

Gather supplies that will last for several days after a disaster for everyone living in your home. Don’t forget to consider the unique needs each person or pet may have in case you have to evacuate quickly. Update your kits and supplies based on recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control.

Week 3, Sept. 12-18: Low-cost, no-cost preparedness

Limit the impacts that disasters have on you and your family. Know the risk of disasters in your area. Learn how to make your home stronger in the face of storms and other common hazards. Check your insurance coverage to make sure it is up to date.

Week 4, Sept. 19-25: Teach youth about preparedness

Talk to your kids about preparing for emergencies and what to do in case you are separated. Reassure them by providing information about how they can get involved and give them an easy task to complete.

The COVID-19 pandemic and wildfires have brought emergency planning and response to the forefront of public consciousness. One thing COVID-19 has taught us is that disasters and emergencies do not wait for a convenient time to happen.

As Americans continue to be affected by the pandemic, they may not be thinking about natural disaster preparedness or even know how best to prepare during this unprecedented time. National Preparedness Month is an opportunity to highlight how to prepare for disasters that could happen at any time.

Preparedness starts with everyone knowing their risks so they can take appropriate actions before, during and after a disaster.

Visit www.ready.gov for helpful tips and details on how to be prepared during National Preparedness Month and stay ready all year. You can also find local resources via these websites: www.ashland.or.us/air, www.fireadaptedashland.org, www.smokewiseashland.org, www.ashland.or.us/evacuate