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September is National Preparedness Month

In September, you may be preparing to harvest the last crops from your garden or to endure the cascade of holidays looming just ahead. However, September is also the time of year that you should be preparing for another type of possibility: An emergency. In 2004, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) declared September to be National Preparedness Month. 

During September each year, FEMA encourages families to take a moment to consider and create an action plan for the various emergencies that could occur within their homes, businesses, or communities. 

Here’s what you need to know about preparedness during the month of September, including the items that you need in safety preparedness kits and specific weather-related safety tips. 

What Types of Emergencies Should You Plan for? 

The first step in preparing for an emergency is predicting the type of emergency you’re most likely to face. Every family should be prepared for emergencies like fires that can occur within the home environment. Families that own a car should make sure to prepare for car-related emergencies or other events that may occur while on the road. 

Depending on where you live, you should also consider what type of weather emergencies you could face throughout the year. In the northern latitudes, it’s important to prepare for extreme winter weather events such as blizzards. In the middle of the country, tornados and severe flooding may be your family’s primary threat. On the coasts, hurricanes or earthquakes may pose a safety risk. 

After identifying the types of emergencies you’re most likely to face, it’s time to start planning. 

Preparing Your Family for Fire Safety 

When it comes to fire safety, your preparation in September can serve you all year long. According to the American Red Cross, the following tips can help you prepare your home when it comes to fire safety: 

  • Install smoke alarms on every floor of your home, inside and outside of sleeping areas. Test these once a month and replace the batteries once a year.
  • Make sure to teach your children what a smoke alarm sounds like and what to do if they hear one.
  • Make sure that everyone in the household knows two ways to escape out of every room in the house and establish a family meeting point outside the home.
  • Create a family emergency protocol to make sure family members know what to do if they can’t find one another.
  • Do a practice fire drill at least twice a year by pressing the smoke alarm test button to alert everyone to leave the house.
  • Make sure that everyone in the household knows how to call 9-1-1.

It’s also critical to make sure that everyone knows how to “stop, drop, and roll” if their clothing catches on fire and to stay low to the ground if they see smoke. Having fire extinguishers stored around your house can also help you stay prepared. 

Preparing your family for car safety 

To prepare for car safety, it’s important to make sure that you’re staying up to date with your car’s maintenance schedule. A periodic oil change and inspection can help make sure that you don’t have a preventable car-related emergency. 

When preparing for a long trip, make sure that you have maps and backup plans in case of bad weather. According to Ready.Gov, an emergency kit for your car should have general emergency supplies (such as water and food for several days, a flashlight, and a first aid kit) as well as the following: 

  • Jumper cables
  • Reflective devices or flares
  • An ice scraper
  • A cell phone charger
  • Blanket
  • Map
  • Sand or cat litter (to help with tire traction)

Additionally, it’s important to have good tires on your car and to keep the fuel tank full. If you live in cold climates, this is a must to ensure that the fuel line doesn’t freeze. 


Preparing Your Family for Hurricane Safety and Flood Safety 

When you’re preparing for a hurricane, tropical storm, or severe thunderstorm, it’s imperative to know that it’s not just wind and lightning that pose a threat to your safety. Instead, it is often the flooding that occurs after a storm that can be the most dangerous aspect. 

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are several things that you can do to prepare for extreme storms: 

  • Plan ahead by keeping emergency numbers in an obvious place in your house and stored in your phone.
  • Research the nearest shelter and know the different routes that you can take to get there in the event of flooding.
  • Prepare an emergency supply kit and stock up if bad weather is anticipated. A supply kit should include food and water for several days, emergency power sources (like flashlights with extra batteries), important documents (like passports, IDs, and medical information), and a fire extinguisher.

It’s also important to learn the fundamentals of staying safe during the flooding that occurs after a storm. This includes turning your power off if power lines are in flood water, unplugging appliances, and never driving through flooded areas. 

Preparing Your Family for Tornado Safety 

If you live in an area that’s vulnerable to tornados, being educated about tornados is paramount. Make sure you understand your community’s emergency alert system and the warning signs of when a tornado may be approaching. 

Knowing ahead of time where you will shelter (such as inside a basement or inner room without windows) can help you stay calm. Having an emergency kit prepared ahead of time can also make sure you’re not caught off guard. 

How to Learn More About National Preparedness Month 

Recognizing each September as a critical time to do a home safety audit can serve you well in the future. To learn more about how to prepare to protect yourself and the ones you love against emergency events, visit FEMA’s National Preparedness Month website. 

Research and materials for this article were compiled, written, and distributed on behalf of the National Public Health Information Coalition. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the various authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the National Public Health Information Coalition or its members. 


[1] National Preparedness Month. https://dem.nv.gov/Resources/National_Preparedness_Month/ 

[2] Seven ways to prepare for a home fire. https://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/fire/home-fire-preparedness.html 

[3] Car Safety. https://www.ready.gov/car 

[4] Preparing for a Hurricane or Other Tropical Storm. https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/hurricanes/before.html 

[5] Staying Safe in a Tornado. https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/features/tornadosafety/index.html#:~:text=Go%20to%20the%20basement%20or,blanket%2C%20sleeping%20bag%20or%20mattress. 

[6] Protect the Life You’ve Built, Get Started as National Preparedness Month Kicks Off Tomorrow. https://www.fema.gov/preass-release/20220831/protect-life-youve-built-get-started-national-preparedness-month-kicks#:~:text=FEMA%20in%20Action-,Protect%20the%20Life%20You've%20Built%2C%20Get%20Started%20as%20National,Preparedness%20Month%20Kicks%20Off%20Tomorrow&text=CHICAGO%20%E2%80%93%20September%20is%20National%20Preparedness,lasting%20legacy%20for%20future%20generations. 

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