September is National Preparedness Month! Across the country, communities and organizations are taking time to look at their ability to respond to and recover from disasters and emergencies, and here at Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance, we play a major role in the preparedness of our member clients.
Throughout the month of September, we are providing information and resources for you to use in growing resilient organizations, resilient families, resilient communities and, ultimately, resilient people!
What is National Preparedness Month?
Every year in September, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Ad Council observe National Preparedness Month to raise awareness of the importance of being prepared for disasters and emergencies that can occur at any time.
Here in Indiana, we face a wide range of natural hazards including flooding, tornados, blizzards and even earthquakes.In addition, there is still the full range of manmade emergencies whether accidental, like home fires and car accidents, or criminal, like cybercrimes or workplace violence. It is important for each of us to take the time to ask ourselves if we have the resources and plans to be ready for these disasters.
When did September become National Preparedness Month?
Following the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, the federal government overhauled how disasters and emergencies were handled, including forming the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and incorporating FEMA into its structure.
Major national preparedness plans and goals were written that have grown and adapted throughout the last 21 years. In 2004, September was declared National Preparedness Month with the goal of empowering whole communities, including businesses, non-profits and families, to take an active role in preparing for disasters.
As an insurance company, our mission is providing financial security for our members. In other words, we are here for you before and after disasters strike! One of the top recommendations FEMA makes for ensuring you can rebuild and recover from disaster is to have appropriate insurance coverage for your property and to cover your expenses following a disaster.
What can I do to commemorate National Preparedness Month?
There are many resources for commemorating National Preparedness Month. FEMA’s Ready.gov website has information for preparing families, individuals, communities, businesses and more. Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS) has similar resources, but they are geared toward the Hoosier state and those hazards we may face throughout the year. These are just two of the resources that also include county emergency management agencies, county Community Emergency Response Teams (CERTs), the American Red Cross and other disaster preparedness organizations.
The goal is to grow a culture of preparedness that will ensure the resiliency of our families, organizations and community. Throughout this month, we encourage you to dive into the information and resources that are available, looking at these four areas of preparedness and resiliency.
Whether we are talking about businesses, places of worship, schools or other entities, community organizations provide a lot of what we need on a day-to-day basis, including connection and community. It is important that we take the time to support those organizations we belong to by helping grow a culture of preparedness and resiliency.
Has your place of worship written emergency plans to take care of its community members if a disaster strikes during an event? Have you worked with your employer to develop plans to safely keep the business operating in case of an emergency? Do the teams, clubs and volunteer organizations you participate in have a way to check in to see that you are safe in case of a local disaster? You can play a role in growing a culture of preparedness in all these organizations and help them build their ability to survive and thrive through disasters and emergencies.
You start by looking at the hazards that could impact your organization. IDHS’s resources are an excellent starting point for seeing what could happen here in Indiana. Local emergency management agencies are even more specialized for your area, and you can start building relationships with them to be a part of supporting your community during disasters. Both the 2011 Joplin, Missouri tornado and Hurricane Harvey in 2017 showed that community organizations and businesses can generate the successful response communities need to recover from disaster.
Preparing a business or organization means ensuring that it has the financial resources to get back on its feet after a disaster. Review the resources it has and make sure there are appropriate insurance coverages and emergency funds. This will help you to get your team back up and running so that they are able to provide additional support to the community during disaster recovery. Businesses and other community organizations provide many of the resources that communities need, and your community will need you following disasters.
Just like businesses and other community organizations, families and households also play a huge role in a culture of preparedness, often more so than any other group. This is because people cannot be there to respond for their businesses, organizations or communities if they have their hands full keeping themselves and their families safe.
You can prepare your family with many of the same resources from FEMA and IDHS. Both agencies provide checklists to help ensure your home is secure and safe. Simple actions like checking your smoke detectors and the locks on your doors can go a long way to help prepare your family for potential emergencies.
I encourage everyone to talk with their family and develop plans for what to do in case of an emergency. Whether it's locating where in the house would be safest during a tornado or teaching your children where to meet if you must evacuate for a fire-making and practicing plans saves lives in emergencies.
You should also prepare emergency bags that can be grabbed quickly if you and your family need to flee a flood or prepare emergency supplies to support your family during long-term power outages, which often occur during major disasters.
Financial resiliency is a critical piece of this equation. You should regularly review insurance policies to ensure you have enough coverage for not just your home and auto, but also to cover replacing furniture and other valuable possessions. Make sure you have policies and financial records and information safely stored so that they will be available in an emergency. Preparing your family well in advance of any emergency can save your lives and give you the peace of mind that you are ready for such events.
If you don’t think your current policy has enough coverage for you and your family or want to walk through your policy’s terms to see what would happen if disaster struck, talk with a local insurance agent today to get more information.
Community is the keystone of resiliency, and whether it was the response to the Joplin tornado or Hurricane Harvey, prepared communities stand out for the speed and success of their response to disasters. In both disasters, families, businesses and other organizations came together and contributed to the success of the response and recovery.
Emergency management agencies play a major role in helping coordinate a community’s preparedness, but ultimately, for a community to be resilient, its people must come together to plan how they, their families, their businesses and their organizations will respond when disaster strikes.
You can play a part in this by participating in local emergency planning committees (LEPCs) or the equivalent to setting up preparedness forums where businesses and organizations can come together to discuss what would need to be done in the event of a local disaster.
Ultimately, all this preparation is to save and support people during and after a disaster. Personal resiliency, like family resiliency, is foundational to growing a culture of preparedness throughout your community. This includes seeing to your physical and mental health and making plans to support your loved ones in the event something happens to you. Life insurance and creating a will are both ways to prepare yourself and your family for disasters.
When you grow your own resilience, you grow that of your family, your organizations and our Indiana community’s resilience too!