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Johns Hopkins University
5801 Smith Avenue
Davis Building · Suite 3220
Baltimore, MD 21209
Phone: 410.735.6450
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Prepare for the Unexpected


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September is National Preparedness Month, and since disasters and emergencies can strike anywhere, at any time, the observance serves as a good reminder to be ready for the unexpected.

“We don’t want to think about a disaster actually happening to ourselves or friends and family, but, unfortunately, disasters happen across the globe every day,” says Lauren Sauer, CEPAR’s director of operations, who has witnessed firsthand the aftermath of natural disasters, such as hurricanes and earthquakes. “It’s better to take the proper steps now to ensure your family knows what to do in the event of an emergency.”

CEPAR recommends the following steps to get ready before an emergency happens:

  • Prepare an emergency supply kit. The kit should have enough water, food and medications for at least three days per person. Your gear should also include a first-aid kit, flashlight, extra batteries, cellphone charger and other necessities you and your family might need.
     
  • Create an evacuation plan. Note your home’s exits and where you should meet up with your family if you are separated. Review and practice the plan regularly with your family, and make sure children know your phone number and address.
     
  • Understand which disasters could take place in your area. Depending on your location, different potential disasters are more likely. For example, if you live in Florida, hurricanes are possible. Identifying potential emergencies could help you understand what you need to do to stay safe. It’s also important to know what disasters you might experience when going on vacation, and plan for them.
     
  • Make sure you have access to important documents. Protect and store documents, such as financial and legal documents and insurance information, in a fireproof safe, on a password-protected thumb drive or on an online “cloud” server. 
     
  • Learn a lifesaving skill. Whether it’s first aid, CPR or “Stop the Bleed” bystander training, these skills could help save someone’s life in the event of a disaster.
     
  • Install detectors in your home. Smoke alarms should be placed on every level of your home and tested monthly. Also consider placing carbon monoxide detectors and natural gas detectors throughout your house to alert you of any emergencies.

For additional preparedness tips, check out CEPAR’s personal and family disaster planning tip sheet and tips for preparing your pets for disaster.