Government Urges Americans to Focus on Personal Emergency Preparedness During Hurricane Season

As Hurricane Season 2009 begins to ramp up, and with Katrina and other hurricanes still in the minds of many, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) continues to work with state, local and federal partners to increase preparedness and coordinate response and recovery in the case of a hurricane or disaster. FEMA also is urging Americans to use the annual start of hurricane season as a reminder to assess your personal readiness to respond to emergencies.

"Administrator Fugate and I met with the President to discuss the Department’s efforts to prepare our communities for the approaching hurricane season," said Department of Homeland Defense Secretary Janet Napolitano. "We discussed FEMA’s progress on prepositioned assets, evacuation plans and emergency communications—and our department-wide efforts to revitalize relationships with state and local partners as we ready the nation for disasters of all kinds. I look forward to updating the president as DHS continues to work towards preparedness on all fronts."

Everyone, even those living outside of hurricane-risk areas, should check personal preparations such as emergency kit supplies (enough to last at least 72 hours), note messages from local emergency officials and rehearse emergency evacuation routes.

Important items to have ready in case of an emergency include a battery-powered radio, flashlight, extra batteries, medicines, non-perishable food, hand-operated can opener, utility knife and first aid supplies. Copy and store your important documents in a waterproof bag. These may include medical records, contracts, property deeds, leases, banking records, insurance records and birth certificates.

This is the time to consider potential needs of everyone in the household during an emergency. If your household includes a person with a disability, special steps to assist them may be necessary and should be considered now.

Pets also require special handling. They may become agitated during the onset of a storm, so a pet carrier is a must for safe travel. Pet owners should research pet boarding facilities now within a certain radius of where you may evacuate, since animals may not be welcome in all shelters or hotels.

The beginning of hurricane season also is a good time to purchase a flood insurance policy. Not only are homes and businesses in hurricane-prone states at risk for flood, but inland flooding is common in nearby states. To assess flood risk for your home or find a local agent selling national flood insurance, visit http://www.floodsmart.gov or call 888-379-9531.

"If you live a hurricane prone area, ensuring your family is prepared is common sense," said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. "We never know where the next hurricane or disaster will strike, but we know that the more we do now to prepare, the better the outcome will be. FEMA will continue to work with our state, local, and federal partners to ensure that we are prepared, but it is also important that all Americans take the necessary steps now- like developing a family disaster plan - before a hurricane or disaster strikes."

More preparedness information.

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