NEWS | Sept. 4, 2018

National Preparedness Month: Making a disaster plan (Week 1)

Joint Base Charleston Emergency Management Training Section

National Preparedness Month, recognized each September, provides an opportunity to remind us that we all must prepare ourselves and our families now and throughout the year. This year, we will focus on planning, with an overarching theme: Disasters Happen. Prepare Now. Learn How. 


The first step to disaster preparedness is simply researching what the potential hazards are in your area. Knowing which hazards you could be facing is important to your planning process. Since hurricanes are a major hazard here, it is extremely important that everyone in the area know about evacuation procedures and safety measures needed to protect your property from hurricane force winds, rains, earthquakes, floods and fires.

This week’s National Preparedness Month article discusses how to make and practice your plan.

Make and practice your plan:

Planning is the key to success and practice, as they say, makes perfect. So step one is to make a plan. Each family’s plan will be unique to their needs. https://www.ready.gov/ is an excellent place to start your planning. Disaster planning in the Lowcountry needs to include preparedness for all major natural disasters to which this area is prone. The two biggest threats to our area are hurricanes and flooding. The South Carolina Emergency Management Department website includes evacuation routes, flood zones, and hurricane guides for the current season. Here is the link to their website for more information https://scemd.org/ .

For you and your family’s safety, ensure to follow these steps:

  1. Make a disaster plan- Create a family disaster plan and include all members of the family, including any pets in the household. Discuss different disasters that could strike and what you would do in each scenario. Your plan should include two different meeting places – one near your home and a second outside your neighborhood if returning home isn’t an option. In the event of a disaster, call a friend, supervisor or family member to let everyone know you’re safe and where you are. Be sure to research and practice your evacuation route. Knowing where you’re going can help you avoid panic during a disaster. Every member of your household should have a role to play. Work together, discuss and share ideas for your family’s plan.
  2. Make a kit- It is best practice to have two disaster kits – one for your home and one for your car. Ready.gov/kit is a great resource to help determine the best items to have in your kit, which can be a simple kit to last a few days or an expanded kit good for a week or more. An example of the simplest kit would be one containing non-perishable food and water for at least 3 days, a radio, a flashlight, a first aid kit, and extra batteries, can opener, eating utensils, local maps and moist towelettes. A hurricane guide would certainly be helpful for your kit as well. If you have pets, very young children, elderly family members, or persons with special needs in your household, your kits may need to be adjusted to accommodate their needs.
  3. Practice – Once you make plans, practice them! Have a fire drill at least twice a year. Practice your evacuation routes. Go through and practice your family communication plan. Practicing will make everyone feel more confident and will help ensure your plan will work smoothly in a real disaster.