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1,745 Disasters and Counting...ARE YOU PREPARED?

It has happened in every state in America, every U.S. territory and the District of Columbia. It happens an average of 31 times each year. It could happen soon where you live.

Are you prepared for a disaster?

Since 1953 there have been 1,745 disasters which received a presidential declaration. The first of the numbered disasters was a tornado in Georgia. Southern California wildfires that raged last fall received declaration number 1,731 and caused one of the largest evacuations in U.S. history. Severe storms ripped through Tennessee and Arkansas recently to push the number to 1,745.

Each number represents an event that was too destructive for state and local governments to manage without federal help. Many disasters force residents out of their homes. Residents who remain often go days without water, lights, and energy to cook food or heat their homes.

Is your family prepared for a disaster?

“We urge every home to have a well-rehearsed disaster plan and an emergency supply kit at the ready,” said Henry Renteria of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (OES) and Mike Hall of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (REMA) in a joint statement. “There is no substitute for preparedness. Luck may be helpful, but preparedness is vital.”

OES and FEMA remind families that all household members may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to plan in advance. How will family members contact one another and get back together; how will they handle each of the wide variety of threatening scenarios that communities could encounter? There is much to consider.

Emergency Information

Families should first learn the kinds of disasters, both natural and man-made, that are most likely to occur in their area. Regions may experience a variety of disruptions, including earthquakes, tornados, wildfires, flood, and severe storms. Some communities have a reverse 9-1-1 system where households and businesses are notified when a problem is on the horizon. In other communities – when time permits – emergency workers go door-to-door. More commonly, emergency information is broadcast over radio and TV.

Here are basic tips to start you on your emergency preparedness journey.

Your Family Emergency Plan

  • Give every member of your family a list of important phone numbers and a place to meet if you have to evacuate.
  • Talk through the evacuation plan and practice it.
  • When making your plan, consider the needs of small children, older adults, and anyone with special needs.
  • Plan for pets.
  • A long-distance phone call may be easier to connect than a call across town, so pick an out-of-town contact to serve as an information hub for separated family members.
  • If your family has cell phones, text messaging often works when voice lines are not available.

Is your neighborhood prepared for a disaster?

In a major disaster, your family will not be in this alone. Talk to your neighbors about how to pull together to help one another. Ask about emergency plans at work, daycare and school. Volunteer to help create a disaster plan and to assemble an emergency supply kit wherever needed.

Disaster number 1,746 could strike anywhere. Be informed, stay prepared.

For more information about disaster planning and how to assemble an emergency supply kit, visit

FEMA coordinates the federal government’s role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.

Reprinted with permission from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for information purposes only and should not be considered as an endorsement of this company or its website. FEMA release date: February 19, 2008.