Last updated: September 27. 2013 5:57AM - 1381 Views

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We’ve seen many wonderful examples of West Virginians coming together in recent weeks. On September 11th we came together for the National Day of Service and Remembrance. And through this year’s Day to Serve effort, we’re reinforcing our state’s strong tradition of neighbor helping neighbor. West Virginians can also help their families and communities throughout September as part of National Preparedness Month.

Taking a few simple steps now can ensure that you and your loved ones are ready in the event of an emergency. You can start by making a plan. Edwin L. “Bo” Wriston and his colleagues at the Wirt County Office of Emergency Services know the importance of planning. They recently offered training for Community Emergency Response Teams. And the city of Bridgeport hosted its first Family Safety and Preparedness Expo this past weekend at Bridgeport High School.

I encourage you to talk to your family about what to do and where to go in the event of a natural disaster or other emergency. Figure out how you will stay in contact if you become separated. Ask if there are plans ready at locations where your family spends time, such as school, workplaces and places of worship. Consider older or disabled relatives or neighbors in your planning, as well as household pets.

Being prepared also means having an emergency supply kit. A disaster may leave your neighborhood without power and other utilities, or require you to leave your home at a moment’s notice. Think about the items your family will need, such as food, water and medications. Experts recommend supplies with a long shelf life and in sufficient quantities to last at least 72 hours.

Training in first aid and CPR can be a valuable part of advanced planning. Mountaineers can volunteer to help their communities with emergency preparedness through the West Virginia Citizen Corps program. There are also two dozen county and regional Community Emergency Response Teams throughout the state.

West Virginians can learn more about emergency planning at ready.wv.gov. The Federal Emergency Management Agency also offers resources for National Preparedness Month through ready.gov. These websites provide such helpful features as schedules of local preparedness events, planning checklists, and recommendations on what to include in an emergency kit and how to store it. You can even download preparedness apps for your smartphones from the Red Cross, at redcross.org.

Preparing in advance will help you keep your family safe while easing the burden of our first responders. I urge all my fellow West Virginians to take advantage of National Preparedness Month so we can be ready year-round.

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