National Preparedness Month: Make a plan

September 1, 2021

National Preparedness Month (NPM) is an observance each September to raise awareness about the importance of preparing for disasters and emergencies that could happen at any time. The 2021 theme is “Prepare to Protect. Preparing for disasters is protecting everyone you love.”

Each week in September, Habitat Oregon will focus on a different aspect of preparedness for individuals, families and communities.

Week 1: Make a plan

In order to protect your home and family, it’s important to be prepared and have a plan in place. Habitat for Humanity’s family preparedness plan contains four steps that families should take to be ready for any disaster:

Identify hazards

  • Identify what types of disasters are most likely to happen in your area, and learn about how to prepare for each. A few of Oregon’s common disasters include wildfires and winter weather.
  • Find out your community’s unique risks using Habitat’s Natural Hazard Explorer.
  • Learn about your community’s warning system and signals (sirens, text messages, etc.).
  • Consider purchasing a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather radio. This radio broadcasts official warnings, watches, advisories, forecasts and other hazards 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Identify local organizations that perform emergency management and know how to contact them: Red Cross, Oregon Office of Emergency Management
  • Educate yourself on any disaster plans in place at your workplace, children’s school or other places you and your family spend time.

Hold a family meeting

  • Meet with your family to discuss why it is important to be prepared.
  • Review the types of disasters that are most likely to occur, and explain what to do in each situation.
  • Assign responsibilities to each family member, and plan to work together as a team.
  • Decide on locations where you will meet in case a disaster strikes:
    • Outside your home and neighborhood in case of a sudden emergency, such as an earthquake or fire.
    • Outside your city in case you cannot return home.
  • Discuss what to do in an evacuation and create a family evacuation plan.
  • If a family member is in the military or frequently away from home, plan how you will respond if he or she is away when a disaster strikes.
  • Document how your family will communicate if a disaster strikes, and create a Family Communications Plan.
  • If anyone in your family has a disability or special needs, adjust your plan accordingly.
  • Be sure to include your family pets in your plan.


  • Assemble a disaster supply kit.
  • Locate safe places in your home for each type of disaster.
  • Determine the best evacuation routes from your home.
  • Become trained in first aid and CPR.
  • Show each family member how and where to shut off utilities (water, gas, electricity).
  • Make a complete inventory of your home and property.
  • Teach each family member how to use a fire extinguisher and where to find one.
  • Post emergency contacts (friends, family, neighbors, police, fire, etc.) on the refrigerator.

Practice your plan

  • Practice your plan with your family on a regular basis (every six months).
  • Check your disaster supply kit every three months.
  • Replace stored water and food every three months.
  • Update any emergency contact info as changes occur.

Additional resources