During National Preparedness Month in September experts, are warning people everywhere to get prepared for the unexpected.

“We truly believe every community is potentially threatened by emergencies or disasters,” said Aprille Slutsky, spokesperson for the Arizona Division of Emergency Management (ADEM). “It helps when the whole community comes together to be prepared.”

ADEM encourages residents to plan, prepare, inquire and inspire.

The first step in a plan for emergencies is gathering phone numbers, writing them down and having that piece of paper available.

“That should also include an out-of-town contact,” Slutsky said. “Ironically, sometimes during disasters, it’s easier to call long distance than in town.”

The plan should also include an evacuation plan which families should practice.

Families can prepare by putting together a 72-hour emergency kit. The kit should include food and water for each family member, including any pets. It should also hold prescriptions, first-aid supplies, a flashlight and batteries. ADEM suggests keeping a smaller emergency kit inside your car if possible. Water alone can be a valuable resources to have in your car if you happen to break down somewhere.

Inquiring community leaders and your child’s school is a good way to know what kind of disasters can hit your neighborhood and what the plan is if something does happen. Slutsky said flash floods are a big issue for the Valley. Residents should know which streets flood and have a plan for how to avoid those areas.

Finally, ADEM encourages residents to inspire others by being an example.

“Be proactive,” Slutsky said. “Take a basic first-aid course. Learn CPR. Donate blood or even volunteer with organizations like the Red Cross.”

Two websites, www.azein.gov and ready.gov, have resources to help families as they begin making their own emergency plan.

“The thing I love about my community is the neighbors talk and we all know what’s going on, even with little things like ‘I’m leaving this weekend; can you watch over the house?’ ” Slutsky said. “I think it helps a community if you come together in easy times to really come together when something may hit you.”

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or ahurtado@ahwatukee.com.

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