National Preparedness Month - | News, Weather & Sports in Billings, Montana

National Preparedness Month

Posted: Updated:

It's National Preparedness Month. September marks the 9th year for the month long initiative. The goal is to make sure families, neighborhoods, and communities are as prepared as they can be for disasters.

"You never know when a disaster is going to happen. You're going to need to have things ready," says Michelle Kay, Disaster Action Team Volunteer with American Red Cross. "A lot of times, you don't have a lot of time to get things together."

That's why it's important to have an emergency kit packed and ready.

"If you have a kit that's ready to go, you're not frantic. Usually, when you're trying to leave your house in a hurry, a lot of people are frantic and they don't really know what to get," says Kay.

Here in Big Sky country, we have a beautiful playground as our back yard, but along with that comes unpredictable weather.

"When weather conditions cause significant problems the most important is listen to local authorities. They may recommend shelter in place or they recommend going to an evacuation center," says Dan Borsum, Senior Forecaster at National Weather Service Billings.

And in the event you must evacuate, you'll want to be sure you have everything you need to survive that disaster, including a radio.

"The most important reason to have a radio that can get your local weather and everything, is just so you're staying informed as to what's happening in your area with the disaster," says Abbra Firman, Disaster Services Manager with American Red Cross, who also says it's important to have a light source. "There's a lot of times that disasters have power outages. Being able to see keeps you safe."

The ability to have access to watched and warnings is key in an emergency.

"Make sure you can receive information even if you're under those impacted circumstances," says Borsum. "When the National Weather Service is issuing warnings, we're saying that there is something imminent that could be causing a threat to life and property."

Knowing you have that kit ready will make your life much easier in the event of a disaster.

"One of the good things about having a kit, it's one less worry you have to have in a disaster," says Kay.

The American Red Cross says at a minimum, each kit should have the basic supplies listed below:

- Water -- one gallon per person, per day (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home)

- Food -- non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home)

- Flashlight

- Battery-powered or hand-crank radio

- Extra batteries

- First Aid kit

- Medications and medical items

- Multi-purpose tool

- Sanitation and personal hygiene items

- Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)

- Cell phone with chargers

- Family and emergency contact information

- Extra cash

- Emergency blanket

- Maps of the area