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You are here: Home > Organizing Advice > Emergency Preparedness > September is National Preparedness Month
Contributed by Jackie Kelley, Owner of Clearing House based in Bethesda, MD,

As part of a national effort to educate businesses, individuals and families on the importance of being prepared in an emergency, the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) has signed on as a coalition member of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s National Preparedness Month.  The goal is to help raise public awareness about the importance of preparing for emergencies and to encourage individuals to take action.   If you are interested in learning more about how you can better prepare your business, home or family for an unexpected crisis, visit for materials, checklists, tips and other helpful information.   

Also, the American Red Cross offers an online educational presentation entitled Be Red Cross Ready – Get A Kit. Make a Plan. Be Informed.  Visit to view this presentation and link to other helpful resources such as an emergency kit shopping list, emergency contact forms, first aid training and a link to the popular online store where you can purchase pre-assembled kits and other disaster preparedness merchandise (  

Emergency Response Plan:  Do You Have One?   Having lived for many years in the disaster-prone state of California, it became second nature for my family to have at-the-ready our disaster supply kit (for earthquakes, in particular) and a plan for evacuation if needed.   Now that our roots are firmly planted here in the metro Washington D.C. region, we updated our plan to account for potential threats unique to this region (Code Yellow, Orange and Red), the occasional hurricane, our school-age children and aging parents.    

Wherever you live, consider drafting your own emergency response plan and sharing it with a local relative or close friend (or both) who could offer help should an emergency arise.  Include:
  • Key contact information for all local family members or friends taking part in your plan (cell, work and home numbers, email addresses, and work addresses);
  • Key contact information for a designated out-of-town contact (family member or close friend);
  • School addresses and phone numbers, if appropriate, and contact information for people authorized to pick up your children from school.  Be sure you know the school’s emergency procedures;
  • Detailed instructions on the retrieval and care of children, elderly relatives and pets;
  • Designated rendezvous location for family reunification;  plan for a no-evacuation scenario, and an immediate evacuation scenario;
Enlist local relatives, neighbors and/or close friends in the process to ensure that all necessary information and detailed wishes are communicated.  Once you have a written plan, make a copy for everyone involved and keep a copy at work, home and in your car.  Update the information annually, or as necessary.  Even if you never implement your personal response plan, you’ll feel better knowing you are prepared.