Before disaster strikes, be set with a plan

September is National Preparedness Month, and this year marks the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks. Knowing what to do before and after an emergency can be a lifesaver for you, your family and/or your business.

The Better Business Bureau can help you be prepared when a disaster strikes.

National Preparedness Month has been observed in the U.S. since 2004. It’s sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) within the Department of Homeland Security. National Preparedness Month encourages you to take steps to prepare for emergencies in your home, business, school and community, such as responding to emergencies, including natural disasters and potential terrorist attacks.

A recent survey by the Ad Council found 60 percent of Americans don’t have an emergency plan. When preparing, your BBB recommends these tips to keep you safe:

• Consider putting together an emergency kit including water for three days, nonperishable food, flashlight, first-aid kit, dust masks, multifunctional tools like a wrench or pliers, etc. Remember, to check your items every few months for expiration dates and replace them as necessary.

• Discuss with family, friends and co-workers where you’d meet in case of a disaster and how you’ll contact each other.

• Make sure important documents such as Social Security cards, passports and birth certificates are locked in a safe box and place them near your escape route.

• Be sure to have an alternate location to run your business in the event of an emergency.

• Check with your insurance company to see what is and isn’t covered under your policy.

• Be sure to run through your plan once or twice a year with employees, family members and/or friends.

Inquire about emergency plans at work, school and/or daycare to determine there are plans in place. If no plans exist, consider volunteering to put a plan in action.

If you have any questions regarding emergency plans, you can always get help from your BBB, visit or call (937) 222-5825 or (800) 776-5301. You can also download the Family Communication Plan for Parents and Kids from Likewise, read more about school and workplace plans at

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John North is president of the Dayton Better Business Bureau.