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      September marks beginning of National Preparedness Month

      The American Red Cross recognizes September as National Preparedness Month.

      The Red Cross recognizes September as National Preparedness Month and the Heart of Missouri chapter is encouraging all homes be ready for an emergency or disaster.

      "Having a game plan in place is essential for all households so everyone knows what they should do when an emergency occurs," said Dave Griffith, the chapterâ??s executive director.

      "National Preparedness Month is a perfect time for Mid-Missouri residents to create or update their plan."

      It's important to have a plan incase of an emergency so your family is prepared when the unexpected happens. Not everyone in the household may be in the same place when a disaster happens, many people may be at work or school. The plan should include a group meeting place, one near the home, and one outside the neighborhood. Identify an emergency contact person from outside the immediate area incase local telephone lines are overwhelmed or not functioning.

      Any emergency plan should also include decisions about where family members will go if ordered to evacuate and what route they will take to get there. Itâ??s a good idea to include alternate routes in case roads are closed. If pets are part of the household, make sure to include plans for them such as pet-friendly hotels and animal shelters along the evacuation route.

      Another way to prepare your family for an emergency is to have a kit that contains a 3-day suppy of water, non-perishable food, a flashlight, battery-powered or hand-crank radio, batteries, a first aid kit, any required medications, personal hygiene items, and copies of important personal documents.

      The Red Cross has free mobile apps that provide information on what to do before, during, and after emergencies including developing an emergency plan. The app has a "Make a Plan" feature, and the content is pre-loaded incase internet access isn't available during an emergency.

      Everyone also needs to stay informed about what types of disasters are most likely to occur where they live or where they plan to visit. It is also important to take a First Aid and CPR/AED courseâ??a vital component of disaster preparedness in case emergency help is delayed. For more information on how to prepare for emergencies, people can visit or contact the Heart of Missouri Chapter at 866-815-2738.