September is National Preparedness Month and Maine Emergency Management Agency joins the efforts of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and millions of Americans in taking action to prepare for emergencies.

“Emergencies can happen anywhere, and unfortunately many people aren’t prepared,” MEMA Director Bruce Fitzgerald said in an Aug. 30 news release. “Oftentimes they aren’t motivated to prepare until they’ve experienced a disaster firsthand. We want to change that.”

Although preparedness is something citizens should be thinking about all year long, Preparedness Month serves as a reminder of the importance of taking action to prepare for the types of emergencies that could affect us where we live, work, learn and visit.

Preparedness Month in Maine will feature a different theme each week.

Week 1

With many heading back to school this week, the focus will be on youth preparedness. There are many things families can do at home with their children:

Have preparedness conversations with children;

Learn the building blocks of preparedness − be informed, make a plan, build a kit and get involved;

Know the emergency plan for your child’s school and child care facility;

Practice evacuation plans and other emergency procedures with children on a regular basis;

Learn different ways to help children cope during and after an emergency;

Make sure children have emergency contacts memorized or written down in a secure place;

Teach kids when and how to call important phone numbers like 911.

Week 2

The focus will be on preparing family and friends:

It’s important to make a plan and communicate that plan;

Update contact information;

Determine where you will meet outside your home, in your community, or outside of your town;

Prepare your home for emergencies;

Plan with community organizations and neighbors.

Week 3

This is a week to reflect on the events of Sept. 11, 2001, and an opportunity to recognize those who play a role in keeping citizens safe as first responders. It’s also an opportunity to remind people that not all disasters are natural disasters. There is a lot people can do to protect themselves and their neighbors from manmade disasters, such as active shooters and explosions. Citizens are encouraged to be vigilant in reporting anything that looks suspicious in their community.

Week 4

This week the focus will be on individual preparedness and preparedness for those with functional needs. The FEMA smartphone app is a great tool that allows users to receive weather alerts for up to five locations, as well as shelter information and preparedness tips. This is a quick, easy and free way to prepare.

Week 5

There are a number of natural hazards that Mainers can face, including hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, severe summer and winter storms, wildfires and earthquakes, which are rare, but can happen in Maine.

Daily preparedness information will be available at Twitter.com/MaineEMA and on Facebook.com/MaineEMA. Citizens are encouraged to share their preparedness stories with MEMA on social media. Additional information about preparedness is available at Maineprepares.com.