September is National Preparedness Month, a full month dedicated to encouraging the public to assess and
prepare for local disaster risks and unplanned emergencies. The 2020 National Household Survey (NHS)
conducted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) found that a growing number of people invest
in disaster preparation activities. Approximately 68 percent of respondents have taken at least moderate steps
toward and have set aside funds in preparation for an emergency. Better Business Bureau serving Central East
Texas (BBB) urges families to prepare for the unexpected and by implementing an emergency preparedness
“Whether it’s a hurricane, winter storm, or other type of disaster or emergency situation,” Mechele Agbayani Mills,
President and CEO of BBB serving Central East Texas said. “You can avoid making hasty and potentially
dangerous decisions by being as proactive as possible. In other words, have an emergency plan and an
Your emergency kit should include items such as:
• a gallon of water per person per day for three days,
• a three-day supply of nonperishable food for each family member,
• a flashlight with extra batteries,
• first-aid kit,
• a whistle to signal for help,
• dust masks,
• a wrench or pliers to turn off utilities,
• a power inverter or solar charger for your cell phone
In addition to having an emergency kit ready, discuss with family and friends how to contact one another, where to meet if you can’t go home and what to do in specific situations like a tornado or fire. Make sure all family members know where to meet and who to contact in case you get separated. A relative or friend in another area is an ideal emergency contact person. Make sure everyone in the family knows how to send and receive text messages. Consider downloading smartphone apps which provide emergency information. You might also consider enabling location sharing with family members and emergency contacts.
Families may also want to consider including such items as prescription medications, infant formula and diapers, pet food and cash. Remember to check your supplies every few months and replace expired items.
Better Business Bureau, with tips from FEMA (check out Ready.gov for more), offer you these tips on how to
prepare for a disaster:
• Catalogue your valuables. Take pictures of your valuables and place them in a safe. This can help the
insurance company assess the dollar amount for your losses.
• Protect important documents. Place copies of important family documents such as birth certificates,
passports, insurance policies and photos in a waterproof, portable container near your escape route.
• Start with trust. Whether you’re shopping for insurance before a disaster strikes or looking for a
company to clean damaged areas, remove debris and rebuild, review the company’s Business Profile at
• Know where to turn. FEMA, the Texas Division of Emergency Management and the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention have many resources available to help families prepare for what to do before,
during and after disasters happen.
For more tips on how to prepare before and react to a disaster, go to bbb.org and ready.gov. To report
fraudulent activity or unscrupulous business practices, please call the BBB Hotline (903)581-8373, or go to BBB Scam Tracker.