Being prepared when disasters occur pays off â" but emergency kits can cost more than budget-conscious families and individuals are prepared to spend, especially in an uncertain economy.
"September is National Preparedness Month, and one of our themes is `Preparedness on a Budget,'" said Southwest Health District Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Julie Miller.
"Many of us are looking for ways to cut back on spending," she said. "At the same time, with the frequency of disasters we have been seeing â" both manmade and natural â" we ask ourselves, `Can we afford not to be prepared?' So we want to offer some ways to protect those who matter to you without spending a fortune."
Make a plan. Make sure everyone knows where to go and what to do in case of an emergency.
Make a kit. You may not need all the items in a ready-made preparedness kit. Instead, recycle a cardboard box. Choose the essentials that fit your needs and budget.
Plan your purchases. You can save money by thinking ahead. Don't buy preparedness items just before a storm when they are expensive and supplies will be in high demand. Buy items at the end of the season when you can get good deals.
Shop sales. Shop during sales and at used goods stores. Buy preparedness items throughout the year instead of all at once, and you won't notice the cost as much.
Make sure it keeps. Store water in safe containers. You don't need expensive bottled water, just make sure your water containers are disinfected and airtight.
Suggest a gift. Suggest preparedness supplies as gifts from your friends and families, and instead of getting something you don't want, you might get something that will save your life.
Update contact information. Make sure you have accurate records for family, friends and neighbors posted in visible places in your home and workplace.
Check your policy. Review your insurance policy annually and make appropriate changes. This goes for renters, too.
Don't stop with one. After you have an emergency preparedness kit at home, make one for work. When you have one at work, make one for your vehicle. After you are all set, see if you have elderly or disabled relatives or neighbors who need kits.
"Information about what to include in your personal preparedness kit, free downloadable templates for developing an emergency plan for your family and other information on ways to prepare for disasters is available online at www.ready.gov," Miller said.
In addition, she said, organizations who want their members to learn more about personal preparedness may contact the Southwest Health District Office of All Hazards Preparedness at 229-430-1966 to learn about available training and/or resources.