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Get Disaster-ready and Craft Your Emergency Plan During National Preparedness Month

This September marks the third annual National Preparedness Month, an observance to raise awareness about the importance of preparing for disasters and emergencies that could happen at any time.

This year, communities across our nation have once again faced unprecedented challenges, from record winter storms and snowfall, droughts, devastating heat waves, wildfires, floods, extreme poor air quality days, and hurricanes - with 3 months of 2023 still left. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) “The U.S. has been struck with a record-breaking 23 separate weather and climate disasters— each with losses exceeding $1 billion — between January and August 2023. With approximately four months still left in the year, 2023 has already surpassed the previous record of 22 events seen in all of 2020.“[1] 

Knowing what disasters and hazards could affect our area, how to get emergency alerts, and where you would go if you and your family need to evacuate are critical steps we all need to take to be prepared for the next emergency.  As National Preparedness Month reminds us, the time to prepare is NOW, before an emergency strikes.

2023 Theme: Take Control in 1, 2, 3.

The Ready Campaign’s 2023 National Preparedness Month theme is “Take Control in 1, 2, 3”. The campaign will focus on preparing older adults for disasters, specifically older adults from communities that are disproportionally impacted by the all-hazard events, which continue to threaten the nation.

We know older adults can face greater risks when it comes to the multitude of extreme weather events and emergencies we now face, especially if they are living alone, are low-income, have a disability, or live in rural areas.

New Jersey Trends

Climate change-related trends we have seen signal a need for fundamental changes to how we prepare for emergencies. In New Jersey, we face challenges that mirror the national trends. E.g., New Jersey is warming faster than the rest of the Northeast region and the world. Our annual temperature has increased by 3.5°F since 1895. It is likely to continue to get worse. Not only is the annual precipitation in New Jersey expected to increase by 4% to 11% by 2050, but the intensity and frequency of the precipitation events is anticipated to increase, with the size and frequency of flooding similarly increasing. The warmer atmosphere and oceans will likely cause tropical storms to increase in intensity. Droughts may occur more frequently due to the expected changes in precipitation patterns. Sea-levels are increasing at a greater rate in New Jersey than other parts of the world.

For more details on the challenges New Jerseyans will face see the 2020 Scientific Report on Climate Change.

Each new climate disaster further schools us about the need to prepare for the stronger, more erratic weather events that may be in our future. Federal government agencies such as FEMA, National Weather Service and the Department of Homeland Security have put together campaigns to promote disaster preparedness. Through the and other sites they promote citizen awareness and planning.

3 Things at a Minimum has a 12-step plan to help you weather the next emergency.  Howevhey recommend three things at a minimum:

  1. Staying informed about the different types of emergencies that could occur and their appropriate responses.
  2. Building an emergency supply kit, and
  3. Making a family emergency plan.

Step 1 – Sign up for Community Notifications and Alerts

Rave Logo 2C smThe first step to your emergency preparedness is to sign up for alerts and warnings published by the Township and other agencies to stay abreast of emergencies happening locally. Ewing Township publishes warnings via the Rave Mobile Alerts, also known as the “Mayor’s Messages.” Sign up now to ensure that you receive critical Ewing-centric notifications as they are published.

The Rave Mobile Alerts System will keep you up to date about both emergency and non-emergency situations. Receive a phone call, email or text about floods, fires, water emergencies, road closures, missing persons, evacuation orders, and weather emergencies. Non-emergency notifications may include Township information such as event and program reminders, service information, and other general communications. You may customize your alerts by opting-in or opting-out of some types of notifications.

Step 2 - Prepare

build a kit facebookCreate a disaster supplies kit including food and water, flashlights, batteries, chargers, cash and first aid supplies needed for at least three days. Don’t forget medications or the needs of pets.

Step 3 – Make an Emergency Plan

Plan how you will assemble your family and loved ones and anticipate where you will go for different situations. Get together with your family and agree on the ways to contact one another in an emergency, identify meeting locations, and make a Family Emergency Communication Plan.

Don’t forget a family member with medical disabilities.

If a family member has medical disabilities and will need special assistance during an emergency, we encourage them to sign up for NJ Special Needs Registry. The “Register Ready” program allows NJ residents with disabilities to preregister so that emergency responders can better plan to serve them in a disaster or other emergency.

Ewing’s Fire Companies also maintain their own database of addresses/individuals that need special assistance evacuating. Fill out their Emergency Information Request form and send it to them to be included in their database and ensure that they are especially prepared to help you in the event of an emergency. (This information is not publicly shared.)

Don’t forget family members who are older adults.

Older adults may have specific needs after a disaster. The Preparedness Guide for Older Adults from FEMA and helps you to assess your needs, make an emergency plan and preparedness kit tailored to those unique needs, and finally, recommends building and engaging strong support networks. This may include family, friends, caregivers, neighbors, fellow congregants from places of worship, as well as any others who can assist you during an emergency.

Older adults should think about the following when they create their emergency plan.

  1. Medical conditions or dietary requirements that require specific care or medication,
  2. Mobility challenges or disabilities that require planning,
  3. Ensuring pet/service animal safety and well-being,
  4. Placement of a pet if a shelter cannot accept them,
  5. Communication strategies with support network,
  6. Transportation of emergency supplies,
  7. Emergency plan and preparedness kit creation – is help needed?
  8. Translation services, are they needed and who can translate for me?
  9. A completed will should be included with paperwork in the disaster kit,
  10. How could my day-to-day routine be disrupted during an emergency —what is the worst that could happen, and do I have a plan to cope or adjust?
  11. Who has the extra key to the house, knows where your emergency supplies are, and knows how to use lifesaving equipment or administer medicine,
  12. What the emergency plans and back up services are for routine treatments administered by a clinic or hospital.

Older Adults with Limited Resources Should Consider

  1. What resources do I already have access to that I could use in an emergency or if I need to evacuate?
  2. Have I explored community resources that can assist me during emergencies?
  3. Do I know what affordable transportation options exist if needed?
  4. How do I currently address my basic needs (food, water, shelter, etc.) and how will this change during an emergency? publishes a full set of resources to help you prepare for emergencies. Be sure to check out their Are You Ready?Guide, a complete citizen guide that will help you prepare for all different kinds of emergency situations.

Knowing what disasters and hazards could affect our area, how to get emergency alerts, and where you would go if you and your family need to evacuate are critical steps we all need to take to be prepared for the next emergency. We urge you to set aside some time and prepare now, as National Preparedness Month reminds us, before the next emergency strikes.

[1] U.S. saw its 9th-warmest August on record | National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (