September - A time to Focus on YOUR Emergency Preparedness


Okay, the government has declared September to be “Emergency Preparedness Month.” But, we all know being prepared for emergencies is, and should be, a 24/7, 365 days a year activity.

Now, this doesn’t mean every day you need to be stocking up on supplies, running family fire drills or practicing putting on a life vest. It does mean taking time to think through what you would do in the event of a variety of emergency situations, whether they are events which effect the public at large, your community in particular or you and your family personally and taking appropriate steps to prepare for them.

When I say “prepare,” I mean in advance, before the emergency arrives.

While different types of emergency situations may require different types of preparation, there is one step that takes precedence – information gathering.

The first type of information is personal:

  • Include the identification of yourself and every member of your immediate family including full name, age, birthdate, home address, phone number(s), email address(es), relationship and work address for starters.
  • Include family members who live away from you whether across town or across the country. You should also include identifying information for any pets, including description, ID tags and if they have an embedded chip with digital contact numbers. A photo of each could be very helpful as well.
  • You can make a hard copy for storage in your personal record file and keep it on a thumb drive or other digital media including your smartphone.

Additional critical Information:

  • The location and non-emergency phone numbers for the closest police station, fire department, hospital or emergency care clinic and ambulance service as well as the nearest shelter or Red Cross facility.
  • Your bank account numbers, insurance policies and company contact numbers for auto, home, property along with credit card numbers and contact information.
  • Lastly, consider making a list of basic health information for yourself and family members including chronic medical conditions, mobility challenges, medications and allergies.

Visit federal, state and local emergency management websites for information templates to help you gather and organize your information.

Having this information gathered, organized and available can make a big difference in managing most any type of emergency situation you might face. In addition, you can enjoy the peace of mind that comes from having taken this important step in preparation.

We’ll have other preparation tips and resources throughout the month, so check back soon.

James Benson, Chief Communications Officer

James Benson is a career public relations executive with over 38 years’ experience communicating with diverse audiences in a wide variety of venues. A retired Air Force officer, he spent the latter half of his Air Force career as a public affairs officer enjoying a series of one-of-a-kind positions with equally unique communication challenges. From arranging press conferences, to producing news and training videos, to explaining research, development and contracting issues to the media, he enjoyed tuning in to each audience to ensure the message was received and understood. As the marketing director of a mid-sized hospital, Mr. Benson directed the advertising and promotion of membership and referral programs and community health fairs, conducted outreach efforts to rural health care clinics and community education programs, created a trade show display and produced and hosted a radio health program. At the Department of Veterans Affairs, Mr. Benson served as a senior public affairs executive responding to media requests, preparing senior officials and subject matter experts for media interviews, hosting a magazine-style television program with benefit information for Veterans and providing emcee support for numerous department and public ceremonies and special events. As an adjunct professor, Mr. Benson has taught classes in communications for the past 10 years. Currently, Mr. Benson is providing strategic communications, media relations and marketing support to B & G Educational Innovations, LLC, makers of ReaLifeSim clinical simulation training products