National Preparedness Month 2015

September has been designated as National Preparedness Month

This month is a great opportunity to take action and prepare your home and family for disasters and emergencies.  Several organizations and agencies in Montana have partnered to create a common preparedness message, making it easy for you to know what to do and how to do it.  Each week this month will focus on a different hazard and ways to prepare.  Please visit the following facebook pages and consider "liking" them to get preparedness information throughout the month:

Serve Montana
Disaster and Emergency Services
National Weather Service in Great Falls
National Weather Service in Glasgow
National Weather Service in Billings
National Weather Service in Missoula
Department of Natural Resources and Conservation
Keep Montana Green
Department of Public Health and Human Services
American Red Cross of Montana

The weekly topics for September are as follows:

Week 1:  Wildfires

Sept. 1:

As of September 1st, more than 2,000 ‪#‎wildfires‬ have burned nearly 500 square miles this year in Montana. Although we have seen more activity this year than last year, it has not been an unusual wildfire season for the state.

For information on preparing your family and home for wildfires,

For information on general disaster preparedness, visit:


Sept. 2:

During a ‪#‎wildfire‬ evacuation, you may have mere minutes to leave your home. Keeping an easily accessible ‪#‎EmergencySupplyKit‬ may save you and your family time. Kits don’t need to be expensive - you likely already own many of the recommended items.

For protection from ‪#‎wildfiresmoke‬, consider adding an N95 respirator to your kit. Standard dust masks are not effective for wildfire smoke.

For more info on building a kit, visit the Montana Ready, Set, Go! Guide

For information on general disaster preparedness, visit:

infographic-are-you-prepared cdc

Sept. 3:

Wildfires can move rapidly, unpredictably and block roadways. It is critical to evacuate as soon as you are told to do so. To receive evacuation notices, consider purchasing a NOAA weather radio or downloading the free Red Cross Emergency App. Determine multiple evacuation routes and practice with your family.

For more info about emergency evacuations, visit:

emergency app

Sept. 4:

As we wrap up the first week of ‪#‎NatlPrep‬ Month, learn how to create defensible space to separate your home from flammable vegetation and materials.

Zone 1: A minimum of 30 feet is needed for firefighters to protect a structure from wildfire. On a slope, increase the distance to 100 feet downhill of the structure. Use low growing and low flammability plants, spaced apart from each other. Remove dead material.

Zone 2: Deciduous trees and shrubs and widely-spaced conifers may be used in Zone 2. Remove branches within 8 feet of the ground (but no more than 30 percent of the height of the tree) and space trees so that crowns remain at least 10 feet apart at maturity. Remove tree limbs and other materials that allow fire to burn into the tree crown.

Zone 3: Manage this zone to maintain forest stand health and other landowner objectives. Limit number of dead trees but save some for wildlife (1 or 2 dead trees per acre).

For information on preparing your family and home for wildfires,

For information on general disaster preparedness, visit:


Week 2:  Severe Weather

Sept. 7:

For the 2nd week of ‪#‎NatlPrep‬ Month, we'll be focusing on severe weather. To get started, learn more about hazardous weather by checking out one of the four National Weather Service offices in your area:

Great Falls National Weather Service Office:

Glasgow National Weather Service Office:

Billings National Weather Service Office:

Missoula National Weather Service Office:

Slide1 Slide2 Slide3 Slide4 Slide5

Sept. 8:

Winter Driving Checklist:
1. Allow extra time to get to your destination.
2. Clean off your car. Keep windows, mirrors and lights clear of snow and ice.
3. Always buckle up.
4. Slowdown in poor visibility conditions.
5. Maintain a safe distance behind other vehicles.
6. Expect ice on bridges and in shady spots.
7. Don't pass snowplows or spreaders unless it's absolutely necessary.
8. Prepare your vehicle for winter driving at the start of the season.
9. Check to be sure all four tires are in good condition.
10. Don't wait until the last minute to get snow tires mounted. 
11. Keep an emergency travel kit in your car.

For more information about driving safely in the winter, visit:

winter 1winter 5winter 4winter 3winter 2

Sept. 9:

We may not think of drought as severe weather, but drought conditions can be linked to increased wildfire risk and water scarcity issues.  For information about drought hazards in Montana, visit:

drought 1 drought 2 drought 3 drought 4 drought 5

Sept. 10:

In the event of a disaster, "shelter-in-place" means to take immediate shelter where you are—at home, work, school, or in between. It may also mean seal the room- take steps to prevent outside air from coming in. This is because local authorities may instruct you to shelter-in-place if chemical or radiological contaminants are released into the environment. If advised, close all windows and venting systems in your home and go to an interior room. Remember to take your emergency supply kit with you! Remain there until you hear it is safe from local officials.

Sept. 11:

Severe weather, such as blizzards, high winds, and thunderstorms can knock out power for several days. Businesses may also be affected and roads could be impassible. Having sufficient water, food, and supplies for your family is critical if you are unable to leave your home for an extended period of time.

Be prepared by having an emergency supply kit with several days’ worth of resources. Keep it in a secure location in your home and rotate food and water annually.

For more information on building an emergency supply kit, visit:

For more information about sheltering-in-place, visit:

Week 3:  Floods

Sept. 14:

Floods are the most common and costly natural disasters in Montana and the U.S.

Floods can be caused by:
• fast melting snow
• severe storms
• ice jams
• heavy rainfall

Flooding can happen anywhere, but certain areas are especially prone to serious flooding. Use flood maps to know your risk:…/flooding_…/understanding_flood_maps.jsp

Just a few inches of water can cause thousands of dollars in damage. Standard homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flooding. Be Flood Smart – Buy Flood Insurance for your home and assets.

For more information on flooding and flood insurance,

Sept. 15:

Fact of the Day: Montana has the highest number of recorded ice jams in the Continental US. Over 1,700 ice jams have been reported in Montana since 1894!

Fluctuating winter temperatures can cause ice break-ups on frozen rivers and streams. Ice chunks can jam and cause flooding upstream, or release suddenly and send a surge of water downstream.

Be prepared for flooding and ice jams if you live near a river or stream:
• Keep a safe distance from any ice jam
• Have an emergency kit ready if your home gets isolated due to flooding
• Have a plan for where to go and who to call if you have to evacuate quickly

Flooding damages from ice jams can be covered by flood insurance. A 30-day wait applies before a flood insurance policy becomes

For more information on ice jams, visit:

ice jam

Sept. 16:

The more stress we have, the less productive our immune system can be. So when a disaster occurs, the risk of getting sick increases. Fortunately, many diseases that can spread in a disaster are preventable.

Getting sick during an emergency can make a bad situation worse; so, in the event of a disaster: 
• Make sure to wash your hands regularly 
• Maintain good hygiene 
• Use purified/clean water
• Cook and store food properly

Before a disaster, make sure you are up-to-date on all of your vaccinations.

For more information about diseases which may arise in a Montana Disaster, visit:…/…/YourPreparedness/BeInformed.aspx

Sept. 17:

Land that was recently burned by a wildfire is called a “burn scar.” When rain falls over a burn scar, the ground is unable to absorb much of the water. The rainfall runs across the burned land, quickly collecting in the lowest area, resulting in ‪#‎FlashFlooding‬. If you live, work or are hiking or vacationing near an area affected by a wildfire, keep in mind it will not take much rainfall to cause flooding. Even areas that aren’t traditionally flood prone are at risk, due to changes to the landscape caused by fire.

Be ‪#‎FloodSmart‬ – Reduce your risk:
• Make an emergency kit
• Plan evacuation routes
• Elevate appliances, water heaters, furnaces
• Keep important papers in a safe, waterproof place
• Buy flood insurance

For more information, visit:…/flooding_…/flood_after_fire.jsp

Sept. 18:

As we finish our ‪#‎flood‬ focused week for ‪#‎NatlPrep‬ month, here are a few reminders of how to prepare your home for floods along with some items to keep in your emergency supply kit.

For more information, visit: or

Basement_Flood_Infographic Disaster_Kit_Infographic

Week 4:  Earthquakes

Sept. 21:

An ‪#‎earthquake‬ could occur at any time in Montana, so it’s important for you and your family to be prepared.

To learn more about earthquake preparedness,

For more information about National Preparedness Montana,

NPM2015_Infographic_Earthquake_Slide1 NPM2015_Infographic_Earthquake_Slide2 NPM2015_Infographic_Earthquake_Slide3

Sept. 22:

One of the best ways to prepare for ‪#‎earthquakes‬ is by practicing what to do. An earthquake drill involves three basic steps:

1. Drop to the ground.
2. Cover yourself with a table or desk, and cover your head.
3. Hold on (until the shaking stops).

Join thousands of Montanans on Oct. 21st at 10:21am for the Great Montana ‪#‎ShakeOut‬, a statewide earthquake drill. Register and find more information at:

Sept. 23:

Major ‪#‎earthquakes‬ can cause widespread power outages. If the power is out for multiple hours, perishable food in your refrigerator and freezer may not be safe to consume. Review the infographic to learn what to keep and what to toss.

For more information about earthquakes,

For more information about health and food safety during disasters, visit:

poweroutage food safety

Sept. 24:

Because ‪#‎earthquakes‬ happen without warning, it's important to have emergency supply kit materials at home, work, and in your car. Here are 10 suggested items to keep on hand.

For more information about preparing for earthquakes, visit:

For more information about ‪#‎NatlPrep‬ Month, visit:

earthquake kit supplies

Week 5:  Lead up to National PrepareAthon Day of Action on 9/30


To learn more about National Preparedness Month, visit


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