September is Preparedness Month

by Renee-Marie Smith

When Irene struck last year, many people were caught completely off-guard. My husband and I were fortunate that we didn’t suffer any damage, but things could have been a lot worse because we really were not prepared. We didn’t have television or radio at our apartment, but thank goodness we had internet and I had been following the storm online, thanks to The Weather Channel’s live streaming coverage on their website.

When the storm hit – I gathered our 2 pet carriers by the front door, just in case. At the time, we had 3 cats and 1 large elderly dog. My husband walked the dog in the rain, and even though we could see the water level rising in the West River behind our apartment, we didn’t think we would have to go anywhere. We didn’t think the water would get very far – maybe a few inches in the parking lot. We continued our day in our second-story apartment, oblivious to what was going on outside, until our neighbor knocked on the door and said we might want to move the car because the water was already to the bottom of the door.

At that point, panic struck and we decided it would be best to leave. We had no idea where we would go, and we had absolutely nothing packed. We literally threw a few clothes in a suitcase, shoved our laptops in their cases, grabbed the animals (2 cats in 1 carrier, 1 cat in the other) … My husband moved the car and began to carry items to the car, including our elderly dog, with some help from our neighbors. By the time I made my way down the stairs, another person was there to help me walk to the car with hip-deep water rushing all around me … let me tell you, I was SCARED!

Our family survived, and our apartment had no damage at all, but I’ve learned from that experience to be as prepared as possible, and since we’ve just purchased our first house in Vermont, I am certainly going to make sure we are prepared! Here are some excellent tips on what to do to get prepared. Please comment and add your own tips too!


Preparedness Month in Vermont – Tropical Storm Irene a Stark Reminder of the Importance of Being Ready for Disasters

As the one year anniversary of Tropical Storm Irene passes, now is a good time to consider whether or not you are ready for Vermont’s next disaster. To that end, Governor Peter Shumlin has declared September to be Preparedness Month in the state of Vermont

Disasters can and do happen at any time in Vermont, and we see it all; snow storms, floods, droughts, chemical spills, and others. You can’t always avoid them, but being prepared can help mitigate the effects of these events on you, your family, or your business. September is Preparedness Month in Vermont and nationwide, an effort to encourage Americans to take simple steps to prepare for emergencies in their homes, businesses, and schools.

The most important part of preparedness is taking the first steps to help you and your loved ones ride out the next disaster.

1. Assemble a kit of emergency supplies that will allow you and your family to survive for at least three days in the event an emergency occurs. The kit should include basic items like water, food, battery-powered radio, flashlight, over the counter fever and pain relievers, and a first aid kit. A complete list can be found in the Vermont Emergency Management Family Disaster Preparedness Workbook. You can download a copy, or get a hard copy by calling VEM at (800) 347-0488.

2. Plan in advance what you and your family will do in an emergency. This should include a communications plan through an out-of-state relative, an evacuation route, and the location of emergency shelters in your community.

3. Learn more about different threats that could affect your community and appropriate responses to them. Look into flood insurance if you are in a flood-prone area (

4. Learn the different weather terms used when advising of adverse conditions ( :
a. Advisory: Adverse weather conditions are expected
b. Watch: Severe weather is possible in the next day or two
c. Warning: Severe weather conditions have begun or will begin very soon.

5. After preparing yourself and your family for possible emergencies, take the next step: get training in first aid and emergency response and get involved in preparing your community by volunteering for a local emergency response agency or your local CERT (

Vermont Emergency Management distributes its Emergency Preparedness workbooks to anyone who wants one. Communities wishing to give out copies at municipal offices or events can get multiple prints by contacting VEM at 800-347-0488 or [email protected].

For more information on Preparedness Month and for more preparedness tips, go to or”

Article by the Vermont Department of Public Safety, Found on

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