It’s been heartbreaking to watch hurricanes, floods and wildfires decimate homes and livelihoods for our fellow Americans in recent weeks and months. Considering that most of these natural disasters are far from us, it’s easy to think we won’t find ourselves in similar situations but that’s a false assumption.

According to Michigan Prepares, our state is subject to disease outbreaks, earthquakes, extreme heat, floods, thunderstorms, tornadoes, wildfires and winter weather. Just this summer, many of us have experienced more than one power outage with some lasting for several days at a time.

As we head into a new season, it’s an ideal time to take stock of our personal emergency preparedness. September is National Preparedness Month and federal emergency management officials have designated 2021’s theme as “Prepare to Protect. Preparing for disasters is protecting everyone you love.”

There are plenty of resources available to help individuals and families decide how to best prepare for natural disasters or other emergencies and it appears most Americans have taken steps to do just that. A 2017 American Housing Survey asked U.S. residents how prepared they were for disasters and the majority of respondents had sufficient emergency water and non-perishable food supplies, prepared an emergency evacuation kit and had enough funds in the event of an evacuation.

The survey showed that respondents weren’t so prepared in other areas, like having an emergency meeting location or creating a communications plan that included a contingency for the disruption of cell phone service. We are so dependent on mobile phones these days but it’s imperative to consider that networks could be down or disrupted in any kind of incident. How then would you communicate with family or friends?

Pets are an important part of our families these days too so emergency kits should include the necessary food, medicine or other supplies they need.

Although planning for the unknown can be frightening especially for young children, families are encouraged to involve youngsters in creating an emergency kit or communication plan so they understand what can be done to keep them and others safe.

Please do what you can this month to “Prepare to Protect” your loved ones.