September is National Preparedness Month — and it’s the perfect time to organize a community “PrepareAthon.” Rest assured, that’s not the same as waiting for doomsday. We’re just talking about taking smart steps to help you and your neighbors be ready in the event of a natural disaster.

Because despite growing concern over extreme weather events, an Esurance survey found that the vast majority of us are ill-prepared for them.

There’s value in being informed. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recently conducted a survey to measure household and individual preparedness and found that those who’d been exposed to information on how to prepare for a natural disaster were significantly more likely to have taken steps to safeguard their home and family.

They say it “takes a village,” and no time is that more applicable than during a crisis. So why not take the lead in getting your village ready to work together? Here’s how.

1. Host your neighbors for a low-key get together

Don’t create panic or gloom and doom. The purpose is to get to know one another and talk about preparation. Consider hosting a potluck that includes some eat and greet time, followed by a short presentation.

2. Invite a speaker knowledgeable about natural disaster response

Your local American Red Cross, police, fire station, or city council can likely help you identify a representative who can give a short talk on how households can prepare. They can cover the items that should be in an emergency kit, along with best practices for communicating after a disaster.

3. Collect contact information

Speaking of communication, take the time to collect information for each household present. Create a master list that includes each person’s home address, email, contact numbers, and how many are in the family (pets too!).

4. Make special note of your neighbors

Assign someone to check in on anyone who’s older or has special needs in case of a natural disaster (or even extreme heat and cold).

5. Create safety checklists for your neighbors

Encourage them to make their own family readiness plan using templates such as these. Even better, print copies of the templates to have on hand and set aside 15 minutes during your event to have families gather together and make their own plan. It’s a task that’s easy to push off but vital to accomplish.

6. Contact your city offices for local emergency numbers

Many school districts, cities, and other government agencies offer text messaging in case of emergency. Find out how to access the system and share the information with your neighbors.

7. Thank them for attending

Assure them you’ll keep them posted with the master list once you’ve compiled it.

8. Consider sending out monthly reminders

This is especially important during seasons of severe weather. And you might also include short safety tips with your reminders.

Whether you live in an area prone to earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, wildfires, or just severe winter weather, it’s smart to have a plan of attack. And at the top of that to-do list: having the right insurance. Get a quote today.

Safe and smart | Home safety


about Cathie

Cathie Ericson writes about personal finance, real estate, health, lifestyle, and business topics. When she's not writing she loves to read, hike, and run. Find her @CathieEricson.