FEMA stresses importance of family planning for natural disasters in Wisconsin

(WZAW) -- Disasters can strike at any time. This September, during National Preparedness Month, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Ad Council are raising awareness of preparedness and promoting the importance of preparing children and teenagers for possible emergencies and disasters.

Dan Alexander, the field operations deputy assistant administrator with FEMA joined NewsChannel 7 at 4 via satellite on Tuesday to discuss why emergency planning is important for the entire family.

"Being a Wisconsin native myself, I know how the storms and the flooding really impacts the fine folks back in Wisconsin," Alexander said. "I think our big message as we enter preparedness month, is that there are a number of preparedness activities you can take, especially as it relates to the cost of disaster recovery."

He said having access to cash, especially since ATM machines might be down due to storms, can go a long way in the short-term recovery period.

"There are several other steps you can take. Insurance, obviously, is the biggest one," he added."The more initiative you can take pre-disaster, the better off you will be in recovering from those disasters."

Alexander said taking some of the simple planning steps is really important, including making sure your family is all aware of what the plan is if the worst weather happens.

"Even having a disaster preparedness kit with 3-7 days worth of food, water, making sure you have your medicines that are appropriate for the family. Even establishing that you have a communications plan," he advised. "Many times we see in a disaster, the family is separated. They're at work.. school. And so understanding when an event occurs, how is it that you're going to communicate, where is it that you're going to meet at predesignated locations, so the family can reunite."

He said this year's campaign is focused on the youngest members of families.

"Kids are such a critical part and aspect of disaster preparedness. We encourage doing exercises and drills with the family so that they know where to go, what is the agreed upon plan, that they know what relative to call if they're separated and they can't get a hold of mom or dad."

The theme of the campaign this year is "Prepared, not scared".

"This is a family discussion and a family planning effort," Alexander added."Obviously disasters are very impactful and cause hardship for anybody, but there are things we can do as a family, the children included, to minimize those impacts.

More information, including ways to prepare your family for a disaster, can be found on www.disaster.gov