The effects of Hurricane Isaac floods left more than 40 percent of Louisiana without power, and storm surges from the latest U.S. natural disaster continue to move from the Gulf Coast to up and down the East Coast.

Craig Fugate, administrator at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, walks withSenator Mary Landrieu, D-La.

Craig Fugate, administrator at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, walks with Senator Mary Landrieu, D-La., before a press conference addressing Hurricane Isaac. The agency sponsors National Preparedness Month, which utilizes more than 3,000 organizations to help Americans prepare for emergency. Photo by Patsy Lynch, courtesy FEMA

It’s a timely, crucial moment to stress the importance of readiness in case of disaster. In 2004, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention designated September as “National Preparedness Month.” The observance, sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency,  asks Americans a simple question: Would you be ready if there were an emergency?

Throughout the month, more than 3,000 organizations nationwide are supporting efforts to help Americans prepare in case of emergency. APHA’s Get Ready campaign organizes “Get Ready Day” on the third Tuesday of the month to help all Americans prepare themselves, their families and their communities for disasters and hazards, including pandemic flu, infectious disease and natural disasters. This year’s event will take place Sept. 18.

The CDC initiative focuses on family preparedness in homes, back-to-school prevention, business preparedness and a special effort to improve preparedness among Spanish-speaking Americans, which includes translations on its website.

Agency recommendations include four simple steps:

  • get an emergency kit, including water and food supplies;
  • make a plan for emergency contact communication, in case family and friends are separated during a disaster;
  • be informed by checking media for global, national and local information; and
  • get involved by taking response training like first aid or volunteering to support local first responders

Find answers to important preparedness questions, including what to do during a disaster and how to fight against infectious diseases, with APHA Get Ready Q&As.