Free Your Space: Are You Prepared?

 “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, using its Federal Emergency Management Agency since 2004, has designated September as National Preparedness Month in the United States.

During this month, the National Preparedness Coalition strives to educate the public and raise the awareness of all American citizens so that we might each take steps toward being prepared for whatever emergencies will arise whether by a natural (hurricanes, tornados, fires and floods, etc.) or man-made (terrorism, nuclear…) occurrence.

The National Association of Professional Organizers as a coalition member, takes part by helping disseminate useful information to help keep the public informed and ready.

As a NAPO member, I would like to share five things that you can do this September so that, in the event of an emergency, you will feel and be better prepared.

Have a “What if?” conversation with at least two other people.  I have learned that one of the first and most difficult aspects of dealing with a crisis is managing one’s own reaction.  In so many cases there is little to no warning time before a disaster occurs.  Talking about what you might do in situations of electricity loss, extreme temperature conditions, food or water scarcity or transportation restrictions will help you to keep your cool if and when a situation does arise.

Create a Family Communications Plan. The very first thoughts my fellow organizers and I had when considering possible emergency situations were being able to communicate and gather our families.  Without trying to be an alarmist, talk to family members and significant others and make an agreement as to what procedure to follow for getting or staying connected.  Consider contingency plans for non-communication conditions.

Create an Emergency Grab & Go Bag.  A backpack serves well for this purpose, as it is easy to grab and leaves your arms free and maneuverable.  Extra vital prescription meds, flash light or headlamp and batteries, small first aid kit, a whistle, energy bars, water, lightweight emergency blanket, pen/pencil and notebook, candles & lighter, small amount of cash, a few family pictures are some of the basic supplies to include.  When considering the amount of each, FEMA recommends planning for 3 days.

Check your expiration dates.  Do an annual check of your supply bag.  Rotten food and dead batteries will not do you any good in an emergency.  Pack new batteries separately from your flashlight and replace the package each year, along with any medications, food or water provisions.

Sign up for your state’s emergency notification system.  As of this year (2013), all new cell phones will come with pre-installed Amber Alerts (child-abduction alert system), Severe Weather Warnings and Presidential Alerts.  Aside from these, it would serve you well to sign up for your local area alert system so that you might be fore-warned in the event of any emergency.  In Pennsylvania, go to to register.

Remember, waiting until you are driving in the rain is no time to get your windshield-wipers replaced.

* Annette Reyman is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO®) and President of its Greater Philadelphia Chapter. Visit her websites at and Follow All Right Organizing on Facebook.

To contact Annette Reyman for organizing work, professional unpacking, productivity support, gift certificates or speaking engagements call 610-213-9559 or email her at


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