Is your family prepared for a disaster? - - Jackson, MS

Is your family prepared for a disaster?

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By Ashley Conroy - email

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - As Earl and other tropical systems brew in the Atlantic Wednesday, September 1st also marks the start of National Preparedness Month.

The American Red Cross and the Salvation Army say it's not only major disasters folks should be prepared for, but they should also be ready for any disaster that could affect one's family.

Captain Ken Chapman from the Salvation Army demonstrated what should go into a "disaster kit" if an emergency happens.  "Flashlights are always going to be needed, and to have some water and Gatorade," advised Chapman.

Captain Chapman says most importantly, people shouldn't wait until the last minute to get prepared.

"And you run to the stores and all the shelves are out of batteries, and flash lights and the things you need, then it's too late," Chapman said.

He recommends having a three-day supply of non-perishable items such as food and water in one's house, and to have cash on hand because after a disaster power is often out.

The Salvation Army also recommends to collect all important documentation such as social security cards, mortgage documents, and birth certificates.

The American Red Cross has a similar disaster ready plan, and they ask that citizens be aware of the their three-step motto:  Get a kit, be informed, and make a plan.

At their state headquarters in Jackson on Wednesday, they held a meeting for all officials throughout the state to generate ideas.

CEO of the American Red Cross-Mississippi Mark Smith says if everyone were disaster-ready prior to the Red Cross responding, then it could eliminate more problems down the road.

"Most of our work in the American Red Cross when we are responding, we are responding and assisting folks who have not been adequately prepared."

Preparedness and Response Director Jo Gibbons says discussing a disaster plan with your family is critical before something happens.

"Some ideas on how to make the plan for instance finding the best room in your house, which phone numbers are you going to call, where are you going to meet each other if you do get separated," said Gibbons.

Gibbons says preparing shouldn't take more than a few hours.  "If we spent just a few hours getting prepared that we would be so much more relaxed and able to manage a disaster," he said.

For more information on disaster readiness visit: or

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