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Communication is Key to Preparation

September is National Preparedness Month, a time set aside each year to raise awareness about the importance of preparing for disasters and emergencies.

Throughout the month, The University of Alabama will share tips to help you prepare.

Communicating and working together are vital ways to be prepared in an emergency.

Preparation starts with communication. Talk to your family, roommates, office colleagues and friends about emergency preparedness. Work together to create a plan for your home, apartment or office.

Decide before a disaster happens which family members or friends you will contact. Most smartphones will allow you to designate numbers as emergency contact numbers. You should also memorize their numbers as you may not have your mobile phone to rely on. Visit ready.gov for a communication plan template that you can use.

In an emergency, it may be better to text instead of talking as phone lines may be damaged or tied up.

Share your emergency contact’s information with your roommates, coworkers and close friends in case you are unable to call or text from your phone.

In an emergency, it is natural to want to help others, but you do not want to hinder the crucial work of first responders. Preparing to help before a disaster or an emergency can ensure you work with emergency workers, not against them.

Here are some ways you can get involved:

  • Volunteer and receive training to support disaster and preparedness efforts where you live.
  • Join a Community Emergency Response Team, or CERT, program and get trained on basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization and disaster medical operations. Learn more about Tuscaloosa County’s CERT program.
  • During a disaster, donate to organizations that are actively helping. The National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster provides a list of reputable organizations.
  • When a disaster strikes your community, realize that you are the help until the help arrives. Learn five simple steps that may save someone’s life.


Shane Dorrill, UA Strategic Communications, shane.dorrill@ua.edu