We’ve had drought, wildfires, a spring blizzard, damaging hail and flooding in Kansas this year, and it’s just the end of August. If your home or office was affected by a disaster, would you have an accurate record of what you lost? Would you easily know who to report it to and how to reach them? Would you know when, where and how much to pay for regular bills which still are due even if your property is damaged or destroyed?

Prepare Kansas 2017, an online challenge to all Kansans and others available through the K-State Research and Extension Facebook page, will guide you through steps to be more prepared for emergencies. We also will share information, links and resources that can make recovery smoother and faster.

The Prepare Kansas social media campaign will run through September to coincide with National Disaster Preparedness Month, coordinated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Prepare Kansas this year will help you take steps to be more financially prepared in case of emergencies, plus it’s a good way to stay organized in your day-to-day life. So, follow “K-State Research and Extension” on Facebook and join in to learn more. Here are the topics which will be featured during each week in September.

Week 1: You don’t know where to get back to if you don’t know where you started, right? This week’s challenge takes you step-by-step through preparing a household inventory, a critical step in case of emergency, but also valuable for estimating insurance needs and documenting ownership anytime.

Week 2: Things change. Circumstances change. Know the right questions to ask as you review homeowner’s or renter’s insurance and auto insurance coverage.

Week 3: If you had a few precious minutes to leave your home or office, what would you take? Learn the basics about what to include in a grab-and-go kit to help get you back on firm financial footing more quickly after a disaster.

Week 4: Communication is key. The final Prepare Kansas weekly challenge is to develop and practice a family emergency communication plan.

The Prepare Kansas Facebook Challenge will be interactive, with information and resources to help individuals and families be better prepared and the opportunity for participants to comment on their own experiences and what they’re doing for personal and community preparedness.

You also can learn more at the free noon-hour program “Disaster Preparedness for Home, Family and Furry Friends” at noon Sept. 14 at the Cottonwood District Extension Office, 601 Main in Hays. Extension agents Alicia Boor and myself will present information on preparing a disaster survival kit and grab-and-go kit for people and pets. The Prepare Kansas campaign runs during September, but K-State Research and Extension provides emergency preparedness information on many topics throughout the year on the Prepare Kansas blog at blogs.k-state.edu/preparekansas.

Instead of just hoping to avoid a disaster, it is important to put some time and thought into preparing for the possibility. In case of emergency, you’ll be glad you planned ahead.

Linda K. Beech is Cottonwood District Extension agent for family and consumer sciences.