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Preparing for disaster

September is designated as National Disaster Preparedness Month. While this designation might be more timely for fall hurricane season in the East rather than our Kansas tornado season, being prepared for disaster is good advice at any time of year. In fact, we can take advantage of our relatively mild weather now to plan ahead for future emergencies.

Disasters can be devastating, not only to property, but also to family emotions. But being prepared in advance will help to ease the emotional impact of a disaster and improve your ability to survive and recover.

You can learn how to plan ahead for disaster at the free Extension program "Get Financially Prepared: Take Steps Ahead of Disaster" at noon Tuesday at the Ellis County Extension office meeting room, 601 Main. Register by calling the Extension at (785) 628-9430. Bring a lunch to enjoy during the program, if desired.

Many of us have taken steps to protect our home and families from emergencies. We've purchased first aid kits and fire extinguishers, installed smoke alarms and dead-bolt locks. Some of us might have stocked some extra food and water or prepared a basic emergency supply kit. But what about your financial emergency preparedness -- would you have the records and documents needed to recover if your home was damaged or destroyed?

Guest speaker Jamie Rathbun, Ellsworth County Extension agent, said to be financially prepared there are steps that can -- and should -- be taken now to protect your family and your possessions. Her presentation, along with an informational publication from K-State Research and Extension, encourages Kansans to make a home inventory, review insurance coverage and prepare a "financial grab-and-go kit" to protect important information in the event of a devastating storm or evacuation.

Disasters are unpredictable and devastating to lives and property. Instead of just hoping to avoid a disaster, it is important to put some time and attention into preparing for the possibility. In case of emergency, you'll be glad you planned ahead.

Linda Beech is a Kansas State University Research & Extension agent in Ellis County specializing in family and consumer sciences.

lbeech@ksu.edu