September has been designated National Preparedness Month, coinciding with the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
From Pottawattamie County Emergency Management to the Red Cross to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, officials are urging citizens to make a plan in case a disaster strikes.
"We're just trying to remind people to have a plan in place for if an emergency happens," said Alyson Westby Roach. "Maybe that's a power outage. Maybe it's a weather event. It could be a man-made disaster, too," she said.
This month, the Red Cross is running a contest, offering anyone who goes to their website to fill out a family plan, online, a chance to win an iPad. FEMA is sending out tweets with strategies like, "In case of a blackout, keep plastic containers of water in your fridge & freezer to help keep food cold for several hours #NatlPrep."
The basics, agencies say, include a three day supply of both food and water for every member of the family, changes of clothing, extra shoes, flashlights, battery-powered radio, extra batteries, toiletries including diapers and a seven-day supply of necessary medications. Two statements showing a home address are a good idea to have on-hand, for proof of residency. And, the Red Cross recommends having a copy of some form of identification.
Westby Roach said we shouldn't underestimate the importance of activities for small children. "In the event of a disaster, you're stressed. They're stressed," she said. If children are occupied, it helps calm situations. "Then you can figure out your next step," she said.
Pottawattamie County Emergency Management is among the agencies using this month as a platform to raise awareness. They're distributing calendars with daily strategies families can use to get ready for a disaster. They also have an emergency response class scheduled for September 18.