Fires rage across Oregon. Floods and storms pound other areas of the U.S. We hear about evacuation orders and we wonder, “What would I do?” How would I keep myself and my family safe?

For people with lower incomes, people with disabilities, or older people the threat of disaster can be even scarier.

It’s National Preparedness Month so we wanted to share 5 tips that will help you get prepared to be safe.

1. Do One Thing to Take Small Steps to Prepare helps you to do one small thing every month. You just have to visit the website, sign up for email alerts and every month they’ll send you the one thing to do. It’s easy and it helps spread out costs. 

2. Get Local Disaster Alerts for Free

PublicAlerts sends landline phone, mobile phone, text, and email alerts to Multnomah County residents. We use the system to warn you to take action to stay safe, such as staying indoors or evacuating during an emergency like fires, floods, and earthquakes. 

3. Build Your Support Network

If you are a person with a disability has recommendations, including “Create a Personal Support Network: If you anticipate needing assistance during a disaster, make a list of family, friends, and others who will be part of your plan. Talk to these people and ask them to be part of your support network.” The site has much more advice, including recommendations for various disabilities like low vision, speech disability, or a mobility disability. 

4. Get Your Benefits Electronically

Once again, here’s what has to say about preparing for a disaster as an older person:

A disaster can disrupt mail service for days or weeks. If you depend on Social Security or other regular benefits, switching to electronic payments is a simple, significant way to protect yourself financially before disaster strikes. It also eliminates the risk of stolen checks. The U.S. Department of the Treasury recommends two safer ways to get federal benefits:

  • Direct deposit to a checking or savings account. Federal benefit recipients can sign up by calling (800) 333-1795 or sign up online
  • The Direct Express® prepaid debit card is designed as a safe and easy alternative to paper

5. Get Water!!

Getting water is covered in all the other resources, but it can’t be emphasized enough. OPB has some tips, including buying, not bottling your water: “You can buy a one-gallon jug for $0.69 at many grocery stores.  Thus, a two week supply of water for at least two years shelf time would cost approximately $10 per person.”

Bonus: Let’s Take Care of One Another

Lastly, make sure we’re taking care of one another. If you know someone who might need your help in a disaster reach out to them now - say hello. Give emergency kits to people who count on you. Do anything. And if you have the time and ability, consider participating in Neighborhood Emergency Teams (NETs).

If recent events have taught us anything, it’s that we never know when the next disaster could happen.