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Staying informed of changing weather conditions, having a plan in case disaster strikes and putting together an emergency kit are among the things that agencies recommend you do to prepare for just such an event.

September is National Preparedness Month.

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On its website, the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene says, "If you've seen the news recently, you know that emergencies can happen unexpectedly in communities just like yours, to people like you. We've seen tornado outbreaks, river floods and flash floods, historic earthquakes, tsunamis, and even water main breaks and power outages in U.S. cities affecting millions of people for days at a time.

"Police, fire and rescue may not always be able to reach you quickly in an emergency or disaster. The most important step you can take in helping your local responders is being able to take care of yourself and those in your care; the more people who are prepared, the quicker the community will recover."

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Key to that is being prepared.

Having an emergency kit handy with enough supplies to last a few days is one of the main things that residents can do. Water, food, flashlights and batteries, a radio and first aid items are among the supplies that should be included in the kit.

You also need a plan for you and family members in your care. Know where in the house you will go or, if you are in different locations, how you will communicate so that others in your family know you are safe.

Several government and non-profit websites can assist in both formulating a plan and assembling an emergency kit.

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Ready.gov, a national public service advertising campaign which aims to educate people to prepare for and respond to emergencies, is one resource. On its website, ready.gov notes that in the decade between 2003 and 2013, there were 50 percent more disasters declared than in the previous decade.

Here and around the state, we've experienced severe storms, tornadoes and flooding over the summer months. In winter, we've gone through extremes when we had to deal with massive accumulations. In a lot of instances power outages were widespread and lasted for days.

These days, there is no excuse to not be prepared for a natural or man made disaster. Keeping tabs on the weather reports provides advance warning, and the more we do ahead of time to prepare the better off we will be in the event a disaster strikes.

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