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It's hard to believe that it's almost fall again. It seems like just last week we were shoveling our vehicles out of snow and ice, stocking up at the grocery store for the next storm or making sure all the spring rain was not flooding our homes. It's certainly been a year of intense weather so far!

Now is the time to make sure you and your family are ready for fall and winter weather. The Emergency Preparedness Expo on Saturday, Sept. 27 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Carroll County Farm Museum in Westminster is the perfect place to learn more about being prepared. This free, annual event for families offers information and resources for getting prepared, with displays, live demonstrations, giveaways and more.

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September is also National Preparedness Month. For each week in September, Ready.gov focuses on a different aspect of emergency preparedness.

Sept. 1-7 teaches you "How to Reconnect with Family after a Disaster." Be sure that your family members know how to use text messaging on their phones, and know the number of an out-of-state family member or friend to contact. These options can be easier when local phone service is affected. Visit http://www.ready.gov/family-communications to learn more.

The theme for Sept. 8-14 is "Know How to Plan for Specific Needs before a Disaster." This is an important topic for all families, especially those with children, pets, disabled individuals or others with special medical needs who may need extra help during an emergency. For more information, see http://www.ready.gov/considerations.

Sept. 15-21 looks at "How to Build an Emergency Kit." Kits are vital to have after an emergency. You and your family might have to shelter at home without power or phone service for several days, while first responders help people in greater need. A smaller kit ("go kit") is important in case you need to evacuate. Have all family members help pack your kit, and include their favorite non-perishable foods.

To learn more about what to put in your kit, visit http://www.ready.gov/basic-disaster-supplies-kit. If you need help visualizing what your kit will look like and contain, the American Red Cross has an interactive site that guides you through making a plan and putting a kit together at http://www.arcbrcr.org.

The last few days, Sept. 22-30, show you "How to Practice for an Emergency." The Carroll County Health Department's Public Health Preparedness and Response program and the Carroll County Office of Public Safety and Support Services, Emergency Management work with local partners to practice for community emergencies; your family can practice your plans for evacuation and sheltering. The Carroll County Citizen's Guide to Emergency Preparedness is a comprehensive guide to preparing for local disasters: ccgovernment.carr.org/ccg/pubsafe/emer-prep.pdf.

Don't forget — to learn more about emergency preparedness, be sure to stop by the 2014 Emergency Preparedness Expo. For more information about the expo, call 410-386-2455. The Carroll County Office of Public Safety and Support Services also has a helpful Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/CCOPSSS for information on current public safety issues.

Hannah Krobock is an intern at the Carroll County Health Department. She is a senior at McDaniel College majoring in communications.

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