It’s National Preparedness Month: Time to make emergency plans for the future

Emergency preparation tips

Create emergency plans for your family and tribal entity during National Preparedness Month

September is National Preparedness Month. Sponsored by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), the purpose of National Preparedness Month is to encourage us to create emergency plans for the future and take preparation steps, ahead of time, within our homes, businesses, schools, and communities.

FEMA has a nation-to-nation relationship with tribal governments and works with tribal officials to help communities be prepared before an emergency and recover after disaster strikes. Recognizing that many work and live on tribal lands located far from urban centers, FEMA lists special considerations to include as you make your emergency plans:

  • Communications: You need access to at least one traditionally wired land-line phone, since cordless or cell phones may not work in an emergency.
  • Transportation: Rural and reservation lands include locations without easy road access or public transportation. If you or someone you know doesn’t have a car, make alternate plans for transportation, such as riding with a neighbor.
  • Emergency shelters and food sites: Ask emergency planners for your tribe, village, or pueblo where these are typically situated, and make arrangements if they’re not close by.
  • Elders: Older people have special needs in emergency situations. Consider medicines or medical supplies that are used regularly. Talk to hospitals, medical clinics, and other service providers about emergency plans. If electricity is necessary to operate medical equipment, ask providers what to do during power outages. Enlist family and friends as a support network, share emergency plans, and make sure another family member or friend has a key to the home.
  • Livestock: Prearrange a location and make plans for transport if you keep horses, cattle, sheep, goats, or pigs. FEMA has more tips on protecting livestock.


Related: Fire prevention and safety tips for your tribal business


Each tribal government should develop its own plan for disaster or emergency plans. Ask your elected tribal leaders about the plan for your community. Additional sources for information include tribal law enforcement, tribal fire departments, emergency response services, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Indian Health Service clinics and hospitals.

Related: 5 areas where tribal business risk management can help


Create an emergency kit

If you were stranded in an emergency, do you and your family have everything you need at hand for at least three days? You may want to assemble your kit now in easy-to-carry bags or bins; consider keeping a second kit in the trunk of your car. Include medications, pet supplies, diapers, etc. Bring bottled water and non-perishable food items. A radio with extra batteries and important papers including your tribal ID, should be included.

Have alternate plans

Have an emergency plan to shelter in place, and one to evacuate. If hunkering down, do you have everything you need? If evacuating, what routes will you take? Have at least two different routes in mind. Also, decide on meeting places now, should the family be separated during the day by school and work locations.

Related: Tribal business disaster recovery plan: a back-up plan to keep you in business


Help your tribe prepare

If you are a tribal leader or work with your leaders, FEMA offers a variety of online and field courses for emergency planners, first responders, school administrators, and others who may play a role in your tribe’s emergency response. Information and registration for all courses is found at

FEMA also provides no-cost training for tribal leaders, emergency planners, first responders, and others. The following courses are offered at FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute in Emmitsburg, MD.

  • Emergency Management Framework for Tribal Governments (E580) provides a basic understanding of emergency management principles and how those principles can be used to help develop and implement emergency management systems.
  • Emergency Management Operations for Tribal Governments (E581) helps tribal officials develop organizational structures, operational procedures, and resources for effective emergency management operations.
  • Mitigation for Tribal Officials (E344) covers FEMA’s disaster mitigation programs, tribal mitigation opportunities, and examples of mitigation success.

You may also want to consider getting involved with CERT (Community Emergency Response Teams). CERT can help you educate your people about disaster preparedness for hazards specific for your geographic area plus train them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization and disaster medical operations.

This infographic, provided by the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety along with the Insurance Information Institute, outlines safety steps to take before, during and after a disaster.

Emergency preparation tips for native tribes
Emergency preparation tips for native tribes