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What would you do if there was a terrorist attack or a natural disaster near your work place, or your home? How would you react? Where would you go? How would you keep your family safe?

For the second year in a row, the Department of Homeland Security and the American Red Cross are using the month of September Ð National Preparedness Month Ð to help answer these questions by teaching Americans what simple steps they need to take to prepare for any emergency.

Throughout the month, there will be hundreds of events held across the United States, in every state and territory, to help increase public awareness about the importance of being prepared for emergencies in the home, work place and school.

Experts say that everyone should create a kit, make a plan, be informed and get involved to prepare for an emergency.

The emergency kits should contain enough items that a family could survive for at least three days. Essential items like batteries, food, water, blankets, extra medications and other items should be kept in an easy to carry container like a backpack or a duffle bag. These containers should be kept in an easily accessible location.

The American Red Cross recommends involving children with emergency kit building. Not only will it teach them what to do in case of an emergency, but it will also give the children an opportunity to add items they would want to the kits, such as certain toys and books.

It is important to not forget items for pets in the emergency kits. Extra litter, litter boxes, newspapers, paper towels and sanitation products should be included in case pets can not be taken outside. Familiar toys and food should also be kept on hand to help reduce stress for the pets.

In addition to an emergency kit, a personal plan should be made that covers communication, evacuation and shelter plans along with an emergency phone contacts list.

Kits and plans are a start to preparedness, but to be fully prepared learn about the local community's response. Get involved in a neighborhood group and make disaster preparedness an important activity. Learn CPR and First Aid - the Red Cross offers courses geared towards communities that would be invaluable in the case of an emergency.

For more information on how to prepare for an emergency, visit www.ready.gov/npm, the official Web site of National Preparedness Month or www.redcross.org/preparedness, the Red Cross' Web site on preparing for an emergency.

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