Remember when you were a kid in school and there was a fire drill? Some of us thought it was fun to go outside in the middle of class, some of us were scared, and most of us hated that LOUD fire alarm.

Why do schools have fire drills? So everyone knows what to do in case there’s a fire, right? What about you at home? It’s not just fire that could strike. Between 1980 and 2010, the US experienced 24 earthquakes, 392 storms, and 132 floods. In 2012, there were more than 450 weather-related fatalities and nearly 2,600 injuries.

Despite multiple campaigns and awareness efforts, in 2012 FEMA found that only 39 percent of individuals reported having a household emergency plan that included instructions for household members about where to go and what to do in the event of a disaster.

Has your family decided where you will meet if your home experiences a fire, explosion, flood, or direct hit from a storm? It’s important to choose a place to gather to take a headcount. Pick a place that is far enough away from the house that you wouldn’t be in danger of a fire, and a place that would be out of the way of fire and medical crews arriving. If you live alone, tell your neighbors where you will go if something like that happens, so they can quickly find you. Your neighbors can then get you any help you need.

Please call Lynn Royer at Dallas County Public Health (515-993-3750) for more information on a national community-based campaign called America’s PrepareAthon! that provides preparedness guides and resources to help workplaces, schools, houses of worship, and community-based organizations specific preparedness activities necessary to stay safe before, during, and after an emergency or disaster.