OKLAHOMA CITY - September is National Preparedness Month, and the American Red Cross of Central and Western Oklahoma encourages Oklahomans to be prepared for any future emergencies.

Red Cross officials urge Oklahoma families to create a family disaster plan to make sure they are ready for the next emergency or disaster. Plans should include designating a meeting place right outside the home in case of a sudden emergency like a fire, an out-of-area emergency contact person and a location where everyone should meet if they can't go home.

All family members should work together on the emergency plan and each person should know how to reach other family members, officials said.

"Disasters can strike at any time and being prepared is a family's best defense," said Ken Garcia, Regional Director of Communications. "Making a plan is an important step in making sure all household members know what to do in an emergency."

Red Cross officials offered the following tips on how to be prepared:

Get a Kit- Have items readily available for a disaster. This can include water, medical supplies, important documents (deeds, prescriptions, birth certificates, etc.), contact information, cash, cell phone and personal items.

Make a Plan- Meet with family to discuss how to prepare for emergencies. This isn't just at home. This can also be where you learn, work and play. Create a meeting location. Work out a plan for pets (look for pet-friendly hotels and animal shelters) and possible evacuation routes. Practice twice a year with your evacuation plan and drive the routes to see if there are other alternatives.

Be Informed- Stay up to date with what is going on. This can be through TV, Radio and internet. It's best to have a battery powered radio as power loss is possible. Keep a weather radio for updates. Know your region and the disasters likely for your area. Oklahoma deals with strong storms, tornadoes, wildfires, heat, flood and others. Know emergency life saving techniques such as CRP and first aid.

The Red Cross also provides a variety of tools to help people make or update plans:

The Red Cross has several programs to help people, businesses, schools and communities be better prepared:

Be Red Cross Ready: an online tutorial that teaches people to be ready for emergencies.

Red Cross Ready Rating™: a free, web-based membership program that measures how ready businesses, organizations and schools are to deal with emergencies and helps them improve their readiness level.

Ready When the Time Comes program: this program trains employees from businesses so they can be used as a community-based volunteer force when disaster strikes.

Red Cross First Aid and CPR/AED training courses: these courses provide participants with the knowledge and skills to respond to emergencies in case advanced medical help is delayed.