As we say good-bye to 2019 and hello to 2020, make this year your best.

Maybe you have resolutions to quit a bad habit or form new ones. Maybe this is the year you’ll buy a new house or pay off that credit card.

Whatever it is you are hoping 2020 will bring you, make getting yourself and your family prepared for emergencies a priority.

Let the students at Falls City High School be an example. A group of them are taking a course through the Community Emergency Management Team, learning how to care for each other and their families in case of an emergency. Falls City would likely lose power. Roads may be unaccessible. The youths decided they wanted to be able to help their community in case no first responders were available.

Those who live in larger Polk County cities may feel more secure, but we must not rest in our quest for being prepared. Even Dallas is rural compared to Salem. If the bridge on Highway 22 goes out for some reason — or, in the case of an emergency, gets so crowded it is not feasible to cross quickly — we must be more self-reliant as a community.

That starts at home. The more each of us is prepared in our own homes, the more we’ll be able to help each other in case of tragedy or natural disaster or other emergency. By training with the Polk County CERT program, you will also learn how to best help each other and local first responders.

Practice makes perfect when developing new habits, and being prepared is no exception. Have a plan of action for your family: Where will you meet? How will you communicate? And practice it. Pick up an extra can or two of those beans when they’re on sale, and soon you’ll have a food storage set up. Take a class on CPR, or brush up on your skills with the latest methods.

Of all the things you will do in 2020, if you take the time to be prepared and learn to help your family and neighbors, it will bring you peace of mind for years to come.

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