As we continue our special series on National Preparedness Month (NPM), officials all around the state want you and your family to be ready for anything.

Emergency Kit (Flickr User KOMUnews)

We all learned the hard way last year that New Jersey can experience a wide range of disasters that can literally cripple all of us as well as our infrastructure. Staying one step ahead can make all the difference in a time of crisis. With all the personal stories that came from Superstorm Sandy, it's almost certain that we will be ready for the next issue, large or small.

New Jersey remains in the cross hairs for several types of disasters, either natural or manmade. As NPM continues, today we focus on the importance of making a plan.  Knowing what to do before, during and after an event is vital to you and your family's safety.

Leslie Terjesen at the Ocean County Health Department said a key component is communication among all of the members of the household and even people in your extended family. It's also a good idea to consult with friends and co-workers.

"It all starts with a talk and something as simple as a list of emergency contact numbers. Write them down and place them in a common area in the home that's easy to access. We want everyone to be up to speed on what to do in the event of an emergency. Sometimes, people aren't thinking clearly and that's where problems can arise," said Terjesen.

In your plan, discuss what your kids should do if there was an emergency while they're at school, find out your workplace plan and be sure to consider your pets, elderly neighbors or anyone with special needs.

Where would you go if an evacuation was ordered or if you need to seek shelter? That information can be provided by your community. If you have friends or relatives out of state, they can be a viable option if you need a place to go for either a short or extended period of time. As part of the plan, know all evacuation routes in your area and even alternate ones in case of flooding or other road hazards.

Due to Sandy last October, many people in the state who were directly affected or even those who just lived through it, are on edge about future disasters.

"Making a plan ahead of time can be beneficial so you don't have to panic. While not all disasters have warning signs attached, some do. Plan for anything just in case," said Terjesen.

In addition, you must plan for what happens when you do return home after needing to evacuate. Is the gas line in the home o.k.?  How about the water - is it safe to drink?  You can always contact public utilities and health officials if you're unsure.

For more information, visit The Ocean County Health Department's website. For specifics on how to be better prepared,visit FEMA's website.

Part 1:  September is National Preparedness Month:  Be Prepared