NATIONAL PREPAREDNESS MONTH
Helpful resources for times of trouble
If you’re reading this magazine, I assume you are an independent person who has taken primary responsibility for your own survival. You know that you are the first, and last, lines of defense for your own safety and security.
But we all appreciate a little help sometimes.
Catastrophic weather events—hurricanes, floods, wildfires, tornadoes, blizzards—can turn your town into a wasteland. Terrorist acts in the form of chemical, biological and radiological attacks are realistic possibilities these days. Emergency services (police, fire, EMS) are stretched to the limit in the aftermath of disasters.
Communities have to pull together; they must get involved. And, as much as we might be reluctant to admit it, sometimes, we even need the help of the federal government. Still, even under
the best circumstances, the response of government agencies to any disaster can still mean you’ll have to fend for yourself for a number of days, or perhaps longer, before help can reach you.
GETTING THE WORD OUT
You know this; and you’ve stockpiled supplies and created an emergency plan.
But what about your elderly grandmother or your disabled next-door neighbor? The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), now operating under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), wants your help in getting the word out to your friends and neighbors that we all need to be prepared for any number of calamities.
To do this, DHS has designated each September since 2004 as National Preparedness Month.
According to FEMA’S website, “September was chosen as National Preparedness Month, as the tragedies of September 11, 2001 highlighted to the nation the importance of being prepared. Also, September has been chosen partly because the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season is in mid-september.”
FEMA Spokesperson Stephanie Moffett noted that “National Preparedness Month (NPM) is a nationwide effort to increase public awareness about the importance of preparing for emergencies, including
“CERT MEMBERS LEARN ABOUT DISASTER-PREPAREDNESS FOR HAZARDS THAT MAY IMPACT THEIR AREA AND ARE TRAINED IN BASIC DISASTER-RESPONSE SKILLS … ”
natural disasters and potential terrorist attacks, and to encourage individuals to take action to prepare themselves and their families. National Preparedness Month promotes activities across the nation to encourage individuals to get an emergency supply kit, make a family emergency plan, become informed about different threats and get involved in preparing their communities for possible emergencies by hosting or supporting drills, exercises and discussions.”
While the drive to get the word out is an ongoing effort, everything is heightened during September.
“Each year, National Preparedness Month has an overarching theme, and for 2017, it will be ‘Don’t Wait. Communicate,’” Moffett added.
A GOOD WAY FOR A PERSON TO GET STARTED WITH EMERGENCY PREPARATIONS IS TO EXPLORE FEMA’S WEBSITE ... AT WWW. READY.GOV.
• Sign up for local text alerts and warnings, and download weather apps to your smartphone so you know when danger is approaching and can stay informed as you weather the storm in a safe place.
• Develop an emergency communication plan for your family. You might not be with your loved ones when disaster strikes, so have a communications plan in place so you know how to reach each other and where to meet up when conditions are safe.
• Develop an emergency plan for your pet. Have a go-bag with pet supplies (i.e., food and medication) in a safe place next to yours in case you and your pet have to leave in a hurry. If you have a pet sitter, make sure they know your plan, too.
“… THE TRUTH IS, WE’RE NOT POWERLESS— WE CAN TAKE ACTIONS NOW TO HELP PREPARE FOR THE WORST.”
GET THE APP
FEMA also provides ways for you to take its information and resources with you.
“We, at FEMA, continuously think about how we can get this potentially life-saving information to people as effectively as possible,” said Moffett. “We know many people bring their smartphones everywhere for entertainment and to stay up to date on breaking news; and the FEMA app helps us get preparedness information into the palms of their hands.”
According to Moffett, the FEMA app is available for free in the App Store for Apple devices and Google Play for Android devices.
“It provides tips (available with or without cell service) on what to do before, during and after emergencies and allows users to sign up for weather alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five different locations anywhere in the United States.”
The app also features a place to share disaster damage photos, includes an emergency kit checklist and provides directions to open shelters. You can find more information about the app features at www.fema.gov/mobile-app.
“Communities conduct Prepareathon events year-round with a focus on encouraging participants to take concrete actions, such as participating in a drill, exercise or discussion,” Moffett explained. “Prepareathon events are unique to each community and might be aligned to a particular theme in the Ready Campaign’s National Seasonal Preparedness Calendar. During NPM, FEMA celebrates outstanding community accomplishments through national-level recognition.”
FEMA also encourages the formation of Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT).
According to Moffett, “CERT members learn about disaster-preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and are trained in basic disaster-response skills, such as fire safety, light searchand-rescue, team organization and disaster medical operations. Using training learned in the classroom and during exercises, CERT volunteers can assist others in their community following a disaster when professional responders are not immediately available to help.”
More information on CERT activities is available at www.fema.gov/communityemergency-response-teams and www.ready.gov/get-involved.
“… THE FEMA APP IS AVAILABLE FOR FREE … IT PROVIDES TIPS … ON WHAT TO DO BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER EMERGENCIES … ”
“When neighborhoods are struck by a storm, many feel powerless,” said Moffett. “But the truth is, we’re not powerless—we can take actions now to help prepare for the worst.”
A member of a HAZMAT team sprays the burned remains of homes during a debris removal operation in Middletown, California, to prevent toxic chemicals from going airborne. (Photo: FEMA/ADAM Dubrowa)
Preparing an emergency kit should be a family event so that everyone knows what the kit contains and where it will be kept. (Photo: Fema/zachary Kittrie)
Emergency equipment is on display at the Marshfield, Massachusetts, Safety Day in 2014. Events such as this show citizens the range of emergency services available via various agencies for deployment during disasters. (Photo: FEMA/EILIS Maynard)
Below: FEMA officials take part in a Prepareathon event in New York City in 2015 to encourage people to prepare for possible emergency situations. (Photo: FEMA/K.C. Wilsey)
Below: Inspectors from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) check for potentially toxic contaminants after severe fires burned homes in Middletown, California, in 2015. (Photo: FEMA/ADAM Dubrowa)
Earthquakes, such as the 6.0 magnitude quake that hit Napa, California, in 2014, can have long-lasting, devastating effects. (Photo: FEMA/EILIS Maynard)
Communities decimated by a disaster often depend on volunteers to assist in distributing supplies to surviving residents. (Photo: Fema/jocelyn Augustino)
Readycampus events, sponsored by FEMA, give college students hands-on demonstrations to stress the need for education and preparedness for emergencies. (Photo: FEMA/STEVE Zumwalt)
A kit in a can: Red Cross Emergency Smartpacks are examples of ready-made, easy-to-store emergency supplies. (Photo: FEMA/ Steve Zumwalt) The National Guard is often called in to assist in supplying meals and drinking water to people in areas hard hit...