Emergency Preparedness: Are You Ready?

Disasters can strike anywhere at just about any time reminding us of the power of Mother Nature. The question is: are you ready? The good news is that schools, organizations, faith-based organizations and businesses across the country are stepping up their disaster preparedness efforts. However, the majority of Americans still aren’t nearly as prepared as they ought to be.

That is where America’s PrepareAthon! comes in. America’s PrepareAthon! is a grassroots, community-based campaign for action to increase community preparedness and resilience. The goal is to increase the number of individuals who understand their local disaster risks, know what to do to be safe and mitigate damage, take action to increase preparedness, and participate in community resilience planning. America’s PrepareAthon! provides resources and opportunities for individuals, organizations, and communities to prepare for specific hazards through group discussions, drills, and exercises.  

When people prepare and practice for an emergency in advance of the event, it makes a real difference in their ability to take immediate and informed action, which, in turn, enables them to recover more quickly. Participation in drills and exercises helps to establish “muscle memory” that will spur quick and effective action during a real emergency.

If you haven’t joined in, now’s your time. Here are a few tips that can help you in preparing for disasters:

  1. Sign up for local text alerts and warnings and download weather apps to your smartphone so that you can stay aware if the weather gets worse. Visit ready.gov/prepare and download Be Smart: Know Your Alerts and Warnings to learn how to search for local alerts and weather apps that are relevant for hazards that affect your area. Download the FEMA app for disaster resources, weather alerts and safety tips. Earlier this month, FEMA launched a new feature to its free smartphone app that will enable users to receive push notifications to their devices to remind them to take important steps to prepare their homes and families for disasters. The app also provides a customizable checklist of emergency supplies, maps of open shelters and open recovery centers, tips on how to survive natural and manmade disasters, and weather alerts from NWS for up to five locations across the nation.
  2. Gather important documents and keep them in a safe place. Have all your personal, medical, and legal papers in one place, so you can evacuate without worrying about gathering your family’s critical documents at the last minute. Visit ready.gov/prepare and download the Be Smart: Protect Your Critical Documents and Valuables.
  3. Develop an emergency communication plan for your family. It’s possible that your family will be in different locations when a disaster strikes. Come up with a plan so everyone knows how to reach each other and get back together if separated. Visit ready.gov/prepare and download the Be Smart: Family Emergency Communications Plan and Wallet Cards.
  4. Create an emergency supply kit. Be prepared for bad weather by creating an emergency supply kit for your family. Visit ready.gov/kit for more ideas of what to include in your kit. Consider creating a kit for your pet too, with items like pet food, bottled water, medications, and food dishes. And make sure to have a secure pet carrier, leash, or harness for your pet. Watch the short video below featuring the First Family’s dogs, Bo and Sunny, for more tips on how to prepare your pet for an emergency.

As we work to build a more prepared nation, it’s important to acknowledge that there’s more we can all do at home, at work and in our community to be in a stronger position to respond when disaster strikes.  Don’t wait until it’s too late.

For more information about preparedness activities in your area, or if you want to register an activity with America’s PrepareAthon!, please visit ready.gov/prepare.