National Preparedness Month: How will you empower the hero in you?

In disaster preparedness, anyone can be hero

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Heroes are ordinary people who are ready to handle the unexpected. Today could be the day you’re called on by a friend, family member or a complete stranger to assist them during a disaster – even save their life. Would you know what to do? As part of its continuing outreach for National Preparedness Month, FEMA Region VII wants you to be prepared to make that split-second decision during an emergency, and good decisions are often preceded with planning, preparation and practice. All heroes have strength and courage, but this may not be enough if you haven’t taken time to put preparedness into action.

Every good hero needs equipment.

From physical tools to being armed with information, preparedness is about assembling resources most critical to preparing for, responding to and recovering from disasters. If your home was destroyed and you were suddenly displaced, where would you go? If your family’s personal records were misplaced during a tornado, flood or severe storm, how would you function? Most people have enough supplies, including nonperishable food, water and a first-aid kit to get them through the first few hours after an emergency, but how about 3 to 5 days after? Do you and your family have what you need to survive, reorganize and recover?

“An important first step in preparing for disaster is being personally prepared. Individuals can start by evaluating themselves – their level of disaster knowledge, their homes and workspaces, their emergency supply kits and their various response and resiliency plans” said FEMA Region VII Regional Administrator Beth Freeman.

“Before one can prepare, he or she must understand how to best prepare for an emergency,” Freeman said. “FEMA’s Ready.gov website is one of the many tools that can assist people in doing just that. From downloadable checklists to how-tos on elevating appliances before a flood, the Ready website is a library of resources for getting personally prepared.”

Once a hero’s personal gear has been amassed, a plan of action should follow.

For preparedness, individuals must have a game plan for getting from point A to point B. How will you and your family go from talking about preparedness to actively preparing your household, your place of business and your community?

Preparing a community for an emergency or disaster can be a daunting task.

There are so many people, each with unique needs, and so many aspects that need to be addressed. When individuals join together with the whole community – providing input, completing tasks, and taking responsibility – it becomes a very manageable undertaking. Joining a Citizen Corps council, partner or affiliate is just one way families can be a part of the larger community ensuring this mission is accomplished.

Citizen Corps brings together the power of individuals through education, training, and volunteer service to make communities safer, stronger, and better prepared to respond to the threats of terrorism, crime, public health issues, and disasters of all kinds. Citizen Corps has many councils throughout the country at the state and local level, and you can find your nearest council for more information or to sign up at ready.gov/citizen-corps/find-your-nearest-council.

Citizen Corps has affiliates that offer communities resources for public education, outreach, and training; represent volunteers interested in helping to make their community safer; or offer volunteer service opportunities to support first responders, disaster relief activities, and community safety efforts. Visit ready.gov/citizen-corps-affiliate-programs for more information on Citizen Corps’ affiliates.

In addition to their affiliates, Citizen Corps also has partner programs which give citizens the opportunity get involved. Citizen Corps’ federally sponsored partner programs help build capacity for first responders through the use of volunteers. These programs can be very specific in what they support, such as the Fire Corps which supports fire departments, the Medical Reserve Corps, which supports medical needs, and the Volunteers in Police Service which supports law enforcement; or they are more broad in their service, such as the Community Emergency Response Teams or USAonWatch. More information on Citizen Corps’ partners is available at ready.gov/citizen-corps-partner-programs.

Together with resources from Ready.gov and the preparedness alliance that forms from joining a local Citizen Corps, heroes can be empowered with the tools they need to minimize the impact of disasters in their homes, businesses, schools and communities. Putting these devices into action however, remains at the core of the preparedness equation.

Does your family know where to reunite and reconstitute if separated during a disaster? Has your school practiced it’s response to a tornado disaster? Does your business have a continuity plan for how it will recover and reopen after a catastrophic flood? Answers to these questions and more can come by developing and rehearsing an effective preparedness plan.

So now that you know what it takes to be a hero, how will you empower the preparedness hero in you? Accept the call and rise to the challenge at www.community.fema.gov/.


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