National Preparedness Month Emphasizes Individual and Family Preparedness

In 2009, Department of Homeland Securiyt (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano closed National Preparedness Month by stressing the important role that individuals play in building a national culture of readiness and resilience.

She states, “When families are prepared—when communities stand together and stand tall—so does our nation,” said Secretary Napolitano. “United, we send a powerful message to those that seek to do us harm: we cannot be broken, we are America—strong and resilient.”

In 2010, National Preparedness Month opened with the subject of Family Preparedness.

A FEMA press release issued September 1, 2010, states, “Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate today kicked off the seventh annual National Preparedness Month, joining local Washington, D.C. officials and students from Ferebree-Hope Elementary School at the Serve DC Commander Ready event to talk about the importance of family and community emergency preparedness, especially as Hurricane Earl approaches the East Coast of the U.S. and other storms continue to form in the Atlantic Ocean”.

The subject of family preparedness has been an ongoing thread in the conversation surrounding homeland security, community resilience and economic recovery.  For example:

Homeland Security Presidential Directive 8 on National Preparedness, dated December 2003, states:

“The Secretary shall work with other appropriate Federal departments and agencies as well as State and local governments and the private sector to encourage active citizen participation and involvement in preparedness efforts. The Secretary shall periodically review and identify the best community practices for integrating private citizen capabilities into local preparedness efforts.”

Homeland Security Presidential Directive 21 on Public Health and Medical Preparedness, dated October 2007, states:

“The Secretary of Health and Human Services, in coordination with the Secretaries of Defense, Veterans Affairs, and Homeland Security, shall ensure that core public health and medical curricula and training developed pursuant to PAHPA address the needs to improve individual, family, and institutional public health and medical preparedness, enhance private citizen opportunities for contributions to local, regional, and national preparedness and response, and build resilient communities.”

The Department of Homeland Security reported in its 2007 National Preparedness Guidelines;

As uniformed emergency responders constitute less than one percent of the total U.S. population, it is clear that citizens must be better prepared, trained, and practiced on how best to take care of themselves and assist others in those first, crucial hours during and after a catastrophic incident.”

However, progress is needed.  The Personal Preparedness in America: Findings from the 2009 Citizen Corps National Survey reported that:

  • 30 percent of Americans have not prepared because they think that emergency responders will help them
  • Over 60 percent expect to rely on emergency responders in the first 72 hours following a disaster
  • Of those who perceived themselves to be prepared, 36 percent did not have a household plan, 78 percent had not conducted a home evacuation drill, and 58 percent did not know their community’s evacuation routes

If these recent finding cause some concern for you, please pass this information along to those business continuity, disaster preparedness, emergency response and risk management team members in your organization.

As always, we welcome your thoughts and comments ….

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