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A Citizen’s Eye View of Public Preparedness

Government Reevaluating Ready.Gov Preparedness Recommendations For Public: “Get A Plan” Getting More Emphasis, “Get A Kit” Getting Less, “Get Trained” Getting New Attention

August 24th, 2009 · 4 Comments

U.S. officials are reevaluating the government’s original post-9/11 Ready.Gov citizen preparedness recommendations and in public statements are already reprioritizing what they are urging Americans to do to prepare for disasters.

It means that Ready.Gov’s “Get A Kit, Make A Plan, Be Informed” framework — which has been used by many federal, state and local preparedness sites since its launch six years ago — will likely get an overhaul. “We are taking a look at the website content,” Ready’s Acting Director Rebecca Marquis said last week.

Though changes have yet to be made on the Ready.Gov site, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate has already been altering the Ready citizen preparedness message in a number of recent appearances. He has been urging people to “make a plan”, but has been omitting mention of a getting a (supply) kit. An example is the video (below) shot in the new Los Angeles Emergency Operations Center from FEMA’s website earlier this month in which he urges Americans to “get a plan, get trained.”


The changes come as many in the preparedness community have expressed concern that asking Americans to create a full 72-hour supply kit may be too difficult financially and logistically. (In addition, people may already have some elements of the recommended kit, and it is more a matter of taking stock and/or updating them.) Making a family communications plan, Fugate has said, doesn’t cost anything. The emphasis on the “get trained” message was underscored last week when Secretary Janet Napolitano and more than 25 Homeland Security staffers took a CPR/AED/First Aid course.

The current “Get A Kit, Make A Plan, Be Informed” approach came out of an effort in the years after 9/11 to standardize and simplify the preparedness message to the public. While the Ready.Gov messaging has definitely made some awareness inroads with the public, I have found a general consensus in the preparedness field area that revising and augmenting the approach would be helpful. FEMA will be working with the Red Cross and other partners in developing the changes.

I think it is a great idea to take a new look at Ready.Gov and other preparedness messaging. My major suggestion, as I have written on the blog, is that any communications overhaul be done as part of an overall strengthening of the government’s citizen preparedness effort, because there is a limit to what even the most effective information campaign alone can do in changing public behavior.

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Tags: Federal Emergency Management Administration · Preparedness Tips

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