Last week, I visited the three-member Ready Campaign team — Director Darryl Madden, Deputy Director Rebecca Marquis, and Campaign Specialist Chris BernsteinÂ – at FEMA headquarters to get a briefing on the 7th annualÂ National Preparedness Month (NPM) which begins in less than two weeks.
NPM,Â sponsored by the Ready Campaign in partnership with Citizen Corps and the Ad Council, “is designed to encourage Americans to take simple steps to prepare for emergencies in their homes, businesses, and communities.”
So far, there are 2,807 Coalition Members,Â who willÂ be organizing preparedness activities during the month, which surpasses last year’s 2,700 (though is still short of 2008’s 3,200).
According to Madden. thereÂ will be a couple areas of special emphasis this year.
First, there will be a special effort during the Month to get Americans to create an emergency communications plan for their family. In fact, FEMA head Craig Fugate told me in an interview last week that if citizens are going “to do one thing” this National Preparedness Month it is to develop a family plan â€”Â described on most emergency management websites.Â In order to help Americans do the emergency planning, Ready.Gov and the Ad Council are offering some online tools to createÂ a printable comprehensive Family Emergency Plan and an email/text containing basic information that can be shared with others.
Madden said he also hopes the Americans will — if they have not already — check in with their workplaces and kids’ schools about their emergency plans. I mentioned to him that I thought the language in this area on Ready.Gov “Make A Plan” section was not strong enough:
You may [my italics] also want to inquire about emergency plans at places where your family spends time: work, daycare and school. If no plans exist, consider volunteering to help create one.
To me, if the government believes it is important for people to create an emergency plan both to help themselves and to make the job of first responders easier during a disaster then the web site should be willing to say something stronger than they “may also want to inquire.” (”should” would be preferable.) Madden said he agreed.
Another area of focus during the Month is to highlight the growing number of ways that Americans can access(and provide disaster preparedness, response and recovery information, particularly using new technologies such asÂ the new mobile FEMA site, m.FEMA.gov. Madden says that going beyond National Preparedness Month, the Ready Campaign will be continuing to better “tailor” FEMA’s resources to the public’s needs with more platforms and interactivity.