As Published in the July/August Issue of Continuity Insights Magazine
This September, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will sponsor the fourth annual National Preparedness Month (NPM). During the month of September, DHS works to encourage Americans to prepare to be “Ready” for emergencies in their homes, businesses and communities. DHS will have assistance from the public and private sector organizations who pledge their support by registering as a NPM Coalition Member. In 2008, there were over 3,200 NPM Coalition Members that pledged to hold a preparedness activity or event during the month. It is important to take advantage of this opportunity to increase awareness and the level of preparedness across our country.
In September, DHS will focus their efforts on four different areas of preparedness; Kid’s Readiness, Readiness for Businesses, Multicultural Preparedness and Home and Family Readiness. DHS will provide tools and awareness for each of these specific preparedness areas via their website www.Ready.gov and via a set of public service announcements. Being “Ready” will include activities such as preparing a kit, developing a plan, being informed and getting involved. Individuals and Coalition Members should visit the site to access these resources.
www.Ready.gov provides three main areas of the website that offer preparedness tools and other resources. One area is dedicated to individuals looking for assistance in preparing their family or community. Another is dedicated to assisting in the preparedness of business, whereas the third is geared towards educating kids on preparedness activities. Each of these areas follows a basic set of preparedness steps such as:
- Making a kit of supplies that you may need during an emergency
- Developing a plan to respond to the emergency
- Educating yourself on possible threats
- Educating others on your plan
However, each of the three areas of the website speaks directly to its target audience and provides details and considerations unique to that group. The “kid’s area” of the site is even built to look like a game, with a cartoon animal family and games for kids to play to prepare their family. Each area also provides instructional materials that others can use to educate groups on the material.
If your organization has yet to fully embrace business continuity or emergency preparedness, consider using NPM as a reason to generate awareness or to jump start planning. First, register as a Coalition Member and pledge to hold an awareness or planning activity. If you need assistance in tackling how to plan for your organization, visit www.Ready.gov/business to find tools and materials. The business site provides assistance in understanding how to plan, how to educate your associates on the plans, and how to mitigate the risk of an event impacting your organization. The site provides an easy-to-understand, high-level review of each of these topics, as well as details specific to each.
If you feel that your organization has planning and preparedness well-managed, consider promoting personal preparedness for your associates during NPM. Visit www.Ready.gov/america or www.ready.gov/kids for materials and activities that your organization can use to encourage and educate associates on how they can prepare their families and communities. These sites provide everything from checklists of what to store in an emergency kit to an online family emergency planning tool. Consider educating your associates on how to use these sites and the resources in each. Or, download the tools and use them to hold your own planning and preparedness workshops. By educating your associates, not only will you be ensuring your associates personal safety but you will also be protecting your company’s most valuable asset.
Lastly, consider reaching outside of your organization and holding a community awareness or preparedness activity. www.Ready.gov/america can provide your organization with the tools that they would need to hold a community preparedness workshop or activity. The tools can be downloaded and printed or glossy-finished materials can be ordered from the site. DHS also provides a calendar on the website to post and create awareness for any activities that you plan to hold.
Our nation’s level of preparedness can only be increased by organizations, families and individuals doing their part. National Preparedness Month is a great reason to increase your involvement in preparedness activities. Register as a Coalition Member by visiting www.Ready.gov and clicking on the NPM banner and pledge to support preparedness during the month of September. Take advantage of the resources and tools provided to you via the Department of Homeland Security during this month and do your part in preparing our organizations, companies, communities and families.