With the raging wildfires in Texas displacing thousands of residents, communities on the East Coast still recovering from Hurricane Irene and Gulf Coast residents drying out after tropical storm rains, it is a fitting time for all of us to remember the importance of preparing for natural disasters and emergencies.
September is National Preparedness Month, an annual observance sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security that seeks to make sure we are ready for emergencies at home, at work and in our communities. Organizers encourage public and private organizations, groups and individuals to join the National Preparedness Month Coalition and pledge to carry out at least one activity during the month.
APHA has signed on with our Get Ready Day, which is Tuesday, Sept. 20. We encourage you to help your community, campus or workplace prepare for emergencies or disasters by holding a Get Ready Day event. Visit the event planning page for tips and to request hard copies of materials for use in your activities. APHA’s Get Ready campaign also has two contests to help spur you to action. School-based health centers that help raise awareness about preparedness by holding a Get Ready Day event are eligible to win $500 from APHA. Contest details are here. There is also a video contest for students in sixth through 12th grade who help raise awareness of emergency preparedness. Submit a video and you can win $500.
Here’s a look at several emergency preparedness events taking place across the country:
- Arkansas: The state will launch its Ready Arkansas Campaign with a new website with helpful tips, resources and links.
- Colorado: Videos starring Colorado preparedness champions and advocates will be available on the READYColorado.com website.
- Michigan: Several state agencies and organizations have planned local events to help citizens prepare, and you can visit the Michigan Prepares website to learn ways to prepare for an emergency.
- Virginia: Displays and informational brochures will be available at Fairfax County libraries and in City Hall. Displays of signage with preparedness messages will be advertised on buses. Bookmarks will be distributed in public and school libraries providing preparedness messages.
- Washington State: Washington officials plan an earthquake drill to help residents prepare for a natural disaster. The statewide Drop, Cover & Hold drill will be held at 10:15 a.m. Sept. 21. Also, as part of Disaster Preparedness Month, information and booklets will be sent to schools across Washington State. Preparedness information for individuals, businesses and homes will be available on the “In Focus” section on the Washington Emergency Management Division’s Web site at www.emd.wa.gov.
- Wyoming: The Wyoming Citizen Corps Council, the Wyoming Office of Homeland Security, the Wyoming Military Department and the Wyoming Department of Health are promoting preparedness by giving residents the chance to win one of 89 preparedness prizes. To enter go to http://wyohomelandsecurity.state.wy.us/npm/index.html.
Visit the FEMA website to see what other preparedness events are happening in your state or county.
Are you planning an event? Please feel free to tell us about it by commenting on this page.