Be prepared for adverse spring weather including flooding, tornadoes and wildfire

Make time on April 30, the first National Day of Action, to learn actions you can take to be ready should one or more of these natural disasters strike your neighborhood.

America’s PrepareAthon is holding its first official National Day of Action on April 30, 2014 to help prepare residents across the entire United States for disasters. These National Days of Action will occur twice yearly, in spring and fall. The April 30 inaugural event will focus on floods, tornadoes, wildfires and hurricanes; pandemic flu, severe winter weather, hazardous materials and earthquakes will be the topics covered on September 30. Individuals, organizations and communities are urged to participate in exercises, drills and group discussions on these dates to better prepare themselves for a variety of potential disasters.

This campaign is modeled on a very successful preparedness effort known as The Great ShakeOut. These earthquake drills, first held in 2008, have motivated millions of people to improve their preparedness by practicing what to do when an earthquake strikes. America’s PrepareAthon seeks to increase the number of people who “understand which disasters could happen in their community, know what to do to be safe and mitigate damage, take action to increase their preparedness and participate in community resilience planning.”

The program builds on the existing efforts of other campaigns across the United States to raise awareness about the importance of disaster preparedness. However, America’s PrepareAthon adds an important and unique component - a focused national day of action during which individuals, organizations and communities are asked to go beyond raising awareness by taking action. Preparedness guides and resources have been created for use at schools, workplaces, places of worship, local organizations, and with entire communities. Specific disasters will be addressed each spring and fall.

Though disaster-preparedness is an important topic that should be addressed more than one or two days a year, it is hoped that this concerted effort on designated days each spring and fall will help improve the current state of preparedness across the U.S. By taking simple action steps, individuals, organizations and communities can all increase their level of disaster preparedness.

Historically, disaster preparedness in the U.S. took a major step forward when the Department of Human Security was created in 2002 as a result of the tragic events on September 11, 2011. This new cabinet level department united 22 different federal departments and agencies, including FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), into one entity.

In 2011, President Obama took the additional step of issuing a Presidential Policy Directive, PPD-8, focusing on national preparedness. According to America’s PreparaThon:

To move people to action, the President, through Presidential Policy Directive (PPD-8), has directed all federal agencies to work with their stakeholders across the country to “coordinate a comprehensive campaign to build and sustain national preparedness, including public outreach and community-based and private-sector programs to enhance national resilience…”

FEMA’s Ready campaign, stresses the need to be informed, make a disaster plan, build an emergency kit, and get involved in community preparedness. Citizen Corp is just one of the opportunities for involvement listed on their website. Their website also offers specific disaster preparedness suggestions for businesses and activities to teach children about disaster preparedness. While the youth-oriented page is offered in both English and Spanish, the main Ready website and related printed resources are available in 13 different languages.

Other organizations that provide a wealth of disaster preparedness information include the American Red Cross and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Even the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) has a page with recommendations for making disaster preparations for family pets.

Michigan State University Extension offers information for dealing with the aftermath of a disaster including food safety issues, cleaning up flood-damaged homes, and caring for storm-damaged trees. If you do not find an article on their website that answers your question, there are links provided for contacting your local Extension office, posing your question to Extension experts throughout Michigan and the U.S. Other helpful Extension-related websites that address disaster topics include EDEN (Extension Disaster Education Network) and eXtension.

In addition to participating in this National Day of Action on April 30, commit now to learn more about additional actions you and family members can take to be prepared for a variety of potential disasters. 

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