FEMA designates September as National Preparedness Month

This September celebrates the ninth year that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has coordinated a national campaign to encourage people across the country to take steps to prepare themselves for an emergency.

Every year a variety of natural disasters occur across the U.S. including wildfires, floods, earthquakes, drought, extreme heat waves, snow and/or ice storms, tornadoes and hurricanes. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is the division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security tasked with overseeing the federal government’s response to natural disasters. Their mission is “to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from and mitigate all hazards.”

The Cooperative Extension Service, through the Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN), is a partner in this annual campaign. EDEN assists the effort by connecting state and local Extension offices to expert materials in disaster prevention, preparedness, mitigation, recovery and response. They encourage interested parties to become a National Preparedness Month Coalition member and bring emergency preparedness to their community. Coalition membership will provide access to a variety of ready-to-use information and an online calendar to promote any local preparedness event one may choose to plan. If there are existing events planned in a community, consider including preparedness information at that event. A website or other ongoing communication venues can be easily adapted to include preparedness information.

A variety of other avenues exist for individuals to become more informed about and, if interested, take a more active role in better preparing themselves and their communities for emergency situations caused by natural and other disasters.

Citizen Corps is Homeland Security’s grassroot effort to localize preparedness messages and provide opportunities for citizens to receive emergency response training, participate in community exercises, and volunteer to support local first responders. This year marks the tenth anniversary of Citizen Corps with more than 1,100 active Citizen Corps Councils nationwide. These councils and their members have helped to increase awareness of the importance of personal preparedness through public education and training, have helped prepared communities by providing volunteer support for emergency managers, and have actively promoted communities developing comprehensive emergency plans.

In Michigan, the Emergency Management & Homeland Security division of the Michigan State Police coordinates the Citizen Corps program with 34 county councils and three local councils currently operating.

Citizen Corps is assisted by five federally sponsored partner programs that provide a variety of opportunities for citizens to be involved in helping prepare their communities for emergencies. These valuable partner programs are:

Currently, there are 88 CERT, 40 Fire Corps, 26 MRC and 101 VIPS operating throughout Michigan.

Clearly, there are many opportunities for Michigan residents to not only become more informed about personal emergency preparedness but also contribute to better preparing their community for future emergency situations.

Make it a goal this month to educate yourself about emergency preparedness and share what you have learned with your family.

Did you find this article useful?