As I’ve mentioned a couple of times this month (see here, and here), tomorrow is America’s PrepareAthon Day, and FEMA has released the disappointing results of a recent survey showing that the majority of Americans have not practiced for a disaster in the past year, or even developed a family emergency plan.
I’m sure part of the problem has been that we are now nearly 10 years without seeing a major (Category 3+) hurricane strike the United States (Wilma in 2005), and that the past three years has produced an unusually low number of tornadoes. We’ve not seen a truly destructive earthquake in two decades, North American volcanoes have been remarkably quiet since Mt. St. Helens erupted in 1980.
While undeniably welcome trends, they won’t last forever.
Another Category 4 or 5 storm will waltz out of the Atlantic one of these days, and into a highly populated region. We will see another super outbreak of tornadoes, like we saw in 2011 and in 1974. And the San Andreas, New Madrid, or some other big fault line will eventually rupture causing tremendous damage.
You can put money on it.
The only real questions are when, and whether you and your family will be prepared when it happens.
This from FEMA.
Sixty Percent of Americans Not Practicing for Disaster: FEMA urges everyone to prepare by participating in National PrepareAthon! Day on April 30
Release date: April 28, 2015
Release Number: HQ-15-019
WASHINGTON – A recent Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) survey found that nearly 60 percent of American adults have not practiced what to do in a disaster by participating in a disaster drill or preparedness exercise at work, school, or home in the past year. Further, only 39 percent of respondents have developed an emergency plan and discussed it with their household. This is despite the fact that 80 percent of Americans live in counties that have been hit with a weather-related disaster since 2007, as reported by the Washington Post. With the number and severity of weather-related disasters on the rise, the America’s PrepareAthon! is an opportunity for individuals, organizations, and communities to take action to prepare for specific hazards through group discussions, drills, and exercises.
“When it comes to preparedness, practice makes perfect,” said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. “America’s PrepareAthon! is about taking action now to better prepare yourself, your family, and your community to be ready to respond to these events before they occur.”
America’s PrepareAthon! is a national community-based campaign that provides free, easy-to-use guides, checklists, and resources to get more people to take action to prepare every day. On April 30, individuals, families, workplaces, schools and organizations will come together to practice simple actions to stay safe before, during, and after emergencies relevant to their area. Examples include:
- Sign up for local text alerts and warnings and download weather apps to your smartphone.
- Develop an emergency communication plan for your family. This will help you be in touch if a disaster strikes and family members are in different locations.
- Collect important documents and keep them in a safe place. This will help you evacuate without delay and get back on track after the disaster passes.
- Gather emergency supplies. Pack a “go bag” to evacuate quickly and have supplies in the home to be safe without water or power.
Visit the America’s PrepareAthon! website, ready.gov/prepare to take action, be counted and spread the word.
America’s PrepareAthon! was established to provide a comprehensive campaign to build and sustain national preparedness as directed by Presidential Policy Directive-8. The campaign is coordinated by FEMA in collaboration with federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial governments, the private sector, and non-governmental organizations.
While it may not seem a big deal, having a supply of food and water, battery operated lanterns, and an NWS weather radio can take a lot of the stress off of any disaster scenario.
Millions of people who endured Hurricane Sandy’s trek across the Mid-Atlantic states in 2012 learned the hard way just how uncomfortable going a week with no running water, electricity, or other basic services can be in the month November.
Twelve months later, in Sandy: Coping With The Aftermath we looked at some of the long lasting emotional scars. And six years after Katrina hit New Orleans, that city still reported a 300% increase in heart attacks (see Tulane University: Post-Katrina Heart Attack Rates – Revisited).
While the psychological impact of a major disaster cannot be completely mitigated, encouraging individual, family, and business preparedness can go a long ways towards reducing the impact of any disaster.
FEMA, Ready.gov, along with organizations like the American Red Cross (and indeed, this blog), spend a great deal of time trying to convince individuals, families, businesses and communities of the value of preparing for a wide variety of emergencies and disasters.
Basic kit : NWS radio, First Aid Kit, Lanterns, Water & Food & cash
Having a modest supply of food, water, and medicine – and a workable family or business disaster plan – can go a long ways toward reducing both stress and hardship during and after a disaster
And when it comes to getting prepared, it is far better to be 6 months too early than 6 minutes too late.