By Amelia Marceau - September 16, 2020
The month of September is National Preparedness Month, which was launched back in 2003 by the Department of Homeland Security with a focus on educating and empowering the American people to prepare for, respond to and mitigate emergencies, including natural and man-made disasters. DHS’s goal with National Preparedness Month is to promote preparedness through public involvement. The 2020 motto for National Preparedness Month is, “Disasters don’t wait. Make your plan today.”
The coronavirus pandemic has shown many states and local agencies just how important emergency preparedness is. Some may have had pandemic plans created before this year, but most have not had to implement them in a very long time. Others had no specific procedures or plans in place for handling a pandemic.
These unprecedented times have certainly highlighted how important it is to be prepared for all types of emergencies, including a pandemic.
This year, the Department of Homeland Security partnered with the CDC to create educational videos in regards to preparing for the COVID-19 pandemic. While this year’s National Preparedness Month is still focused on preparedness essentials, many of the materials emphasize having proper guidelines in place during COVID-19.
National Preparedness Month typically highlights a different way to prepare for disasters each week. For 2020, the topics for each week of September were:
Week 1 emphasized the importance of communication throughout a disaster - before, during, and afterward. While it’s important family and friends have a way to check-in on each other, it is also key for local emergency services to have that knowledge too. With the coronavirus still spreading across the United States, CDC recommendations must be followed when it comes to making a plan.
State and local leaders can leverage their mass notification solution to communicate effectively with their community before, during, and after a disaster or emergency situation. Quickly, users can get out an already templated message to specific groups depending on certain characteristics, such as location. For example, for a group of residents is living in a flood zone during a hurricane, administrators have the ability to send out a message to those directly affected with evacuation orders and helpful information.
Week 2 focused on having the appropriate supplies stocked in case of an emergency. It is recommended that supplies gathered should last for several days after a disaster occurs for everyone living in a home. It's important to update kits and supplies to include things like masks and hand sanitizers based on recommendations by the CDC.
Again, communicating with your community about what supplies they need is of paramount importance. By leveraging mass notifications, state and local governments can protect citizens by sending out detailed lists on what supplies are needed as well as where they can go if they don’t have access to these supplies and resources.
Not only is it important for citizens to prepare themselves for a disaster, but it is also important that local emergency services are prepared at this time too. Prepare families to act fast if they receive a local warning or alert.
Due to COVID-19, many disaster shelters have had to limit their capacities. Providing updated information about where people can safely take shelter and find food or water is essential.
One solution to help assist first responders during an emergency are public safety profiles. Citizens can fill out their profile to include crucial information such as who is in the household, address and location, and medical information. When a resident calls 9-1-1, the public safety profile will be provided to first responders. All of this is extremely helpful for emergency responders arriving on scene as they’ll have this critical information available beforehand and will know what to expect and how to best respond.
National Preparedness Month works to educate children about preparing for an emergency. Having programs that ensure kids are taught about local plans, school procedures, and home routines can help prepare them for any disaster.
With most parents and students home and remote this month, it is important to have effective communication methods in case of an emergency. Sharing procedures and preparedness tips with younger generations will prove to be essential during a disaster.
Although National Preparedness Month highlights the important steps needed to ensure a community remains safe during a disaster, emergency preparedness should be at the forefront of government leaders' minds constantly.
This year has thrown multiple curveballs - from the public health crisis to the harmful natural disasters - which emphasizes the importance of emergency preparedness.
Amelia is a marketing intern at Rave. She loves to write about anything safety related. When she’s away from the keyboard, you’ll either find her playing with her dog, ice skating, or competing in a triathlon. Amelia attends the University of Massachusetts Amherst, majoring in Political Science and Journalism.
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