April 12, 2024

September is National Preparedness Month – get yourself, family, home, school and business ready

Author: David Andrade
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September is National Preparedness Month, which serves as a reminder that we all must take action to prepare, now and throughout the year, for the types of emergencies that could affect us where we live, work, and visit.

The 2019 theme is “Prepared, Not Scared.” Emergency Preparedness is something everyone needs to be a part of.
Take time to learn lifesaving skills − such as CPR and first aid, check your insurance policies and coverage for the hazards you may face, such as flood, earthquakes, and tornado’s. Make sure to consider the costs associated with disasters and save for an emergency. Also, know how to take practical safety steps like shutting off water and gas.

The devastating hurricanes and wildfires of 2017 and 2018 reminded the nation of the importance of preparing for disasters. Often, we will be the first ones in our communities to take action after a disaster strikes and before first responders arrive, so it is important to prepare in advance to help yourself and your community.

It is important to consider three scenarios when planning for an emergency: 1) an escape route and meeting point if everyone is in the house; 2) what to do during a school day; and 3) how to handle an emergency during the weekend, when family members might be scattered.

Although many people are familiar with the concept of developing a family plan for emergencies, most fail to take the time to sit down and actually come up with one. One great resource is the FEMA-sponsored website: http://www.ready.gov/. Check out their kids section too: http://www.ready.gov/kids

Schools need to be prepared themselves, as well as teach their staff and students how to be prepared. (more info for schools below)

Is your school district prepared for a natural disaster?


Emergency Management Institute Logo

FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency)
Emergency Management Insitute
The FEMA EMI offers free, online courses for anyone to take. The courses are well done and there are plenty of downloadable materials to help you. If you pass the test at the end, you even get a certificate.

Image result for emergency planning for schools

Here are a list of the courses that I think all educators should take: (I’ve taken these, and more)

IS-36 Multihazard Planning for Childcare
IS-100.c Introduction to the Incident Command System
IS-362.a Multi-Hazard Emergency Planning for Schools

Education Administrators should also be involved in community emergency planning because schools are on the top of the list as emergency shelters and field hospitals and the building administrators know their buildings.

Here is another great resource for schools from the US Dept of Ed – REMS – Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools. This site includes materials, resources and training (including free, on-site training) to help schools start assessing the safety, security, accessibility, and emergency preparedness of their  buildings and grounds.

REMS has an Emergency Management Virtual Toolkit to help schools build capacity in Emergency Management and Preparedness.

Ready.Gov also has Materials for Educators – Emergency preparedness curriculum for grades 1-12 that teach kids what to do before, during, and after an emergency while fostering critical 21st-century skills such as problem solving, teamwork, creativity, leadership, and communication.
Youth Emergency Preparedness Curriculum (4 PDFs)

American Medical Response, the EMS agency I worked for as a paramedic, also has some great resources for safety and preparedness, including bike safety, cold weather, hurricane, winter driving and much more.

Each household, business, and school should have an emergency plan, emergency kits and people trained in emergency preparedness and response.

I started my training in emergency preparedness while on my trail to Eagle ScoutEmergency Preparedness is a required merit badge and the Boy Scouts emphasize emergency preparedness among the scouts. I am a retired Paramedic, Special Operations Paramedic and FEMA trained in Emergency Preparedness and Emergency Management. I’ve responded to many disasters including 9/11 in NYC, hurricanes, blizzards, and mass casualty events and been incident command or staff at many of them.

Here are some of my favorite resources for learning about Emergency Preparedness.

Ready.gov is the US Government’s web site for information and resources on emergency preparedness and response. There are resources for making a plan, an emergency kit, and how to stay informed. Information is included for individuals and businesses.

The Boy Scouts of America, who train all their Scouts and Adults in Emergency Preparedness, has partnered with the Department of Homeland Security to provide resources for the public on getting prepared. The site has planning resources, how to make an emergency kit, and other resources.

The American Red Cross website also has information for creating an emergency plan and how to prepare for different emergencies. They also sell emergency kits (they are very good and a decent price). You can always make your own using their lists though. There is a full section on preparing schools and students. The Preparedness Fast Facts page is an excellent, one stop resource. They also have some great apps for both iOS and Android to help keep you informed and prepared – First Aid, Emergency (monitor conditions and find info ), Tornado, Earthquake, Pet First Aid, Hurricane, Flood and more.

CERT teams practice life saving skills

You can even join your local Community Emergency Response Team. These are teams of citizens that are specially trained to help out in major emergencies, sort of like the reserves. Find out more here. Here is a list of CERT’s by State: http://www.citizencorps.gov/cc/CertIndex.do?submitByState

Emergency Preparedness is everyone’s responsibility.  Share these resources with your students, colleagues, and family.

More Emergency Preparedness resources.

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