With the annual hurricane season brewing and potential winter storms on the horizon – not to mention the ever-present tornadoes, earthquakes, drought and fire – federal agencies are joining forces this month to help Americans prepare for and survive disasters.
September is National Preparedness Month and America’s PrepareAthon! is a national awareness campaign to get families and communities thinking about how to respond in the event of a disaster or other emergency. Saluting the “Be Disaster Aware, Take Action to Prepare” theme, the month’s events conclude on September 30 with National PrepareAthon! Day. Are you getting involved?
The Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN), with its website managed by the Louisiana State University Ag Center, is the nation’s premier source for disaster preparedness information, a one-stop shop of research-based educational material for all. EDEN operates locally as part of the Cooperative Extension efforts at each state’s land-grant university. USDA’S National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) contributes funding each year through Food and Agriculture Defense Initiative and Smith-Lever special needs grants.
“Disasters can happen any time, any place, so every family needs to be prepared,” Abby Hostetler, EDEN communications specialist at Purdue University, said. “Creating a family emergency kit, or grab-and-go kit, is a great first step to ensure your family can be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours after a disaster strikes.”
EDEN has developed a Family Preparedness Course that is available online. The course teaches a family not only how to make a kit, but also how to create a family plan and what a family can do to be more informed. The course also covers creating specialized emergency kits for infants, children, seniors, and even family pets.
Other personal disaster preparedness resources include a Winter Survival Kit phone app, developed by North Dakota State University Extension Service using NIFA funding, and apps that provide disaster preparedness information in Spanish.
As critical as personal readiness is for your own survival, it’s equally important that communities prepare.
“We know that most communities will likely be impacted by several types of hazards during a lifetime. Knowing what to do before, during, and after an emergency is critical and may make all the difference when seconds count,” Keith Tidball, senior extension associate at Cornell University and New York’s EDEN program leader, said. “How do we ensure that people’s actions reflect the highest levels of preparedness? The answer is increased education and training.”
Enter EDEN with its mission to reduce the impact of disasters through research-based education. “One of the strengths of EDEN has always been a multi-disciplinary approach to disaster preparedness education, mitigation, recovery and response,” EDEN Chair Rick Atterberry said.
Information is available 24/7 on all types of disaster and survivability preparedness, and New York’s response to 2012’s Super Storm Sandy provides a recent example of EDEN’s support.
During Sandy, New York’s EDEN disaster response team created a statewide information network that provided disaster preparedness and recovery information via Facebook, Twitter, email lists, web sites, and the Cornell University press office. After determining that the state’s agricultural sector would be spared from much of the storm’s damage, the team was agile enough to shift its focus and tailor resources to meet the needs of New York City and other highly populated areas.
Stay tuned to #NatlPrep on social media to see what other agencies and departments are doing to help YOUR community prepare for disaster.