Celebrate National PrepareAthon Day on April 30

Learn how to prepare for springtime disasters most common in Michigan: flood, tornado and wildfire.

America’s PrepareAthon is a national campaign that encourages individuals and communities to take action and increase their preparedness for natural disasters and emergencies. Organizers designate a day of action twice a year, on April 30 and Sept. 30, recommending communities across the country practice preparedness actions including hazard-specific drills, group discussions and mock exercises.

Why is this preparation important? In 2012, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) conducted a national survey that showed 54 percent of the U.S. population didn’t believe there would be a natural disaster in their area, only 39 percent had an emergency plan that they had discussed with family members, and nearly 50 percent had not assembled an emergency supply kit.

When a disaster strikes, it can happen so suddenly that there will be no time to prepare. Communication systems will likely be disrupted, family members may be separated and unable to find one another. You could find yourself trapped at home for some time with no electricity, heat or water. Participating in preparedness activities will increase your knowledge of what to expect in a disaster situation, how to respond, and how to better prepare yourself, your family, and your community for a disaster long before an actual event occurs. What can be a truly terrifying and traumatic event will be less so if you are informed and prepare by taking the action steps recommended by disaster specialists. 

Register today to participate in America’s PrepareAthon on April 30. You have the option of posting information online about preparedness activities you are planning so that others can become involved in your events or be motivated to create their own preparedness activities. You can participate as an individual or involve family members. You may want to take on a larger project by planning a preparedness event for your neighborhood, community, workplace or an organization to which you belong. There will also be discussion forums online where you can ask questions, learn from others and share your own experiences.

The six hazards being addressed during this spring’s National Preparedness Day are earthquake, flood, hurricane, tornado, wildfire and winter storm. Fortunately, Michigan is not prone to earthquake or hurricane and the winter storm season has finally subsided leaving flooding, tornado and wildfire as disasters most likely to strike our state.

Resources specific to each of these six hazards are available online including how-to-prepare guides. Fact sheets, background information, customizable promotional materials and a wealth of other tools to assist those coordinating events can be downloaded at no cost. Many of these materials are available in other languages including Spanish, Chinese, Arabic and French.

A primary goal of their program is to increase the number of people who understand what disasters may typically happen in their specific geographic area and know what they need to do to remain safe during such an event. Also important is increasing the number of people who take action to become more personally prepared and participate in community resiliency planning. Community-based organizations, workplaces, houses of worship, K-12 schools and institutes of higher education have been identified key audiences for the preparedness message.

America’s PrepareAthon builds on and reinforces the emergency preparedness work of Ready.gov whose four-part program urges individuals to be informed, make a plan, build a kit and get involved. America’s PrepareAthon also coordinates their fall day of action with FEMA’s National Preparedness Month (NPM) which is celebrated each September. Though no details have been released yet for NPM 2015, the September 2014 campaign had a different focus each week. Week one stressed family emergency planning, week two encouraged people to be informed and know their local disaster resources, in week three they were urged to build an emergency kit, and during week four to practice preparedness.

If you are unable to participate on April 30, you can still access invaluable preparedness information on the America’s PrepareAthon website. Download the 2015 National Seasonal Preparedness calendar to see what preparedness topics are being focused on monthly. Mark your calendar now and resolve to participate in the September 30th day of action or better yet, the entire National Preparedness Month.

Michigan State University Extension is another good resource for assisting with questions regarding clean up and food safety issues after a disaster has occurred. Their website offers informative articles on a variety of topics, contact information for Extension experts and local county Extension offices.

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