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Be Ready in 2011: Get a Kit

How many New Year’s resolutions have you managed to keep over the years?  If you’re like me, there have been more than a few resolutions that have not withstood the test of time.  Researchers say our resolutions often fail for a number of reasons: our goals were too lofty, we didn’t have a clear plan for success, or we didn’t have someone holding us accountable.

At FEMA, we’re encouraging everyone to Resolve to be Ready in 2011.  As we saw in 2010, disasters can strike anywhere in America, from hurricanes in southern Texas to ice storms in the Northeast, to flooding in the Pacific Northwest.  Being ready before a disaster strikes isn’t difficult – there are three simple steps to being prepared: get a kit, make a plan, and be informed. 

As the New Year approaches, why not take today to make your emergency kit?  It’s a simple step that can go a long way in saving your life, or the life of a loved one.  Having a complete emergency kit in your home, car and workplace will allow you (and your family) to last for up to three days in case local officials and relief workers cannot reach everyone immediately after a disaster. 

Visit, FEMA’s preparedness website, for resources and tips on making your emergency kit.  Be sure to tailor your kit to any special needs you and your family may have.  For example:

  • Include waterproof boots or shoes if your local area is vulnerable to flooding
  • Include refills of important prescriptions 
  • Include children’s games to keep them entertained

As Administrator Craig Fugate often says - “The public is an important part of the team.”  The more that individuals are prepared, the faster our towns and communities will bounce back after a disaster.

Leave a comment and share your ideas on creative and useful items for a comprehensive emergency kit for your home, workplace or vehicle.

- Rachel

We're Extending the Deadline - Now you can share your preparedness ideas until Jan. 29

Posted by: Shayne Adamski, Senior Manager, Digital Engagement

Logo of site.

At the 2010 TEDMED Conference in San Diego, CA, Administrator Craig Fugate spoke about the need to expand the emergency management team and engage all Americans in better preparing our communities before disaster strikes.

He took the opportunity to challenge his fellow attendees to come up with ideas on how we can better prepare communities before disasters strike:
“How can we—as we play our many roles as part of businesses, governments, medical and emergency response fields, community groups, schools and families—make our communities more resilient?”

To further the administrator’s challenge, we’re currently accepting your preparedness ideas on until January 29, 2011.  Our original deadline was early January, but we are getting some great ideas, and want to give everyone the opportunity to submit their answer to our challenge.

We have received a lot of great submissions to date, and recently published a handful to give a sample of some of the ideas.  Here are a few:
  • Award boy/girl scouts with a merit badge for preparedness after they take a Community Emergency Response Team class
  • Host a “Get Ready Now” weekend in your local community, focusing on individual and family preparedness
We would love to hear your ideas on how to make your family, school, workplace or community more resilient.  Sharing ideas and collaborating are important steps in motivating everyone to think about preparing before a disaster strikes.  To submit your preparedness idea, visit our challenge today. If you wish to submit your idea without using the site, please email:

- Shayne

About the challenge
The submissions will be judged by FEMA leadership and the winning idea will be featured on  Submissions will be judged based on originality, level of community engagement, and ease of implementation.  Challenge submissions are moderated before posting.

Will You Be Ready in 2011?

Posted by: Rachel Racusen, Director, Public Affairs

The current snowstorms blanketing the East Coast are another reminder that its important to take simple steps now to be prepared -- and to Resolve to be Ready for emergencies in 2011.

As we get closer to the New Year, today our Deputy Administrator, Rich Serino, teamed up with the head of Massachusetts Public Safety, Mary Beth Heffernan, to urge everyone to consider making a new year's resolution that could make a real difference in the next snowstorm, flood, or hurricane:

"Nearly half of Americans make New Year’s resolutions. This year, why not make one that is easy to keep and could save your life: Resolve to be ready for disasters. It only takes a few simple steps and it starts with making a family emergency communications plan in advance of a disaster and staying informed.

For example, consider how you would get in touch with your children if their school was locked down. What if you were in a car accident and your cell phone was broken? What if another flood knocked out power for days?

We need you to do your part to become a member of our team, by getting ready now, because when disaster strikes, those of us who should have and could have gotten ready will be competing with our most vulnerable citizens for food, water and the critical resources of our first responders. We all share responsibility."

This message isn't just important for the Massachusetts and East Coast residents digging out from mounds of snow -- it applies to all of us.

So with the countdown to New Year's eve on, join us. Will you Resolve to be Ready in 2011?

- Rachel

(Read the full op-ed in the Boston Herald from Deputy Administrator Serino and Mary Beth Heffrnan)

Be Disaster Ready in 2011

Posted by: Rachel Racusen, Director, Public Affairs

 As the countdown to New Year’s Eve continues, FEMA is doing our part to encourage all of you out there still looking for a New Year’s resolution to Resolve to be Ready in 2011.  Last week, we highlighted op-eds written by Nancy Ward, our Region 9 Administrator, and Ken Murphy, our Region 10 Administrator, in the LA Daily News and the Oregonian. Yesterday, our Administrator Craig Fugate continued this drumbeat, partnering with Jim Bassham, the director of the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, on an op-ed published in the Tennessean:

“This was a challenging year for families across Middle and West Tennessee. No one will soon forget the historic floods that stretched from Nashville to Memphis and numerous towns in between. Throughout the disaster response and the longer-term recovery, Tennesseans have truly stepped up to help each other out. That’s why, as families and friends come together to celebrate the holidays and close the book on 2010, we’re asking you, if you haven’t already, to get prepared now, before the next disaster strikes.”

You can read their full op-ed here. As they note, FEMA and TEMA were proud to team up to help residents and communities across Tennessee during this recovery, and we’re proud that we were able to team up again to remind everyone of the importance of being prepared. So especially with severe winter storms hitting many of us across the country, take a few minutes to sit down with your family and follow our basic steps for getting prepared. Join Craig and Jim and Resolve to be Ready in 2011.

- Rachel

The First Day of Winter - Well, the First Official Day Anyway

Posted by: Brad Carroll, Press Secretary

For a lot of folks across the country, winter has already come in like a lion.  There’s been snow in the mid-Atlantic, Mid-West and Nevada is currently getting dumped on with feet of snow in some areas.  The Metrodome collapsed and California and Hawaii are currently experiencing some serious severe weather.

But, as your local meteorologist will probably point out on your evening newscast today, December 21st, is actually the first official day of winter.  Which means, if you haven’t already, now is a great time to get ready for winter.

Winter storms can bring high winds, heavy snow, and rain, causing power outages and hazardous travel.

That’s why we urge families to maintain an emergency supply kit at home and in the car.  An emergency kit should include food and water, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio and extra flashlights and batteries.  And if you haven’t yet, make sure to update your kit for winter by including:
  • Rock salt to melt ice on walkways;
  • Sand to improve traction;
  • Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment;
  • And adequate clothing and blankets to help keep you warm.
And this year as you gather with family and friends and talk about making resolutions for the New Year, why not resolve to be ready?

You can start small.  Why not find your local emergency management office and see if they offer alerts or other ways to stay informed? Why not sit down with your family and develop a family communications plan?

These small steps can make a big difference for you and your family.

Be safe this holiday season and be prepared.

"Please Pardon the Interruption..."

Posted by: Public Affairs

After a fire swept downtown Baltimore, MD, earlier this month, 2,000 workers were displaced as businesses in the area were impacted. While this event made the news, it got us thinking about the countless common issues that can shut you down for precious hours, days or even longer: power outages, computer viruses and cyber attacks, burst pipes,  and the flu - just to name a few.

The fact is that we live in a world of constant disruption – both the unplanned and intentional kind.  For businesses and employees, business interruptions mean loss of income, services and potentially customers.

How you bounce back depends largely on how you prepare.  At FEMA, we typically see the more widespread disasters requiring federal assistance. But any business operation can experience an interruption. Not even the federal government is immune.  Just look at the historic snowstorm that shut down Washington, DC, for several days last winter.

The good news is that no matter the scale of an emergency, there are basic precautions everyone can take.  Visit (or Ready Business) for practical, low- or no-cost steps that will help safeguard cash flow, reputation, and peace of mind.  Also, consider telework policies to ensure continuity of business, no matter where the work is being done.

Share how your business, organization, and family is preparing for a new year of potential disruptions. As members of the team, it’s up all of us to ensure we’re prepared to bounce back stronger than ever.

Planning for the "Big One" in southern California

Posted by: Nancy Ward, FEMA Regional Administrator Region IX

We received great and positive feedback on Tuesday’s kickoff of the Southern California Catastrophic Earthquake Response Plan (CATPLAN) from press and participants.  The plan specifies that federal and state agencies will work closely together in preparing for a potential large scale earthquake in Southern California.  Unfortunately, a major earthquake in Southern California is overdue and is a “when”, not an “if”, event.

And while the new CATPLAN is a step in the right direction, it’s vital that the entire community works together to plan for such an event.   Each year, FEMA participates in the “The Great California Shakeout”, a state-wide earthquake preparedness drill.  There were over 7.9 million participants in this year’s event, a great sign that California residents are taking earthquake preparedness seriously.

I'd be interested in hearing what you are doing to plan for a large-scale disaster. In California, the “Shakeout” is a great initiative to engage the entire community in preparedness.  Share what your state, city, town, or family is doing to show others you’re prepared.

- Nancy

Other Links
California Emergency Management Blog - post on the CATPLAN signing - information on preparing for earthquakes

Tis Another Season to be Ready

Posted by: Rachel Racusen, Director, Public Affairs

Whether its summer, fall, winter or spring, disasters are not limited to just one season -- and neither is our need to prepare for them. At FEMA, preparedness is always a top priority, and we are constantly encouraging the public to get ready for emergencies.

One of our favorite things about the holiday season are the traditions we create with our families,  neighbors and  communities. At FEMA, our holiday tradition is our annual "Resolve to be Ready" campaign during which we encourage Americans to give the gift of  preparedness - whether to a loved one or themselves.

If you're scrambling to find last minute gifts, basic essentials like flashlights, batteries and even NOAA weather radios make for great - and practical - stocking stuffers. And if you're still looking for a New Year's resolution, why not consider resolving to be ready in 2011? It's a resolution that is fairly easy to keep and could save your life, or the life of a loved one. Click here for preparedness gift ideas or simple steps you can take to resolve to be ready.

Throughout this holiday season, our FEMA leaders from across the country have been getting this message out in their communities. Last week, Ken Murphy, our Region 10 Administrator, made the case to readers of the Oregonian. And earlier this week, Nancy Ward, our Region 9 Administrator, highlighted how Californians are doing their part to get ready for earthquakes and other hazards in the LA Daily News.

No matter which part of the country you live in, tis another season to be ready. And for those of you that already have taken steps to be prepared, share the success stories from your family or business.

- Rachel


A 7.0 earthquake in the Midwest? Planning for the "maximum-of-maximums"

Posted by: Tim Manning, Deputy Administrator, Protection and National Preparedness

It’s the stuff legends are made of.  On this day 199 years ago, the first in a series of catastrophic earthquakes rocked the Midwest along the New Madrid seismic zone.  Although the epicenter of the December 16th quake was in northeast Arkansas, the magnitude of the quake reportedly caused church bells to ring along the East coast.

As the graphic above shows, an major earthquake in the New Madrid zone (of magnitude 6.0 or more) would severely affect Arkansas, Tennessee, Missouri, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio.  Several other states would be affected, ranging from Minnesota to Florida.

It’s hard to imagine a natural disaster on that scale today. For this reason, FEMA is leading a national-level exercise in May of 2011 (NLE 2011) simulating a major earthquake along the New Madrid fault.  We’re bringing all the relevant team members to the table to make the exercise as realistic as possible – federal/state/local governments, the private sector, non-profit and faith-based groups, the public, and even the international community.  FEMA leaders will provide more details on NLE 2011 as it approaches, so watch the blog for more details.

(For the emergency management types, check out an overview of Illinois’s planning for NLE 2011.)

If the 199th anniversary of New Madrid serves a purpose today, it’s that individuals and communities need to plan for what we call a “maximum of maximums” event -- a large-scale, catastrophic event.  It may be gloomy to think about, but it’s necessary to plan for the unexpected, so whether you live along the New Madrid fault line or in the Pacific Northwest, take a few minutes today to be informed about the possible disasters in your community.

We sincerely hope America never has to respond to a major earthquake in the New Madrid zone, but we need to be prepared.  Visit for earthquake preparedness tips and other ways you can get prepared.

We want to use this blog to share ideas and continue the conversation, so leave a comment about how your family / organization / company is preparing for a “maximum of maximums” event.

- Tim

Sharing strategies and building a team

Posted by: Deputy Administrator Rich Serino

Yesterday, I spoke at the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) Shared Strategies conference in Denver, CO.  Events like the UASI conference are a great way to get members of the team working together.  Whether you’re a business owner, member of your Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), local government official, or a parent looking out for your family, you can help the nation prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters.

Here's a quick video I recorded at the conference:

So what is the UASI? It’s a program designed to improve emergency preparedness in major metropolitan areas.  Cities from San Francisco to Miami have benefited from the program, making their region more resilient.

The Denver conference was all about “Shared Strategies”, or looking at how members of the emergency management team can work together to accomplish common objectives.  Since coming to FEMA, Administrator Fugate and I have stressed the importance of everyone doing their part.  We are all part of our nation’s emergency management team, and it truly takes the whole community, working together, to make sure we are meeting the needs of everyone during an emergency.

It’s my sincere hope that you will take three easy steps to get prepared: get a kit, make a plan and be informed.  If you prepare today, you’ll help your communities and families be more resilient tomorrow.

Tell us how the emergency management team in your community is helping prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters.  We're working hard to get our team members prepared, so tell us what you've been up to.

- Rich


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