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What We're Watching: 2/18/11

Potential severe weather
Winter weather will continue to impact the western U.S. for much of the weekend, bringing colder temperatures and snow in areas of high elevation.  For those on the east coast, the unusually warmer temperatures of the past few days will rush out over the weekend, bringing the potential for high winds. 

And as the National Weather Service Hazards Assessment map shows, residents in the Midwest and Great Lakes should be prepared for heavy snow and potential flooding.  Through our regional offices in Chicago and Kansas City (MO), we're closely monitoring potential flooding in the region.  Forecasters continue to predict a busy flood season as snow melts and spring rains come, so make sure you’re prepared.

(See the updated flooding forecast for the North Central U.S. from NOAA)

Kids fire safety
On Monday, we launched a campaign to raise awareness about the threat of home fires and how families can keep their homes and loved ones safe.  With the weekend upon us, we encourage you to practice your family’s fire escape plan when they’re all home this weekend.  Visit for tips on keeping your family safe from a home fire.

And if you’re a Twitter user, use the #kidsfiresafety hashtag and share how you're getting prepared.

Administrator Fugate Fields Questions at CSIS


Yesterday afternoon, Administrator Fugate spoke at an event hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and Louisiana State University’s Stephenson Disaster management Institute regarding FEMA's role in disaster response.

He briefly spoke about FEMA's mission supporting Governor's and their emergency management teams, and how we need to look beyond a "government centric" approach to problem solving when it comes to disaster response and recovery (after, moderator Rick "Ozzie" Nelson called Craig’s remarks probably the shortest and most substantive in CSIS history).

Since Craig's remarks were brief, he spent most of the time fielding questions from the audience. Curious about Craig’s responses to:

  • What are your priorities at FEMA?
  • What are the lessons learned from the Haiti earthquake?
  • How does FEMA work with DHS?
  • How does FEMA work with state and locals?
  • How do you transfer more emergency management power and responsibility back to state and locals in these tough economic times?
  • And a few more…

You can see the video of his answers and read more about entire event at CSIS's website.

- Brad

News of the Day: Private Sector Execs Working at FEMA


As Administrator Fugate often says, "FEMA is not the team, we're part of the team". We've been working to put that philosophy into practice, engaging all members of the emergency management team - state, local and tribal governments, volunteer and faith-based groups, the public, and the private sector.

A recent story from the Washington Post highlights one area of outreach we've had with the private sector: bringing in executives to work at FEMA, building collaboration points between the federal government and businesses. Here's a quote from the story that captures the initiative in a nutshell:

"Under the program, a key initiative of FEMA administrator Craig Fugate, corporate executives in industries ranging from retail to energy spend three months at the agency's response coordination center and serve as a liaison to the business world, particularly during a disaster. The executives also get a seat at the table for key meetings to provide a private-sector perspective.

"'You can't be successful if you only look at what government can do,' said Fugate, calling such an approach "myopic." 'This is kind of like everybody figuring out what you're really good at.'"

Read the full story on the Washington Post website, and give us your thoughts on ways we can continue to engage the private sector to support our citizens and first responders as we prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters.

- Dan

How Might You Use Social Media In An Emergency?

Social media is a hot topic in emergency management these days. Using social media can provide response agencies a way to disseminate vital information directly to the public, and it can also serve as a way for survivors to communicate with family/friends after a disaster.

So how might you use social media during an emergency? Check out this graphic from and let us know.

Other links

- Read the full story on

Administrator Fugate at "Earthquakes: Mean Business"


Getting prepared for an emergency requires working with all members of the emergency management team, across many disciplines and at all levels of government. Preparing for a potential earthquake in the New Madrid seismic zone is no different.

The New Madrid seismic zone runs through the heart of the United States, and this year marks the 200th anniversary of a catastrophic quake that struck the region. With 2011 being the bicentennial of the last major New Madrid earthquake, the emergency management team around the New Madrid seismic zone is making sure it is taking steps to be prepared for earthquakes.

Last week, the Central U. S. Earthquake Consortium hosted the “Earthquakes: Mean Business” symposium in St. Louis, MO.  Participants at the event included federal, state and local governments, representatives from the private sector, voluntary and faith-based organizations, and concerned citizens.

Check out this video from Administrator Fugate on the symposium, and get prepared for earthquakes today.  And don’t forget this April 28th, the Great Central U.S. Shake Out, is a great opportunity for the public to exercise what they would do in the event of an earthquake - if you haven’t, sign up today.

- Brad

Kids Fire Safety in Photos

As part of our campaign to raise awareness for kids fire safety, we wanted to highlight some photos to inspire you to have a conversation with kids you know about fire safety.

We're working with a host of our partners across the public health, children’s advocacy and emergency management fields, including the National Commission on Children and Disasters.  While the photos below aren’t directly from partners of this campaign, we’re hoping they give you some ideas on preparing your family for home fires. 

Visit to learn more, and follow the conversation on Twitter by searching #kidsfiresafety.

A FEMA staff member helps a child learn about disaster preparedness.

Denver, CO, June 12, 2009 – A FEMA staff member helps a child learn about disaster preparedness during a Fire Muster sponsored by West Metro Fire Rescue in Denver. The family event, now in its 15th year, features a range of safety and preparedness activities, including practice 911 calls, evacuation from an inflated Fire House, a variety of hands-on events and search-and-rescue demonstrations by the Colorado Urban Search and Rescue TF-1. (Photo courtesy of FEMA Photo Library)

A first grade student at Westwego Elementary School shows off his work as his class works through the FEMA for Kids activity books

Westwego, LA, March 29, 2007 - A first grade student at Westwego Elementary School shows off his work as his class works through the FEMA for Kids activity books provided by a Community Relations team during tornado recovery efforts.  The kids activity book highlighted the basics of building an emergency supply kit and developing your family’s emergency plan. (Photo courtesy of FEMA Photo Library)

News of the Day: Sharing Fire Safety Tips

Yesterday, we were excited to kick off our public awareness campaign on fire safety tips for families and kids, and we’re happy that word is already getting out about both the campaign and some of the ways parents are educating their children about the risk of home fires. As Glenn Gaines, Acting Administrator of U.S. Fire Administration, mentioned yesterday, we’re working with a host of partners to raise awareness of how families can keep their homes and loved ones safe from home fires.

This story from WCTV (Tallahassee, FL) highlights some of the steps Tallahassee residents are taking to make their homes and families better prepared.

As part of our campaign, we’re encouraging parents, educators, and kids to take steps to reduce the impact of a potential home fire by: 

  • Talking about their family’s fire escape plan
  • Knowing the basics of safe cooking
  • Teaching their children what to do if they smell smoke
  • Installing smoke/carbon monoxide alarms outside all sleeping areas
After you’ve read the story, visit our Kids Fire Safety page at, and leave a comment below and share how you and your family are prepared for home fires.
- Rachel

Highlighting a Community Emergency Response Team Success Story


This blog often highlights the “emergency management team”, the collective group of first responders, local/state/federal government agencies, volunteer and faith-based groups, and citizens that play a role in making the nation more resilient to the impacts of emergencies. I wanted to call attention to a group of particularly committed citizens on this team, members of Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT).

Local CERT programs are a great resource for community members to get trained in basic disaster response skills and preparedness. They play vital role in preparing communities before a disaster strikes, which sets them up to be very effective in case an emergency happens.

Check out this video of a CERT in Bridgewater, Massachusetts – they helped residents stay safe by setting up a shelter during a blizzard last month:

To become a CERT member, training is offered from a sponsoring agency like the local fire department, or law enforcement or emergency management agency in the area where you live or work. CERT members learn about the potential threats to their home, workplace and community, and how to take action to safely assist family members, neighbors, coworkers and others who may need help before professionals responders can arrive.

Once you become a CERT member, there are a number of ways to build resiliency in your community:

  • Local CERT teams across the nation also conduct training courses including response skills such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization and disaster medical operations.
  • CERT members can also participate in drills and exercises, as well as projects to help keep their communities safer and more disaster resilient

Contact your local emergency manager and ask about the opportunities available to you. Even if you don’t become a member of your local CERT Program, you can still take CERT training that will help you be better prepared for emergencies.

Are you a CERT member, or do you have a CERT success story? Leave a comment and share!

- Rachel

Keeping Our Kids Safe From Home Fires


Every winter, we see the number of fires in homes or apartment buildings rise, especially as families turn to alternative sources of heating during the winter months. This year is no exception – and a new report released today by the U.S. Fire Administration finds that the threat of serious injury or death from residential fires is especially high for young children under the age of five.

In fact, as USA Today reports this morning, according to this new study, 52 percent of all child fire deaths in 2007 involved children under the age of four, a slight increase from the most recent study previously conducted in 2004.

This is a figure that should be going down – not up. This latest report reveals a deeply troubling trend, and should serve as a wake up call for all of us. These deaths are preventable, and working together we can educate each other and save lives. You can read the full report here.

That’s why today, FEMA, USFA, the National Commission on Children and Disasters, and a host of our other partners across the public health, children’s advocacy and emergency management fields, are teaming up to raise awareness about these threats and how families can keep their homes and loved ones safe.

Our goal is to make sure that all members of the public have access to important information about simple steps we all can take to protect against the two leading causes of home fires during winter months: heating and cooking.

So – how can you get involved?

Join us – and our various partners in this – in helping us spread the word.

Visit our Kids Fire Safety page on

Check out our new widget -- and post it on your website:

And join our online conversation. We want to engage anyone with good or innovative tips about how you, your local fire station, or your community is helping protect families from home fires. Join us our discussion on Twitter by using #kidsfiresafety. As always, you can follow FEMA @FEMA or Administrator Fugate @craigatfema.

Or leave us a comment below. And as you stay warm in our remaining winter months, remember to stay safe!

Community Emergency Response Team Active in Bridgewater, Mass.

When Bridgewater, Mass, was struck by the mid January 2011 blizzard, virtually the entire town was without power or communications. The Bridgewater Community Emergency Response Team, or CERT, opened an emergency storm shelter available to the public.

Click here for information on how to start a CERT in your community.
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