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Individual and Community Preparedness Division

This page provides information for business partners to learn about FEMA’s Individual and Community Preparedness Division (ICPD). Here you’ll learn about the work ICPD does and the programs it manages.


Preparedness begins with the individual. FEMA’s Individual and Community Preparedness Division (ICPD) serves as the main preparedness link to individuals and families. The Division connects science-based research to communications, education, and tools that empower communities to prepare for, protect against, respond to, and recover from a disaster.

The science supporting FEMA’s individual and community preparedness programming includes the National Household Survey (NHS) and protective actions guidance. The NHS, implemented annually since 2013, provides insight into people’s preparedness attitudes, beliefs, behaviors, and actions. Findings from the NHS are helping to refine and improve the Agency’s engagement and capacity building strategies for individuals and communities. Protective actions guidance aims to provide the Nation with current, research-validated guidance (e.g., duck, cover and hold on for earthquakes; run, hide, fight for active shooters; etc.) for the public in how to protect themselves from threats and hazards, and ultimately save lives. This research enables FEMA to better understand effective preparedness actions and ways to motivate the public to take those actions. FEMA is conducting new research to understand and improve how underserved communities receive critical preparedness information and strategies to help them take steps to prepare themselves, their families, and their communities. Results from this effort can help to modify and improve how the Agency communicates and collaborates with underserved populations, potentially saving lives in communities disproportionately affected by disasters.


To achieve a culture of preparedness across the Nation, ICPD works closely with:

  • FEMA Regions
  • Federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial agencies
  • Nongovernmental partners from all sectors

FEMA utilizes several mechanisms to raise awareness and engage the public in preparedness activities. Email newsletters, social media, webinars, and live-streaming events help individuals and communities remain inform of the latest preparedness information and developments and have reached over 87.7 million people. In addition, FEMA’s Regional Preparedness Liaisons (RPLs) provide direct assistance to help communities organize in-person preparedness events. RPLs have supported over 600 preparedness events, totaling more than 2 million participants, across the nation.

FEMA’s community-based education and training programs provide individuals with information, tools, and networks to better support their communities in emergencies.

Preparedness Research

Protective Action Research

ICPD conducts research to help individuals and communities prepare for, protect against, and respond to disaster by providing current, validated guidance for decision-making.

  • In 2012, FEMA published Preparedness in America which contained analysis of trends in preparedness attitudes, beliefs and behaviors from 2009-2012.
  • Fifty-four percent of the U.S. population does not believe their community will experience a natural disaster. Research shows that people are more prepared for a disaster if they are aware of community alerts and warning systems; talk about their preparedness plan with family and others; attend trainings and meetings; and participate in a drill or exercise.
  • In fall 2015, FEMA completed an assessment of more than 380 protective actions based on 275 research studies and articles by dozens of subject-matter experts covering 12 natural hazards. The draft report contains findings, recommended changes in public guidance and messaging, and recommendations for future research topics.

National Household Survey

The 2014 and 2015 surveys included a hazard specific oversample that allowed FEMA to better understand the differences in preparedness attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors between those who live in parts of the country with history of specific hazards. The hazards included were tornado, flood, wildfire, earthquake, winter storm, extreme heat, nuclear explosion, contagious disease, and toxic chemical release.

  • According to the 2015 survey, less than half of the people surveyed have developed an emergency plan and discussed it with their families in the last year.

National Household Survey Webinars

Preparedness Outreach and Education

Public Preparedness Education

Through emailed newsletters, social media, and live-streaming events, ICPD reached out to over 87.7 million people in 2016 with a combined total potential reach of 890 million views.

  • Webinars: ICPD hosts preparedness focused webinars for different audiences, including the general public, emergency managers, community leaders and local government staff. There are approximately 4,800 attendees annually, with an average of 200 attendees per event. Attendee polling indicated that 93 percent of participants found the webinars to be excellent or good. Eighty-seven percent of attendees stated that they strongly agreed or agreed that the content they learned by participating in the webinar would be useful to their personal preparedness efforts.
  • Social Media: Twitter @Prepareathon and @Citizen_Corps: 2,592 Tweets including Retweets (shared by Twitter users) with an average of 55-percent of the messages being Retweeted and resulting in more than 6.2 million impressions. Facebook at America’s Prepareathon: 902 interactions on all Facebook posts resulting in more than 417,000 impressions.
  • eBrief Newsletters: ICPD manages three eBrief distribution lists with 198,422 collective subscribers. These include the Individual and Community Preparedness, Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), and Children & Disasters eBriefs. In 2016, 6.7 emails were delivered with an average 12.5% open rate.

Individual and Community Preparedness Awards

Individual and Community Preparedness (ICP) Awards are the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) premiere opportunity to acknowledge innovative local practices and achievements by recognizing individuals, communities, and organizations that have made outstanding contributions towards making their communities better prepared for hazards.

  • Since its inception in 2009, FEMA’s Individual and Community Preparedness Division has received and reviewed hundreds of applications and formally awarded 90 winners with the ICP Award including acknowledging 450 honorable mentions from communities nationwide.
  • Social Cognitive Theory[1]  is the research-based methodology for the inclusion of these types of programs which enable and empower individuals and communities through discussion. In simple terms, the theory cites that people learn best when observing others. The ICP Awards Program utilizes best practices in helping to generate conversation at the neighborhood level. The program also provides models of preparedness programs that encourage others to take similar actions to prepare their community.
  • Demonstration of how to implement preparedness programs can increase the confidence individuals have to believe they can take these actions and that these actions can make a difference. ICPD has shared at least 31 news articles through its own digital media engagement with additional articles being shared through partners and stakeholders.

Regional Preparedness Liaisons

Regional Preparedness Liaisons (RPLs) provided technical assistance to organizers of more than 600 preparedness events, with more than 2 million participants, across the nation. 

For example, the Region IX RPL has worked with Visa for the past two years to host a preparedness and continuity activity with Visa employees at its Foster City, CA headquarters. The network of RPLs, through ICPD, has expanded this effort to facilities in Regions III and VIII. In total, more than 1,000 Visa employees participated in preparedness activities last year following RPL technical assistance. 

RPLs also work to create national preparedness initiatives. For example, ReadyCampus originally started in Region VII in 2013 and has now expanded to Regions IV and V, as well as to national level events for Institutions for Higher Education (IHEs). In 2017, through work with RPLs, private sector companies, such as Sprint and Cerner, are beginning to leverage ReadyCampus materials to prepare their employees.

Underserved Populations

Time and again, disasters demonstrate how demographic and socio-economic factors exacerbate the impact of these events. Poverty, race, limited English proficiency, age, and other demographic, cultural, and socio-economic variables can significantly inhibit people’s ability to take steps to prepare.[1] A major 2008 study found the devastating results of disasters are frequently due to an intersection of poverty, community neglect, and discrimination.[2] Furthermore, the Federal Reserve reports that close to half of all American families cannot cover a $400 expense without borrowing money or selling something.[3] Collectively, relative preparedness levels among underserved populations lag behind the general population.[4]

To reverse this trend, emergency managers must ensure underserved communities receive critical information that helps each person take steps to prepare themselves, their families, and their communities. As part of this program, the Individual and Community Preparedness Division (ICPD) works to identify how the members of underserved communities prepare, as well as the barriers that prevent underserved individuals and families from being more prepared. The results may change how ICPD, and possibly the Agency, communicates and collaborates with underserved populations, potentially saving lives in our nation’s communities disproportionately affected by disaster.

In 2016, ICPD began investigating opportunities for leveraging stakeholders to better prepare traditionally underserved individuals and communities, who are often disproportionately impacted by disasters. These communities include:

  • Socio-economically Disadvantaged:  Populations that are disadvantaged due to low levels of income, community influence, and/or status.
  • People with Access and Functional Needs:  Populations that experience difficulty seeing, hearing, speaking, walking, taking care of daily needs, and/or living independently.
  • Ethnic Minorities:  Populations that may live in geographically and/or socially isolated communities, feel distrustful of police and emergency personnel, and/or those with limited English proficiency.
  • The Very Young and Very Old:  Populations that may have mobility constraints or concerns, and may rely on others for safety and preparedness.
  • Sex and Gender:  Populations that have been historically underserved based on sex, gender, and/or preference.
  • In 2017 this program will be expanded to include Tribal communities.

E426: Building a Roadmap to Resilience: A Whole Community Training

  • Whole community engagement in preparedness is a critical asset in developing the cultural change that is required to build and sustain individual and community preparedness, and a critical all-encompassing element of the National Preparedness System.
  • This course, offered at the Emergency Management Institute (EMI) and regionally, is a fundamental training for emergency managers who want to incorporate whole community partners in their efforts. Students are taught to understand the value of whole community collaboration. The community-based roadmap developed by each participant is a blueprint for each to return home and begin building and sustaining nongovernmental capabilities for likely hazards.

[1] FEMA. Preparedness in America: Research Insights to increase Individual, Organizational, and Community Action. Updated: August 2014

[2] Donner, W. and Rodriguez, H. “Population Composition, Migration and Inequality: The Influence of Demographic Changes on Disaster Risk and Vulnerability”. Social Forces Vol. 87 No. 2. 2008

[3] Lee, Don, “Nearly half of U.S. households would struggle with an unexpected $400 expense, Fed study finds.” May 25, 2016.

[4] FEMA, National Household Survey, 2016


Financial Preparedness

Financial Preparedness Webinars

Citizen Responders

You Are the Help Until Help Arrives

  • You Are the Help until Help Arrives (Until Help Arrives) is a program designed to educate and empower the public to take action in emergency situations and provide lifesaving care before professional help arrives. Through online instruction and in-person trainings, participants are trained to take action and, through simple steps, potentially save a life. Materials developed for this educational campaign include a 2.5-hour instructor-led course, a 30-minute web-based training, and an interactive video. The classroom curriculum and accompanying instructor guide are available at

Citizen Corps Councils

  • A national network of over 1,200 state, local, and tribal Citizen Corps Councils bring together local government, business, and community leaders who work to prepare their communities for disaster and to make them more resilient. Councils harnesses the power of every individual through education, training, and volunteer service to make communities safer, stronger, and better prepared to respond to the hazards and threats facing their community.

Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program

  • The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program educates volunteers about disaster preparedness for the hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. CERT offers a consistent, nationwide approach to volunteer training and organization that professional responders can rely on during disaster situations, which allows them to focus on more complex tasks. Through CERT, the capabilities to prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters is built and enhanced.
  • At the same time, the CERT program was designed as a grassroots initiative and specifically structured so that the local and state program managers have the flexibility to form their programs in the way that best suits their communities. CERT volunteers are trained to respond safely, responsibly, and effectively to emergency situations, but they can also support their communities during non-emergency events as well. There are over 2,700 local CERT programs nationwide, with more than 600,000 individuals trained since CERT became a national program.

Youth Preparedness

National Strategy for Youth Affirmers

  • The National Strategy for Youth Preparedness Education was created through a partnership between FEMA, the American Red Cross, and the U.S. Department of Education. This strategy encourages government and non-government organizations to foster comprehensive disaster education to children. Over sixty prominent public- and private-sector organizations have affirmed the national strategy and have dedicated resources to promote youth preparedness and build a more resilient nation.

Youth Preparedness Council

  • The Youth Preparedness Council, formed in 2012, brings together local youth to advocate for youth preparedness, making a difference in their communities and across the nation. Council members are selected because of their dedication to public service, their efforts in making a difference in their communities, and their potential to expand their impact as national advocates for youth preparedness. Each year, the council has 15 members from across the country, including current representatives from territories and tribal nations annually.
  • In his or her first year, each Council member works with local organizations and partners to complete at least one self-selected, community or regional youth preparedness project. Starting in 2016, in their second year, each Council member completes a national level youth preparedness-related project in collaboration with other second year Council members and national organizations and partners.
  • Projects have included starting Teen CERT programs, leading mass casualty exercises, and creating preparedness videos for their community. Members have also spoken at conferences, received media attention, and generally helped to elevate the awareness of youth preparedness.

Capacity Building


  • The purpose of Prepareathon is to motivate people and communities to take action to prepare for and protect themselves against disasters. Supported by FEMA, communities conduct Prepareathon events year-round with a focus on encouraging participants to take specific actions to protect themselves from the disasters most likely to affect them and their community.
  • FEMA’s Individual and Community Preparedness Division launched Prepareathon in 2013, with the goal of moving individuals and communities from awareness to action by preparing for relevant hazards through group discussions, drills, and activities. To date, there have been over 147 million participants in Prepareathon events.

Ready Business Preparedness Workshops

  • The Ready Business program helps small businesses and community-based organizations identify their risks, develop a plan, and take action to mitigate and prepare through hazard-specific toolkits and local workshops. In 2016, there were over 220 participants in events that focused on preparing for high winds and tornado, flood, and power outage. In 2017, an additional five workshops will be held across the country focusing on earthquake, hurricane, power outage, and flood.

Institutions of Higher Education

  • ICPD and its regional counterparts have greatly expanded outreach to institutions of higher education (IHEs) and other federal offices that support IHEs. The IHE community has responded enthusiastically and is interested in pursuing a stronger partnership with FEMA.
  • ICPD co-leads the annual National Seminar and Tabletop Exercise for Institutions of Higher Education on behalf of NPD. The event is co-lead by the DHS Office of Academic Engagement. The National Seminar and Tabletop Exercise for Institutions of Higher Education (NTTX) is a series of campus-based events to test and promote campus resilience and emergency preparedness. The series brings together senior higher education leaders, as well as federal, state, and local representatives from departments and agencies that support campus resilience to participate in workshops and work through a designed emergency scenario. In the past three years, the event has continued to attract additional attention from the higher education community. In 2014, there were 120 college and university representatives; while in 2016, there were over 350 attendees representing 80 institutions and 26 states.  
Last Updated: 
01/10/2020 - 09:22