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National Preparedness System

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The purpose of this page is to provide an overview of the National Preparedness System. The National Incident Management System is intended to be used by the whole community. The intended audience for this page is individuals, families, communities, the private and nonprofit sectors, faith-based organizations, and local, state, tribal, territorial, insular area, and Federal governments.


Every day, we take steps to keep our nation safe and ensure we thrive after disasters occur. Whether we face risks related to earthquakes, cyber attacks or chemical spills, our goal is shared: safety and resilience.

The National Preparedness System outlines an organized process for everyone in the whole community to move forward with their preparedness activities and achieve the National Preparedness Goal.       

The National Preparedness System has six parts:

  • Identifying and Assessing Risk. This part involves collecting historical and recent data on existing, potential and perceived threats and hazards. The results of these risk assessments form the basis for the remaining steps.
  • Estimating Capability Requirements. Next, you can determine the specific capabilities and activities to best address those risks. Some capabilities may already exist and some may need to be built or improved. FEMA provides a list of core capabilities related to protection, prevention, mitigation, response and recovery, the five mission areas of preparedness. To see a full list of the core capabilities, including details about each one, visit our Core Capabilities page on this site.
  • Building and Sustaining Capabilities. This involves figuring out the best way to use limited resources to build capabilities. You can use the risk assessment to prioritize resources to address the highest probability or highest consequence threats.
  • Planning to Deliver Capabilities. Because preparedness efforts involve and affect the whole community, it’s important that you coordinate your plans with other organizations. This includes all parts of the whole community: individuals, businesses, nonprofits, community and faith-based groups, and all levels of government.
  • Validating Capabilities. Now it’s time to see if your activities are working as intended. Participating in exercises, simulations or other activities helps you identify gaps in your plans and capabilities. It also helps you see progress toward meeting preparedness goals.
  • Reviewing and Updating. It is important to regularly review and update all capabilities, resources and plans. Risks and resources evolve—and so should your preparedness efforts.

Reviewing and Updating. It is important to regularly review and update all capabilities, resources and plans. Risks and resources evolve—and so should your preparedness efforts 

Specific Tools and Resources

Depending on your role in the community, you may be in need of specific tools and resources to help you through the cycle of the National Preparedness System. We’ve listed a few below, along with links for more information.

  • Strategic National Risk Assessment. This document identifies the types of incidents that pose the greatest threat to the nation's homeland security.
  • Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (THIRA). Guidance for conducting a THIRA at all levels of government can be found in Comprehensive Preparedness Guide (CPG) 201, Second Edition.
  • State Emergency Operations Plans. Guidance for creating these plans can be found in CPG 101.
  • National Incident Management System.
  • Remedial Action Management Program.

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Last Updated: 
03/19/2015 - 12:57
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