By Rebecca Marquis, Acting Director, Ready Campaign
Being Ready starts with you! Getting an Emergency Supply Kit; making a Family Emergency Plan; being informed about emergencies; and getting involved in community efforts such as Citizen Corps are important steps that you need to take. September is National Preparedness Month and the perfect time to get involved in making your communities and our nation safer, stronger, and better prepared.
Federal Emergency Management Agency’s grassroots preparedness initiative, Citizen Corps, supports local opportunities for communities to become engaged in preparedness and resiliency by connecting government and civic leaders, non-governmental organizations, and other community-based programs through participation on their local Citizen Corps Council. Citizen Corps Councils support emergency operations planning, training and exercises, and volunteer opportunities which enhance community safety. Citizen Corps collaborates with 32 partners which support the mission of creating a resilient nation through successful crime prevention, emergency response and public health practices that exist in communities around the country. Here are a few examples of how you can become more involved in your community:
• Volunteering for local law enforcement agencies through the Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS) Program. VIPS volunteers conduct traffic control, crowd control, and other duties that support local law enforcement
• Training to become a member of the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) in your area. CERT members support first responders before, during and after a disaster occurs by providing support for preparedness awareness and using their skills to execute response protocols to assist emergency responders
• Joining a Neighborhood Watch group to assist with crime and terrorism prevention by working more closely with local law enforcement, and emphasize the importance of emergency preparedness among families and homes in your neighborhood
• Donating time to a Medical Reserve Corps Unit through volunteering with medical and public health professionals to contribute skills and expertise throughout the year as well as during times of community need
• Becoming an advocate for fire safety and prevention education in the community and assisting with administrative duties at your local fire station through Fire Corps
• Getting involved with an American Red Cross Chapter by giving blood to ensure a safe supply, volunteering with your local chapter, getting trained to respond to local disasters like home fires, or making a donation to the Disaster Relief Fund
• Helping other community members prepare, including those individuals who are elderly or disabled, non-English speaking and/or have other special needs
All over America, communities have organized Citizen Corps Councils to involve local government and non-government in emergency management planning, mitigation, response and recovery activities. You can get involved by contacting your local Council at www.citizencorps.gov; and you can get more information about Ready by going to www.ready.gov and www.listo.gov.