Seventh Annual National Preparedness Month (NPM) 2010 helps West Virginians take steps toward becoming prepared


Charleston, W.Va. – Floods, winter storms, wildfires and earthquakes - no matter what Mother Nature has in store, preparing ahead of time can mitigate nastier surprises, speed recovery, and reduce losses. Preparing for an emergency can be a simple and realistic goal. 1) Get an emergency supply kit; 2) Make a family emergency plan; and 3) Be informed about the types of emergencies that can happen in an area and the appropriate responses.

            Sponsored by FEMA’s Ready Campaign, NPM is a nationwide effort encouraging individuals, families, businesses, and communities to work together and take action to prepare for emergencies. This year a committee of state and local agency representatives in West Virginia is participating. The NPM Committee is actively engaged in promoting individual and family preparedness techniques.

This year, the NPM Committee is focusing on encouraging all West Virginians to take active steps toward getting involved and becoming prepared. Preparedness is everyone’s responsibility. We have to work together, as a team, to ensure that individuals, families, and communities are ready.

“All disasters begin at the local level,” said Jimmy Gianato, director of the WV Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. “The first 36 hours after an emergency, responders are helping people most in need. Families should be prepared to take care of themselves during that time.”

This year, as part of the focus on individual action, West Virginia is participating in a national campaign to promote texting during an emergency. The campaign, “9/11 Drill Down for Safety,” is an initiative of the Safe America Foundation.  First Lady Gayle Manchin is the national spokesperson for the program. She is encouraging all West Virginians and other First Families throughout the United States to consider text messaging loved ones in the event of an emergency instead of placing a cell phone call. Approximately 800 text messages can be sent on the same amount of bandwidth as one cell phone call. We know from recent disasters like the Haiti earthquake that texting is more reliable during an emergency and will also free up bandwidth for responders and others with urgent needs. 

Governor Manchin, First Lady Manchin, Director of WV Homeland Security and Emergency Management Jimmy Gianato and Safe America Foundation President Len Pagano will be participating in a press conference at 2pm on September 10 prior to the Marshall vs. WVU football game to address National Preparedness Month and the Safe America Foundation’s “9/11 Drill Down for Safety” campaign. First Lady Manchin will also be leading a texting drill during the game where she will encourage everyone to text “SAFE” to a designated number. The Safe America Foundation is hoping to get more than 1 million practice texts during the month of September. 

Preparedness goes beyond fire alarms, smoke detectors, dead-bolt locks and extra food in the pantry. Being Ready includes: getting an Emergency Supply Kit; making a Family Emergency Plan; being informed about emergencies and their appropriate responses; and getting involved in community efforts such as Citizen Corps. By following simple preparedness steps in advance, West Virginians can reduce the impact of emergencies on themselves, their family and their businesses. Many more preparedness activities are taking place throughout the state this month. For more information, individuals can visit or call 1-800-BE-READY, for a list of events or to access free materials that will help them prepare their families and communities.


Citizen Corps is a state and local initiative to involve everyone in building a culture of preparedness. At the state level, the West Virginia Citizen Corps program promotes the message of citizen preparedness and supports the integration of local trained disaster volunteers into the state’s emergency plans. Across the state, local Citizen Corps Councils and volunteers actively engage in promoting and enhancing community preparedness.


Heather Foster