Individual/Community Preparedness

Educate Citizens

Educate citizens on basic preparedness tips like packing a kit and having a home inventory and private documents secured.


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  1. Comment
    Janis Comstock-Jones

    This should be done within the communities, perhaps engaging community resources to spread the word. Currently, too much reliance is made on citizens somehow "knowing" the information is available online or on request. The problem is, many people still do not have access to that knowledge, much less the resources to retrieve it. Switching the dissemination of information to active from passive will reach more people and enable them to become part of the educational process as they share it with friends and family. A single announcement that the information is available for download is woefully insufficient to save lives. A good example of the type of mass education process would be the American Red Cross model for HIV education through staff, schools, churches, clubs, and phone lines, as well as materials distributed through print, broadcast, and online.

  2. Comment
    Scott Paltall ( Idea Submitter )

    Janis you are absolutely right. I couldn't agree with you more. More local, active education needs to be happening. Thanks for the comment!

  3. Comment
    Becky Koch

    With county Extension agents/educators in nearly every county of the U.S., the Cooperative Extension System can help with this education. The Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN) coordinates disaster education of state Extension Services.

  4. Comment
    Chuck Brick

    Although an escape-pack/72-hr pack/whatever is an important thing to have in case of evacuation (home fire, chemical spill, flood etc.), with most other events people would be far better off to shelter in place. Most people don't stop to think that the moment you leave your home, you become a refugee - a victim, whether of circumstance or criminals, but still a victim. Canned goods, water, etc., and a way to defend what you have - including your family. Power outage? Buy candles now, while they're cheap; they don't take much room to store. You don't have to be obsessed or invest $$$$ to be prepared for most events.

  5. Comment
    John Clouse

    Scott, good general point, and Janis's comments are spot on as well. Emergency/Disaster prep is an active, not passive function. Consider engaging national (BSA, GSA, ARC, Rotary, etc) and local (schools, faith-based, etc) service organizations to directly interact with the population in "hands on" E/D prep applications. Funding will be your major roadblock.

  6. Comment
    Scott Paltall ( Idea Submitter )

    Community Member - The 72 hour kit can be used for in-home sheltering as well. You make a good point that you don't need to be obsessed or invest lots of money to be prepared. A lot of things that are needed for a kit can be found in camping supplies.

    John - I believe the private sector can help with funding. As an example, I am going to use public education as part of my marketing plan for my home inventory business.

  7. Comment

    It's not just about education, it's about instilling a preparedness culture. Citizens rely too heavily on 9-1-1 and first responders. Incorporating preparedness skills and behaviors into classrooms at the middle and school levels is a really good way of impacting the future. These age groups can learn and retain the information as part of their lifelong skill base.

  8. Comment
    Frederick Massey

    Candles when not properly tended, cause fores and fires cause more deaths each year than any other disaster. I recommend using an LED, battery operated light in all of my community disaster education classes. I agree with everthing else stated.

  9. Comment
    Joseph Immermann

    Janis put it best, spot on! We must aggressively promote a culture of preparedness. People must be taught the importance of taking some simple and fairly inexpensive steps to make themselves as self-reliant as possible for as long as reasonable possible.

  10. Comment
    Herbert Gehring

    Have you noticed how few organizations can really deliver results at the local level? Many will trumpet their MOUs in place but the local appeal seems to center on publicity and air-time. An excellent concept--but unlikely to be coordinated effectively so the community permanently advances.

  11. Comment
    Belinda Hare

    I agree wholeheartedly that there is great value in grass-roots education. But, what about that single mother who's struggling every day to put food on the table for her four or five children? Does anyone have any ideas/answers to the socio-economic issues that affect preparedness?

  12. Comment
    Ashley VandeKopple

    This discussion is right on target with what Michigan is doing. We have recently developed kindergarten thru 12th grade lessons that focus solely on preparing families and communities. Students will have homework assignments that help them, step by step, develop home preparedness kits and plans (similar to the home fire escape plans). These lessons have been developed in collaboration with the department of state police, education and community health. The subjects of these lessons inlcude: understanding and developing emergency skills, family emergency preparedness plans and kits, awareness of common hazards and disasters, developing coping skills after a disaster or emergency, recognizing helpful or harmful influences, preventing and identifying dangerous situations, and respect and citizenship. If children are not prepared, their families will not be prepared and could negatively impact response thereby affecting overall community resiliency.

    In the Spring of 2011 these lesson will be made available to schools nationwide through the Michigan Model for Health.

  13. Comment
    Jeff Rubin

    Let's make it realisitc: "get a kit, make a plan," etc. doesn't mean much to most people, and ideally they think about what they're vulnerable to and what specifically they need to survive (e.g., meds) and recover (e.g., documents), before they start buying/assembling kits and taking classes.

  14. Comment
    Janet Liebsch

    That's awesome Ashley and we agree... one of the best ways to "gently force" data into homes is thru kids and schools. We have a school and youth group fundraiser associated with our disaster preparedness and basic first aid manual. Many agencies and volunteer groups are sharing ideas with K-12 schools, Explorers, Scouts and others. And, since we discount it 75% off list (or only $3.50 for a 268-pg book), it allows schools to earn a great profit while getting information into the public's hands. Having first aid data in book makes people keep it on the shelf -- and, we're hoping people will flip thru (and read) the disaster preparedness topics as well.

    We have many other collaborative programs to help the private and public sectors work together too.

    Janet Liebsch Fedhealth

  15. Comment

    The American Red Cross Disaster Preparedness Division in all the chapters throughout the United States offer this type of training to the community and those who request it. I myself am a Disaster Preparedness instructor and teach various groups all that you mentioned in your idea.

  16. Comment
    Philip Smith

    The plain but startling fact is that the largest population at mortal risk from a terrorist nuclear blast is not at ground zero, but the surrounding communities ignorant of simple civil defense. This is an unconscionable failure of leadership!

    A terrorist nuclear device would most likely be detonated at ground level in the heart of an "urban canyon". This has profound implications for response and civil defense. The Hiroshima weapon was detonated at 1900ft, which maximized the blast and thermal damage but minimized the radioactive fallout. The blast and thermal effect radius of a street level detonation would be measured in city blocks, not miles. The radioactive fallout from such an attack however would be enormously increased as vast quantities of radioactive debris is blown skyward. Much of the debris would fall in a few minutes within a 10 mile radius, rendering the response area highly radioactive.


    Responders and citizens alike should immediately retreat to radiation safe locations. The problem is that neither group has a clue what that means. This amounts to criminal negligence on the part of our leadership. Most people think that evacuation is appropriate in such circumstances - which signs their death warrant! Communication with the affected population will be nonexistent. Responders will not even be able to approach broken buildings to search for survivors until several days after the event. Most responders have been issued oversensitive interdiction and hazmat instruments that will be useless in reporting the true radiation levels encountered. Within an hour or so the debris cloud will begin dumping fine radioactive grit and ash up to 100 miles downwind. The fallout intensity downwind of an urban surface blast will be greater than most military plume charts assume. Our focus should not be on those near ground zero doomed to sudden death, but rather on the far larger population at risk of lingering radiation casualties caused by ignorant actions in the first hours after an attack.