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Put disaster planning at top of New Year’s resolutions

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By JOHN HELTZEL
KYEM Director
and MAJ. PHILLIP MAY
FEMA Region IV Administrator
Every year, nearly half of all Americans make New Year’s resolutions. This year, we’re asking you to make a resolution that could save your life—resolve to be ready for disasters.
It only takes a few simple steps and it starts with making a family emergency communications plan. How would you get a hold of loved ones in an emergency evacuation? What should you have in your disaster kit?
Why are these questions so important? Flooding, winter storms, tornadoes, and earthquakes—no matter what Mother Nature has in store, preparing ahead of time can help to protect against her bigger surprises, speed the recovery process, and reduce losses—not to mention regrets. By following the Ready Campaign’s three steps—get a kit, make a plan and stay informed, preparing for an emergency can be a simple and realistic resolution you can keep all year long.
You and your family can update or initiate your own emergency preparedness plan, build a supply kit, and learn where to get critical disaster information updates about your area. So, if you haven’t yet taken the steps to be prepared for emergencies, please take some time this holiday season, resolve to be ready and visit www.ready.gov or www.listo.gov. Information is available in 13 languages.
And we don’t think for one second that government has a monopoly on good ideas, which is why we’re trying to solicit input from the public on the things they are doing every day to prepare their community for disaster.
Once you and your family get ready, please take the extra step to visit www.challenge.gov/fema and share with us your ideas on how we can better prepare our communities.
It could be a new project or a means of engaging the public to prepare for disasters; it could be a public service announcement about business preparedness to play on local radio or TV, or a new device, technology, application, or piece of equipment to mitigate the effects of a disaster.
History has taught us that disasters can happen anytime and anywhere. We’re all in this together—let’s resolve to be ready in 2011.