As many of you know, September is National Preparedness Month. The website offers a number of resources, mostly for governments, to engage citizens and community groups in preparedness. Higher level engagement of citizens is extremely important to better enable to them to care for themselves for a period of time so they are less dependent upon government and emergency services in the event of a disaster, freeing up these services to address matters of high impact and high importance.
National Preparedness Month is a great opportunity to get information out to everyone! Consider every facet of your community.
- Schools and day cares
- colleges and universities
- nursing homes, assisted living facilities, retirement homes
- business and industry
- community organizations, service organizations, labor unions
- religious organizations
- government offices
- travel and tourism offices and entertainment venues
What will you do to get the word out? I’d suggest a multi-pronged approach… static information on your website is a good central point to direct people to. Pamphlets and handouts are great to get information into people’s hands, especially at gatherings. Social media is a great outreach tool that should be used often. (and if you think you are OK just having a Facebook account, you really need to take a social media class!). With organized groups, invest time to meet with them and present to them.
One of my biggest tips is to actually give people something to do, give them a mission. Don’t just direct them to preparedness information and count on them to do something with it. Busy people (and even non-busy ones) aren’t wired that way. ENGAGE them! Don’t just speak at them. Challenge them to be prepared and give them benchmarks. Tell them how important it is for them to be prepared, not just for themselves, but for their families, their neighbors, and their communities.
Target your message to the specific groups you are speaking to. A senior citizens organization should be getting a vastly different message than the Chamber of Commerce. Organizations at all levels can be encouraged to join a VOAD (if you don’t have one – form one!) or other coalition to provide services before and after disasters. There is no longer any mission for the community that is just for one organization any more. The demands are too high for that. Sheltering can’t be handled by the Red Cross alone and the local humane society or ASPCA can’t handle all pets in a disaster on their own. I’m betting even your health department could use a hand with points of distribution.
Businesses can help, too. Along with becoming a community partner, they also need to be prepared. The SBA, through Agility Recovery, is offering a number of webinars this month which can be found here.
Yes, all this campaigning takes some serious time and effort. Engage others to help you, establish a strategy and a message, and get out there. Community preparedness pays dividends.
As with most things I write about, Emergency Preparedness Solutions can help you with community messaging and engagement – any time of year! Info below.
© 2015 – Timothy Riecker
Emergency Preparedness Solutions, LLC