Disaster Preparedness Month is an annual campaign held every September since 2004 by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). It aims to raise awareness about the importance of being prepared for disasters and emergencies. Natural disasters such as wildfires, hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and tornadoes tend to appear at very short notice at any time, necessitating the need for residents to prepare accordingly and properly to handle and evacuate from such events safely.
History of Disaster Preparedness Month
Disaster Preparedness Month is a month-long campaign that runs for the whole of September. It was initiated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in 2004 to promote the importance of being prepared for large-scale emergencies. September was chosen due to the U.S. Government emphasizing the importance of personal survival measures following the 9/11 attacks in 2001.
Natural and large-scale man-made disasters affect hundreds of thousands of lives every year around the world, and each disaster will have lasting effects, be it mental, physical, or financial, on the people affected. FEMA once explained that the “work of emergency management is not only [their] responsibility, but that of the whole community, to prepare for inevitable disasters.” Government and disaster relief organizations are ready to help those who are impacted by such events, but as operations tend to be spread thinly during the worst disasters, you need to be just as ready to handle the situation, as the first line of safety begins at home.
To help prepare for a crisis, you need to know the effects that disasters may inflict upon you and your home. For example, forest fires require you to pinpoint evacuation sites and necessary objects to remove from your home, while hurricanes can shatter windows and send flying glass throughout your household. Prevention methods such as barricading the windows and removing fire hazards from your home can be effective in minimizing the effects of disaster, but it all depends on how you deal with it, and what measures you take in the aftermath. Therefore, proper planning and prevention measures may help minimize the impact of a disaster on your home and your loved ones and ensure your safety and survival. Disaster Preparedness Month is bookended by National Preparedness Day on September 30.
Disaster Preparedness Month timeline
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is established.
FEMA holds the first Disaster Preparedness Month, managed and sponsored by their Ready Campaign.
The U.S. experiences one of the worst hurricane seasons of the 21st century, as Hurricanes Maria, Irma, and Harvey wreak havoc in the Southern U.S. and its Caribbean territories, resulting in $206.6 billion in damages and 3,369 deaths.
The U.S. Congress enacts the Disaster Reform Recovery Act, which aims to strengthen disaster preparedness measures and streamline FEMA's operations.
Disaster Preparedness Month FAQs
What are the most important elements of disaster preparedness?
The five accepted steps of emergency management are prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. Experts note that following these five steps and noting the measures of each step, will greatly increase the level of survival and must serve as the foundation of every emergency plan.
What is the time to be prepared and ready for a disaster?
Following a disaster, it is recommended that you have enough necessities to last at least the next three days. This means finding and providing your shelter and having enough first aid, food, water, medical, and sanitary supplies.
What questions can be asked on disaster management?
Questions like “Is our disaster response plan documented?” “Do you have an inventory of hazardous substances within your facilities?” “Who’s in charge?” and “Is the staff properly trained?” are good questions to ask.
How to Observe Disaster Preparedness Month
Create emergency plans
It is important to formulate emergency plans that can be put into action when disaster strikes. Such measures can include deciding on specific meeting points to evacuate to in case communication lines are compromised or having a list of emergency contacts.
Prepare emergency kits
You must ensure that the members of your household have adequate food, water, and medical supplies to weather a disaster. Identify the necessary measures and objects that are crucial to your survival and collect or list them so that when the time comes, you are well stocked.
Keep up to date
Pay attention to news updates and alerts regarding potential natural disasters or such hazards in your area. This can help you prepare thoroughly for when the event occurs and can help you evacuate and handle the situation safely
5 Facts About The Worst Natural Disasters In U.S. History
America’s worst natural disaster
The worst natural disaster in U.S. history was the Galveston Hurricane in 1900, which affected 37,000 residents and claimed between 6,000 and 8,000 lives.
Billions in damages
Hurricane Katrina is the costliest U.S. natural disaster in history, causing damages totaling $182.5 billion.
Around 10.1 million acres of land were burned during the 2020 California wildfires, which is the United States' deadliest wildfire season of the 21st century.
The U.S. states of Alabama and Oklahoma have experienced the most F5 tornadoes, the largest category of tornadoes, since 1950.
A natural phenomenon
A series of violent earthquakes shook the state of Missouri in 1812 and made the Mississippi River flow backward for a few hours.
Why Disaster Preparedness Month is Important
It reminds us to always be ready
Disaster Preparedness Month reminds us to always be alert and ready when disaster strikes. Because disasters tend to be unpredictable, it always helps to spend a few moments of your day formulating plans and preventive measures to ensure that you'll weather the event safely.
It improves our disaster preparation skills
The month-long campaign pushes us to be thorough in our emergency planning. By working out a clear, proper plan beforehand including identifying the necessary supplies, shelters, and relief organizations, you are sharpening your ability to prepare for future disasters, which will benefit everyone in your home.
The month helps us approach disasters in a calmer manner
Having clear plans and identifying the supplies, relief organizations, and shelters needed to weather the disaster, can help reduce fear and anxiety during evacuation so that the process would not become chaotic and messy. Panic tends to exacerbate disaster outcomes, so always remember to keep yourself as collected as possible.
Disaster Preparedness Month dates