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World Civil Defense Day – March 1, 2023

On World Civil Defense Day on March 1 every year, the world’s attention is on civil protection and preparedness. People need to learn how to prevent, prepare for, and manage emergency situations such as accidents and disasters. The day celebrates the honor and prestige of those in civil protection. It calls on more people to learn about safety measures and protection skills they would need in the case of any form of emergencies, natural or man-made. A famous Civil Defense Day quote is, “We can only hope for the best as long as we are satisfyingly prepared for the worst.” Civil Defense Day is all about raising awareness of the need to plan ahead. 

History of World Civil Defense Day

World Civil Defense Day was initiated by the International Civil Defense Organization. They conduct its activities every year. The day was created to pay tribute to the efforts of national services responsible for the fight against disasters.  It also creates awareness of the need for self-protection and preventative measures in the event of accidents or disasters. The International Civil Defense Organization, or I.C.D.O., has its origins in the Association of Geneva Zones, which was founded by Surgeon-General George Saint-Paul in 1931. After seeing the effects of war on the population, Saint-Paul wanted to create safety zones where civilians could seek refuge in times of war. Civil defense, or civil protection, is all about protecting citizens from natural disasters by teaching them to protect themselves through knowledge of prevention, preparation, response, evacuation, and recovery skills. 

As time went by, the name and objectives of the association were changed to create the International Civil Defense Organization we have today. The I.C.D.O. is an intergovernmental organization that ensures the safeguarding of lives, property, and the environment from natural or man-made disasters. In 1972, the member-states of the I.C.D.O. approved the current constitution of the organization, which entered into force on March 1 of the same year. 

Every year, the I.C.D.O. selects a theme to guide the activities of World Civil Defense Day. In 2019, it was “Children’s safety, our responsibility”. In 2022, the theme is ‘Uniting the world’s leading industry specialists for the safety & security of future generations.’

World Civil Defense Day timeline

1924
Air Raid Precautions Committee Is Created

The A.R.P. Committee is established in the U.K. to investigate ways to ensure civilian protection from the danger of air raids.

1949
Civil Defense Corps Is Created

The civil service is revived in the U.K. through the civilian volunteer organization known as the Civil Defense Corps.

1958
The I.C.D.O. Is Created

The Association of Geneva Zones is renamed to the International Civil Defense Organization and is given the status as a non-governmental organization

1998
Civil Defense Symbol Is Adopted

The I.C.D.O. adopts an equilateral blue triangle on an orange background as the international sign of civil defense.

World Civil Defense Day FAQs

What is the theme of World Civil Defense Day 2021?

According to the International Civil Defense Organization website, the theme of the 2021 World Defense Day celebrations was “Strong Civil Protection to Preserve The National Economy.” This theme was created in recognition of the effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic on world economies. However, some countries have chosen separate themes from that of the I.C.D.O. India’s 2021 World Civil Defense Day theme, for example, is “Civil Defense and The First Aider in Every Home.”

Does the U.S. still have civil defense?

While the United States might not currently have a national civil defense organization, it still has civil defense organizations and other organizations that espouse the objectives of civil defense. In the late 20th century, the term “civil defense” fell into disuse in the U.S. and was replaced by terms such as “emergency management” and “homeland security.”

What were duck and cover drills?

During the Cold War in the U.S., President Harry S. Truman created a Federal Civil Defense Administration program that administered school drills to teach students about safety in the case of a nuclear attack. Students were trained to dive under their desks and cover their heads. A film, “Duck and Cover,” was also created to show students recommended safety techniques

How to Observe World Civil Defense Day

  1. Learn first-aid

    Take World Civil Defense Day as an opportunity to educate yourself on the measures you can take whenever there is any threat to your life. From C.P.R. to emergency first-aid measures, you need to have the skills to provide emergency care for you and your loved ones in the case it is ever needed.

  2. Give a salute

    On World Civil Defense Day, throw a salute to the heroes who have sacrificed their time, efforts, and in some cases, lives, to the fight against disasters. You can hold a minute of silence wherever you are in tribute to the efforts and sacrifices of civil defenders all over the world.

  3. Volunteer

    No matter where you are, you can find your local or national civil defense association and volunteer to help them. Different countries and states have civil defense organizations and World Civil Defense Day is the perfect day to sign up to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your country during emergencies and disasters.

5 Facts About Civil Defense

  1. French first

    The Civil Defense Organization was adopted by the French Parliament in June 1935 and in 1972 it became an intergovernmental organization.

  2. Thousands of volunteers

    After the Pearl Harbor attacks in the U.S., 23,000 people volunteered to join civil defense in Chicago alone.

  3. Taught by a turtle in the U.S.

    In 1950, an animated turtle called Bert taught American kids about safety measures in case of an atomic attack.

  4. People were wary of it

    Some people still see the efforts of civil defense as a form of terror-raising and exaggeration of potentially disastrous events, which has made the work of civil defense much harder.

  5. It’s not just for times of trouble

    It aims rather at prevention and mitigation efforts to avoid disasters and manage emergencies.

Why World Civil Defense Day is Important

  1. It celebrates underappreciated heroes

    When people name life-saving heroes, members of civil defense are often left out. World Civil Defense Day celebrates and recognizes the contributions and efforts of these underappreciated heroes who have saved lives and properties time and time again.

  2. It saves lives

    World Civil Defense Day equips people with the skills they need to save lives. Basic skills like C.P.R. and first-aid are pivotal in times of emergency, and hundreds of people use World Civil Defense Day to learn these skills.

  3. Anyone can participate

    The great thing about civil defense is that you don’t have to be a military person or medical personnel to save lives during an emergency. No matter where you are, you can join a civil defense organization and make a difference during times of disasters and emergencies.

World Civil Defense Day dates

YearDateDay
2023March 1Wednesday
2024March 1Friday
2025March 1Saturday
2026March 1Sunday
2027March 1Monday
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