National Preparedness Month comes this September

The hazards North Dakota has to be aware of and how people can get ready

National Preparedness Month is an annual event that takes place every September to raise awareness about safety in communities across the country. Several organizations hold events and give out information about how to get ready for natural disasters. Others will learn how to take action that could potentially save lives in the future when an emergency occurs. 

National Preparedness month started in 2004 and has become an annual event in America. The events on September 11, 2001, sparked the US government to encourage citizens to take the necessary safety precautions. The month of September was chosen to be the National Preparedness month because of the attack of the Twin Towers in 2001. 

The nation celebrates this month, by spreading awareness about how to adapt and react in the case of an emergency or disaster. Preparing for an emergency “illustrates a sense of individual agency regarding one’s ability to take action to protect themselves,” said Carol Cwiak, Associate Professor in the Department of Emergency Management and Disaster Science.

According to Ready, this campaign for National Preparedness Month “will feature a call to action for the Black and African American community.” 

It is important to learn about safety precautions because you are not always relying on others for help. “In a disaster, relying on others, such as first responders, to save you is not a good plan.” said Cwiak, “take the necessary protective action and next steps to take care of yourself and those around you.”

Community help and engagement is important during a disaster. “A strong disaster response requires the whole community to do their part,” said Cwiak. Raising awareness throughout the month of September will allow communities to learn how to respond to large disasters. 

In North Dakota, most of the hazards of most concern are floods, winter storms, tornadoes, summer storms and hazardous material spills. By paying attention to the threats in the area, people are better able to prepare for a disaster.  “They should also think about protective actions for hazards in their vacation locations,” said Cwiak. Other Hazards that National Preparedness Month focuses on are active shooters, cyberattacks, earthquakes, nuclear explosions, wildfires, and power outages. 

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, provides resources to help people get prepared in case of disasters.  According to FEMA, “prioritizing personal readiness and the things you value should be part of any plan to take care of your loved ones now and in the years ahead,” said Tom Sivak, regional administrator, FEMA Region 5. 

Other resources including the Red Cross and the National Weather Service also participate in this month. These organizations produce “targeted messages and resources each year that reiterate the importance of individual, household, business, and organizational preparedness,” said Cwiak. 

Some of the best preparation for an emergency starts by asking simple questions. Cwiak stated some questions that are helpful to get prepared. These questions ask about supplies that may be needed, information and resource knowledge and how to get in contact with others in the case of emergencies. “There are so many questions, if we take the time to ponder them, that can inform simple preparedness steps and practices,” said Cwiak. 

North Dakota State University has an Emergency Management major which allows students to learn about how to best prepare and help in disasters. According to NDSU, they study “how human beings create, interact, and cope with hazards, vulnerability, and associated events.” The Department of Emergency Management and Disaster Science are happy to answer questions about how to best prepare in emergencies. 

“We are always happy to help you become better prepared and more resilient,” said Cwiak, “students should know what protective actions they should take.”

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