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30 September 2015

Today is America’s PrepareAthon day of action. America’s PrepareAthon is a nationwide, community-based campaign for action to increase local preparedness and resilience through hazard-specific drills, group discussions, and exercises.

The Salvation Army, as a federally recognized disaster relief services organization, supports this campaign to increase the number of individuals who understand which disasters could happen in their community, know what to do to be safe and mitigate damage, take action to increase their preparedness, and participate in community resilience planning.

Extreme weather events have increased in frequency in the past 50 years and are expected to become even more common, more intense, and more costly. (Source: Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States. Cambridge University Press, August 24, 2009)

Over the last year, upstate New York has experienced a severe winter storm in Western New York, flooding the Finger Lakes and even a tornado in Central New York. New Yorkers can also be affected by the aftermaths of hurricanes and tropical storms.

 The campaign offers easy steps that people can take to get prepared now, so they are able to take immediate action and recover more quickly during and after a disaster. These actions include:

  • Start a discussion and/or conducting a quick drill can help determine what you need to do next to become more prepared.
  • Practicing going to your protective location if you need to evacuate your home;
  • Signing up for local text alerts/warnings and downloading hazard-related apps to your smartphone;
  • Gathering all of your important documents and keeping them in a safe place; and
  • Creating a family communications plan so that everyone knows how to reach each other and meet each other if separated during an emergency.

The Cost of Being Unprepared

  • According to the Insurance Information Institute, an estimated 25 percent of all businesses affected by a major disaster never reopen. (Source: Insurance Information Institute, October 3, 2013)
  • Failing to prepare for extreme weather events has cost the United States $1.15 trillion in economic losses from 1980 to 2010 and could cost another trillion in coming years. (Source: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, testimony before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, February 12, 2014)
  • Investments in weather preparation cost local governments significantly less than recovery. Preparedness strategies include flood proofing, flood evacuation plans, elevating buildings, purchasing insurance and improving drainage codes and floodplain standards. (Source: Paul Kirshen, research professor, Department of Civil Engineering, University of New Hampshire)
  • Despite an increase in weather-related disasters, nearly 70 percent of Americans have not participated in a preparedness drill or exercise, aside from a fire drill at their workplace, school, or home in the past two years.
  • Nearly 60 percent of respondents in a recent survey reported they do not have a household emergency plan with instructions for household members about where to go and what to do in the event of a disaster.

Want to help your community prepare and respond to a natural disaster?  The Salvation Army offers the appropriate training to become an emergency disaster volunteer. During a disaster, The Salvation Army relies upon trained disaster workers to coordinate relief operations and deliver fast, efficient service to disaster survivors. The Salvation Army’s disaster training program includes courses developed by The Salvation Army and trained certified by other partner organizations whose technical expertise is nationally recognized in a given field.

For information on today’s PrepareAthon and how to put together your own family plan, contact www.ready.gov

Tags: Disaster