2013-09-20 / Spectrum

A current events lesson in the need for preparedness

Sometimes events conspire to drive a point home more effectively than any persuasive writing you might find in this space each week. Such is the case with September’s National Preparedness Month.

The annual observance is intended to remind Americans of the importance of being ready to react to whatever disasters might strike us without warning. Hurricanes, tornadoes, acts of terrorism, cyber attacks – think of something bad that can happen, and you’ve taken the first step toward preparedness. You can’t predict these disasters, but if you can imagine them, you can take steps to be better prepared for them. You can read more about it elsewhere in this edition of the Signal.

But if you need more persuading on the topic of personal preparedness, just watch the evening news.

As these words are being written, emergency managers in Colorado are desperately fighting flood waters created by unexpected record rainfall in the Boulder, Colo., area. The deluge has already claimed a handful of lives, caused millions of dollars in damage, separated residents from each other and from safety, and sent thousands fleeing to higher ground. For many of them, life will never be the same.

Also, firefighters and business owners are sorting through the rubble of a six-alarm fire that devastated an eight-block area of the iconic boardwalk at Seaside Park and Seaside Heights, N.J., last week. Adding to the misery for the area, the fire came as the area was just getting back on its feet from the havoc of Hurricane Sandy just 10 months ago. Lives that were being rebuilt are broken again.

You can’t predict fate’s cruelty, but preparedness isn’t about prognostication. It’s about imagining what could happen, and then taking some common sense precautions to ease the impact when it does. In his executive proclamation of September as National Preparedness Month, President Barack Obama asked Americans to do just that.

“ By planning for emergencies, individuals can protect themselves and their families while also contributing to their communities’ resilience,” he wrote. “During National Preparedness Month, we refocus our efforts on readying ourselves, our families, our neighborhoods, and our Nation for any crisis we may face.”

Obama’s proclamation also encouraged us to visit the Federal Emergency Management Agency Web site at www.ready.gov for information that can help build personal preparedness plans for ourselves and our families. There, you’ll find good advice on how to prepare and respond in the event of everything from a natural disaster to a fire to an epidemic.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t also mention that the disasters in Colorado and New Jersey struck just as the annual Combined Federal Campaign prepares to begin. You’ll hear more about this year’s campaign in coming weeks. But just as National Preparedness Month helps us be ready for the next crisis, organizations supported by the CFC are helping the victims of the last crisis.

That’s something worth thinking about, while you’re working on your family emergency plan.

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