By Nancy Dragani
As 2016 winds down, it is natural to reflect on what we’ve accomplished in the past and where we are headed in the future. This year reinforced the threat of wildfires in the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains, brought severe storms and flooding to some of our communities and reminded us once again that winter can be a formidable foe. Yet despite these threats to our communities, one of our strengths as Americans is our ability to face misfortune and challenges, pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and get back to the business of living our lives.
While natural hazards are by their very nature unpredictable, that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from past experience. It is how we know to be ready for subzero temperatures and snow storms in January and February, storms and flooding in the spring and summer, and wildfires potentially all year long.
For those living in this part of the country, the values of self-reliance and looking out for your neighbors have been instilled for generations. Today, they also serve as a cornerstone to building a culture of preparedness and readiness that serves all of our communities. That culture starts in the home and community. At home, simple things such as family fire drills or assembling a home preparedness kit can make your family better prepared for any disaster. Community events during National Preparedness Month in September brought communities big and small together to highlight actions that make us more resilient. Next April will bring another National Day of Action to culminate America’s PrepareAthon. You can learn more about these events and see how you can participate at community.fema.gov.
You can also become more prepared by ensuring that you and your family are aware of the hazards that can impact your home. Start by checking that smoke, radon and carbon monoxide detectors in your home are functioning properly. Consider purchasing a NOAA weather radio or adding the FEMA app to your smartphone to keep you notified of severe weather in your area. Put together a personal disaster plan, assemble a supply kit and create a family communication plan. If you are so inclined, join a Community Emergency Response Team or volunteer with an agency of your choosing. For more information on volunteer and training opportunities, contact your local or state emergency management agency.
We can’t prevent every disaster. But we can be better prepared when disaster strikes. Now is the time to make sure you and your community are ready.
Nancy Dragani serves as the Acting Administrator for FEMA Region 8, serving the states of Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.