No matter where you live, emergencies can happen anytime, anywhere.
Whether it's a personal emergency, a car accident, or a large scale disaster, an earthquake, taking a few simple steps now to prepare, can keep your family safe and secure.
The problem is, too few families in our country are taking those steps. According to a 2009 Advertising Council survey, 55 percent of Americans have taken steps to become ready – an improvement over previous years, but still not enough.
Whether you live in a city or in a rural area, along a coast or in a central state, it's imperative that all Americans take steps to prepare for a natural or man-made disaster. These steps are as simple as getting an emergency supply kit, making a plan for how you will communicate with your family if a disaster strikes, and being informed of the types of emergencies that can happen in your area and how to respond.
Since President Obama took office, the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency have worked aggressively to engage all of our partners in an effort to expand and solidify our entire national emergency response team, and to ensure that as a nation we are prepared for the next natural or man-made disaster.
While the efforts of our partners, which include other federal entities, the governors and local officials, local first responders, the private sector and faith based groups, go a long way, the truth is there is one member of the team whose success or failure to prepare will dictate the outcome of the next disaster: the public.
The reality is we cannot succeed unless everyone does their part. That is why during the month of September, National Preparedness Month, we encourage all Americans to take steps now to increase their personal preparedness.
September 15th also marked the start of Hispanic Heritage Month, and this year, we are focusing special attention on reaching out to the Hispanic community. In fact, a 2010 survey by The Advertising Council found that just 34 percent of Hispanic Americans report having created a family emergency plan, despite being our nation’s fastest growing population.
That’s why today, FEMA, working with The Advertising Council, is launching new Spanish-language public service advertisements that highlight the importance of preparing today to help reduce the consequences of a disaster tomorrow. The PSAs encourage everyone to visit FEMA's Spanish-language preparedness website, www.listo.gov , where families and individuals can download a family emergency plan, an emergency kit checklist and find other tips on how to better prepare for an emergency.
You can also check out the English version of the PSA.
Being personally prepared is not only important for your family, but for your entire community. En la unión está la fuerza.
Your decision now to have a plan and basic supplies, defines whether our first responders are able to focus precious resources on our most vulnerable citizens or whether they must exhaust those resources on those who could have and should have been prepared, but chose not to.
Being prepared strengthens our communities and saves lives. As we've seen time and time again, during emergencies, the fastest response is neighbor helping neighbor. So this September, please take the time to visit www.listo.gov or www.ready.gov. Join us in working to build stronger, more prepared communities.
Craig Fugate is the Administrator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency