September is National Preparedness Month and this year’s theme is “A Time to Remember. A Time to Prepare.”  Sunday, September 11, was a very sad day, a reminder of the tragedy caused by terrorists who cold-heartedly took the lives of thousands of hard-working people.  It certainly was an event we will always remember with compassion.  This year’s theme of National Preparedness Month not only asks us to remember, but be prepared. 

Editor’s Note: I found this article, written by John Mintz, published in the Washington Post, July 29, 2004, regarding Family Emergency Preparedness.  As you continue, bear in mind the date this was written, and see if you don’t agree that public apathy toward being prepared continues today?

Are you prepared?

If you’re not prepared, which one of the following categories – defined by the American Red Cross – fits you?

  • Head scratcher – Doesn’t know where to find preparedness advice
  • Head in the sand – Believes preparation is unimportant
  • Head in the clouds – Mistakenly believes they are ready
  • Headset crowd – Too busy and can’t find time to prepare
  • Heady unawareness – People who “simply haven’t thought about preparedness”

Planning for your basic needs

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, www.dhs.gov  or www.ready.gov  lists six general categories of readiness for disaster. Begin your planning with:

  • Water and food
  • Portable kit
  • Supply checklists
  • Special needs items
  • Safe Indoor Air

To get preparedness information locally, pick up planning guides at local fire stations or American Red Cross.

The percentage of Americans who have created an emergency plan for a terrorist attack has dropped in the last year, along with the proportion of Americans who believe terrorists may strike near their home or workplace, according to two new studies released July 20, 2004.

Civil preparedness experts said these and other numbers are going in precisely the wrong direction, with U.S. authorities warning that al-Qaeda is determined to strike the United States this fall (2004) . The information was released at a conference at George Washington University.

“We need to narrow the universe of the unprepared, of those we need to worry about in a catastrophic situation, and it is not going to be easy,” Red Cross President Marsha Evans said in a speech outlining her group’s survey on emergency preparedness. “Every one of those unprepared Americans is a potential barrier to the effectiveness of our response to any disaster.”

The Red Cross survey, conducted last month by Wirthlin Worldwide, found that the percentage of Americans who have created a family emergency plan on where to meet after a terror strike has dropped from 40 percent in August 2003 to 32 percent today (2004).

The percentage of people who expressed concern that terrorists might strike near their home or workplace has declined more dramatically, from 71 percent immediately after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks to about half today, according to a separate poll also released July 20 by the non-profit Council for Excellence in Government.

Preparedness specialists believe that the number of people readying themselves for the aftermath of a terrorist attack has dropped as time has passed since the Sept. 11 strike without another attack on the United States.

U.S. officials and counter-terrorism specialists say encouraging Americans to stockpile supplies for an attack, prepare themselves emotionally and take action to ready their families is vital to both self-protection and bouncing back from any strike that does occur.The Red Cross poll also found that the percentage of people who had assembled home emergency kits remained stable between 2003 and this year (2004), at 42 percent. But only one in 10 families have taken all three steps considered crucial for preparation: creating emergency kits and family plans for reuniting after a disaster, as well as getting training in first aid, the Red Cross study said.

Some public-relations experts said stepped-up marketing efforts for such citizen involvement could ingrain terror preparedness into the popular consciousness just as the ad campaigns to buckle seatbelts in the 1980s had children reminding their parents to secure their safety restraints. Those ads are credited with increasing seatbelt use from 10 percent in 1981 to 79 percent in 2003.

 A recent poll (2004), found that about 90% of Americans doubt that they would leave their homes during a terrorist attack, even if asked by government officials to do so.

Do you think these figures are the same, better, or worse today?  Where do you stand?