September is National Preparedness Month

CRANSTON, RI – ( September 7, 2012 ) More than 200 years ago, the first practices of emergency management originated in New England. In 1803, a Congressional Act helped the residents of Portsmouth, New Hampshire recover from a devastating fire. The Act extended the deadline for payment of tariffs on imported goods. Another 125 years later, President Hoover started the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC) to dispense federal dollars after a disaster. The RFC is considered the first federal disaster response agency. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was created in 1979, and weather-related events were thought to be the disasters we might face.

Today, the world of emergency management has expanded to include topics like terrorism, cyber security, pandemics, and biological and chemical threats. But the basic principle of being prepared has remained steadfast.

In 2012, society has become dependent on amenities and creature comforts. We flip a switch, and lights come on. We turn the thermostat dial, and heat warms the room. Our phones give us 24-hour access to news and information. For many Rhode Islanders – and Americans – these conveniences have decreased our ability to be self sufficient and to be prepared.

September is National Preparedness Month, and it is the perfect time to make sure your family, your home, and your business are ready to face the next disaster or emergency. Personal preparedness does not have to be expensive or time-consuming. Make a list of emergency contacts (phone, cell phone, email) and give a copy to every family member. Gather items that you already have (flashlights, non-perishable foods) and start making an emergency kit. Collect important documents like wills, birth certificates, or photo identifications, and put them in a waterproof container. Learn about evacuation routes and shelter locations. Stay informed. Follow the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency (RIEMA) on Twitter @RhodeIslandEMA or visit us on Facebook at RI Emergency Management Agency.

For many Rhode Islanders, being prepared should be more than an idea – it should be standard practice. An estimated 40 percent of people have special healthcare, access, or functional needs. It might not be obvious, but they require extra assistance during an emergency. If you or anyone in your family has special needs, enroll in the Rhode Island Special Needs Emergency Registry. Enrollment does not guarantee assistance, but it does allow first responders to plan for the needs of the community. To register, visit or call 946-9996.

National Preparedness Month lasts 30 days; however, preparedness efforts should continue throughout the year. We are in this together. We need to be able to help our friends, neighbors, and colleagues. It truly does take the whole community to have an effective response. This month, take the first step towards being ready. Make a kit, make a plan, stay informed. Be Ready Rhody!


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Avatar About the Author: The Rhode Island Small Business Journal is a printed monthly magazine and an online resource for the aspiring and start-up entrepreneur and small business owner.

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