As recent winter storms here in Ontario have once again illustrated, it’s always a good idea to be prepared for an emergency. We’re big on this concept at Wired, having put out a few emergency guides like How To Survive a Power Blackout and The Smarter Emergency Kit.
But, I figure the US Department of Homeland Security probably knows a little more about this area than we do. They tipped me off that as part of the "Ready" Campaign (designed to help families prepare for disasters), Homeland Security has launched a new, family-oriented Ready America web site (co-sponsored by the Ad Council).
The site includes a wealth of planning resources and includes aspects that are frequently left out of typical emergency preparedness guides. For example, there are forms for preparing emergency contact information for your family so that friends and relatives know how to reach you and where to find you (other than at your home) in the event of an emergency. An online tool walks you through the process of creating a family emergency plan. A wide range of PDF publications are available for download, including an emergency supply list, information for pet owners and emergency planning information for businesses. There are also kid-focused documents available, including an activity book that introduces children to the concept of being prepared for a disaster without being overly alarming. Instructional videos are provided and a video blog encourages people who have experienced an emergency situation to share their story with others.
A widget that can be embedded on other sites acts as a hub for emergency information: FEMA news feed, National Weather Service warnings, emergency contact information for all states and even FEMA and Ready Twitter feeds.
This is a comprehensive site for emergency planning, and you would expect that from Homeland Security, but the focus on family preparedness makes it especially useful. While it’s obviously targeted at US residents, most of this information and advice is applicable anywhere.
None of us likes to fixate on emergencies and natural disasters, but being prepared is just common sense. And if you have a family, your job is a little more complicated, with a lot more at stake. It’s well worth checking out Ready America to see if there’s anything you may have overlooked in your own planning.