Nationwide Effort Launched to Prepare Americans for Emergencies

The Department of Homeland Security and the American Red Cross are co-sponsoring National Preparedness Month 2005, a nationwide effort held in September to encourage Americans to prepare for emergencies in their homes, businesses and schools.

National Preparedness Month will provide Americans with a variety of opportunities to learn more about preparing for emergencies, including natural disasters and potential terrorist threats. Events, activities and messages across the nation will encourage individuals to get an emergency supply kit, make a family emergency plan, be informed about different threats and get involved in preparing their communities.

The initiative will officially launch with a public emergency preparedness fair on Sept. 1, 2005 at Union Station in Washington, D.C. During the event individuals will receive preparedness information and materials and learn about training opportunities.

"No community is truly prepared for a disaster until every individual, family and household takes personal responsibility for preparedness," said American Red Cross President and CEO Marsha J. Evans. "Red Cross chapters across the country are helping people learn how to create a family disaster plan so that each person knows what to do, where to go, and how to contact loved ones."

Throughout September, DHS and the American Red Cross will work with local, state and federal government organizations and the private sector to highlight the importance of public emergency preparedness. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) and Rep. Christopher Cox (R-CA) and Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) have agreed to serve as Congressional co-chairs of National Preparedness Month 2005. In addition, more than 125 national organizations have already joined the National Preparedness Month Coalition, which will distribute emergency preparedness information, host events and sponsor activities across the country.

"We are pleased to have the American Red Cross, which has long been a leader in emergency preparedness and response, co-sponsor National Preparedness Month 2005," said Chertoff. "The commitment of the American Red Cross and the members of National Preparedness Month Coalition are integral as we work to encourage all Americans to prepare for emergencies. As leaders in their communities, these organizations will help spread lifesaving information and move the entire nation toward a greater state of preparedness."

This will be the second annual National Preparedness Month. During the first National Preparedness Month, held in September 2004, a coalition of more than 80 organizations and all 56 states and territories held hundreds of events and activities.

For more information or to become a National Preparedness Month Coalition member, visit www.ready.gov.

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