New DHS Ads Focus on Family Emergency Safety

Dec. 6, 2006
Forget about terrorists. Do you know where your children are?

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Advertising Council unveiled new public service advertisements (PSAs) in support of the Ready Campaign. Earlier ad campaigns for Ready, a national public service advertising campaign designed to educate and empower Americans to prepare for and respond to emergencies, focused on the frightening possibility of more terrorist attacks on U.S. soil.

The new ads, however, take a closer-to-home approach. The new public service announcements (PSAs) highlight the fact that many families have not yet taken the steps needed to prepare for emergencies including getting an emergency supply kit, making a family emergency plan and learning more about different emergencies and their appropriate responses.

"These new ads will encourage all Americans to take some basic steps to prepare their families for emergencies," said Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. "By simply taking a little time to sit down together and make an emergency plan, families can help answer important questions, such as where to meet, how to communicate with each other and what to do in the event of an emergency."

Real Families

The new documentary-style television and radio ads feature real families discussing their emergency plans, or lack of and ask, "Is your plan any better?" In one PSA, Laura Bush encourages Americans to take some basic steps to prepare their families for all types of emergencies.

The Ad Council has declared Ready one of the most successful campaigns in its more than 60-year history. As of Sept. 30, 2006, the campaign's Web site has received more than 1.9 billion hits and 24.3 million unique visitors. The toll-free number has received more than 272,000 calls, and more than 9.7 million Ready materials have been requested or downloaded from the Web site.

"We're very proud of the progress we've seen with the Ready campaign, but there are still too many Americans that haven't taken any steps to prepare for emergencies," said Ad Council President and CEO Peggy Conlon. "The real families in these new spots will resonate with audiences as they illustrate the need for every family to create a family emergency plan."

While there is still a long way to go to ensure that all Americans have taken steps to prepare, there are indications of progress. A study conducted in June recorded significant positive increases in preparedness behaviors. It found:

  • 91 percent of respondents said it is "very" or "somewhat" important for all Americans to be prepared for emergencies.
  • From 2005 to 2006, the proportion of Americans who said they have taken any steps to prepare rose 10 points, from 45 percent to 55 percent.

There were also several notable increases in key preparedness behaviors from 2004 to 2006. Families that:

  • Put together an emergency kit: 44 percent in 2004 to 54 percent in 2006
  • Created a family emergency plan: 32 percent in 2004 to 39 percent in 2006
  • Searched for info about preparedness: 28 percent in 2004 to 40 percent in 2006
About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

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