Preparedness is a lot like being a scout. Their motto, “Be prepared”, can be applied to all of life, but especially to disaster readiness. The question is--what are people waiting for?

The old adage, “People don't plan to fail; they fail to plan!” is never more true than after a disastrous event. How many of us think about and rehearse what we would do if we suddenly became the victims of a natural disaster, terrorist attack, fire or other unexpected event?

Would you know what to grab if you had only seconds to escape your house? The plans you've made in advance and the items you decide to take will determine how quickly you are able to rebound from disaster.

Especially after a momentous event, like Hurricanes Dennis, Katrina, and Stan, the earthquakes in Sumatra and Kashmir, and the Maharashtra floods in western India (all occurred in 2005), news media are filled with helpful tips and articles about how to better prepare yourself and your family for a natural or man-made event that negatively affects life, property, livelihood or industry often resulting in permanent changes to human societies, ecosystems and environment. Disasters manifest as hazards exacerbating vulnerable conditions and exceeding individuals' and communities' means to survive and thrive. (Wikipedia, October 14, 2005).

Reference and resource materials are available through local Red Cross, local, county, state and Federal governments, religious organizations, and private corporations.

Preparedness is not something hard, like remembering to pay bills on time or pick up dry cleaning, yet statistics show that the majority of us do nothing to very little to ensure our own survivability after a disaster.

A Red Cross survey taken in June 2004 found that the percentage of Americans who have created a family emergency plan on where to meet after a terror strike dropped from 40 percent in August 2003 to less than 32 percent in July 2004.

Less than 35 percent of the public believes that their home or workplace might be a target; down from 71 percent right after September 11, 2001, according to the Council for Excellence in Government.

Unprepared Americans fall into five categories, according to former American Red Cross President, Marsha Evans. They are the ‘head scratchers'-those who don't know where to find preparedness advice; ‘head in the sand' types who think preparedness is not important; ‘head in the clouds' folks who mistakenly believe they are ready; the ‘headset crowd' that is too busy and can't take the time to prepare; and those people who just don't think about preparedness or believe that preparing is somebody else's job.

The Red Cross survey also found that less than one in 10 families have created emergency kits, developed a family plan for disasters, and taken training to become better equipped at coping and responding to an event. (excerpted from John Mintz, Washington Post Staff Writer, Wednesday, July 21, 2004; Page A12.)

The City of Lawndale has materials available for distribution on how to take care of yourself, your family, and your community. Staff are on hand to assist with home hazard hunts, family emergency plan development, and emergency response and recovery skills training—all at no cost!

So-what are YOU waiting for?

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