Building and Sustaining Preparedness: A National Campaign

Make it simple, easy, and part of everyday life

Pioneering work done after the Loma Prieta Earthquake (1989) where grants were given to community-based organizations to fund activities to enhance preparedness resulted in lessons that have not been remembered nor applied well after Sept. 11, 2001. Fundamentally, the most important lesson is "make it simple, easy, and a part of everyday life." When provided 1,000-item lists of "stuff" to buy, or lists of "gotta do's" for disaster prep, generally people revert to the comfortable confines of Denial (mostly, "it won't happen to me.") What CBOs in CA did in the early 90s was produce simple, "one thing per month" calendars; did demonstrations of a simple family communications plan; had small groups do simple "drop-cover-hold-on" drills in public places. The more people are given long lists of "Must do's" and "have to buys", the less likely they will do anything, and is why we haven't seen much progress other than spot activities in local areas that had a disaster. We must get away from the "telling" and the "selling" and move into the "showing" of our neighbors (that is, people who live in the area being served) doing the right things, simply, quickly, and for free. Finally, we must be sensitive to what social science has taught us, and make disaster prep part of everyday life. No longer say "rotate your food every 6 months" but show people buying a few extra cans of soup one day and placing them in their disaster kit while taking out those that were there to put in the pantry and other daily things.



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Idea No. 806