Thursday, July 21, 2011

September is National Preparedness Month

FEMA Encourages Americans to Participate in September’s National Preparedness Month
Eighth Annual National Preparedness Month in September: "A Time to Remember. A Time to Prepare," Encourages Americans to Take Simple Steps to Prepare for Emergencies

WASHINGTON - The Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Ready Campaign, in partnership with Citizen Corps and the Ad Council, today announced the launch of new web tools that will make it easier for individuals and organizations throughout the nation to join the 2011 National Preparedness Month (NPM) coalition and pledge their support to help prepare their families, businesses and communities for emergencies of all kinds.

The eighth annual NPM will kickoff this September, using the slogan: "A Time to Remember. A Time to Prepare." The campaign seeks to transform awareness into action by encouraging all Americans to take the necessary steps to ensure that their homes, workplaces and communities are prepared for disasters and emergencies of all kinds.

"As we move forward with planning for this year's events and activities, we also recognize that this September marks the ten year anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks," said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. "By doing what we can to ensure that our communities, and our nation, are prepared to respond and recover from all types of disasters and hazards, we honor the memory of those who were lost that day."

Individuals and groups can now register to become NPM coalition members by visiting Once registered, members have access to a toolkit that includes suggestions for activities and events, templates, articles, banners and customizable materials. Coalition members also have access to an events calendar allowing them to post and promote preparedness events, share success stories, and participate in national and regional discussion forums to engage with fellow coalition members and FEMA representatives.

By hosting events, promoting volunteer programs and sharing emergency preparedness information, coalition members can help ensure that their communities are prepared for emergencies. Becoming a coalition member is easy and free, so register now to get started. Nearly 2,000 coalition members have already joined this year's campaign.
While NPM is held each September, FEMA's Ready Campaign promotes individual emergency preparedness at home, in the workplace, and throughout America's communities throughout the year. Ready is a national campaign, produced in partnership with The Ad Council, designed to educate and empower Americans to prepare for and respond to all types of emergencies, including natural disasters and potential terrorist attacks.

The Ready Campaign's websites ( and and toll-free numbers (1-800-BE-READY and 1-888-SE-LISTO) provide free emergency preparedness information and resources available in English and Spanish. Additionally, through FEMA's partnership with the Ad Council, public service announcements are available to increase the American public's involvement in preparedness.


Friday, July 15, 2011

12 Reasons to take time off

Jeannie Walters is the founder of 360Connext, a Chicago-based consulting firm specializing in the cornerstones of customer experience: customer engagement, employee engagement, and connections like social media. She is a board member of the Chicago chapter of the Social Media Club and a member of Faith Popcorn’s Talent Bank, a group of experts tapped for trend-setting information.

It’s that time of year, and many of us are taking some time to recharge and rest up. I have become a believer in the necessity. I used to work, work, and work some more and basically complain to anyone who would listen that I couldn’t take time off.

Looking back, it was a fool’s game. Without time off, you miss out on some of your best “work.”

I’m heading to a week of vacation soon and thought it was a good time to discuss the lessons I’ve learned from dedicating myself to finding time for vacation each year.

No. Matter. What.

Here are the 12 most important reasons to take time off:

1. Your loved ones, remember them?

It’s easy in this 24/7, constantly connected world to work too much. Even when we’re not working, we’re still checking email, sharing blogs on Twitter, and essentially leaving half our brains with our work. Taking some time off with people you care about (and focusing on those in-the-moment times) reminds you why they’re your loved ones. They matter more than anything.

2. This is your brain on vacation.

I’ve found it takes a few days to shut off the manic, ever-present and ever-busy chatter in my head. The “OMG I forgot to do xyz” or the “If I don’t find time to do xyz, my business will never be what I want it to be” drifts away after the third day. I’ve found I focus on amazing things like hummingbirds, novels, and hearing myself belly-laugh in a way that’s been gone for a while.

3. The unbearable lightness of being unscheduled

I go out of my way to not have too much of a plan on vacation. The decadence of enjoying a second cup of coffee while still not having a clue what the day holds is something rare and sacred. My body lets go of the tension that I carry around in my neck and shoulders the 51 other weeks of the year.

4. The realization that life/work/committees go on without you.

We all love to make ourselves a little too important. How can our businesses, our organizations, or the PTA go on without us? Take a week away, and it becomes crystal clear. Not only can they go on, but they should. Take that, Ego.

5. Creative inspiration when you least expect it.

Gaze at the mountains, study the waves, or take in the view from a hammock; you’ll be amazed at what comes to you.

6. Discovery, discovery, discovery.

I like all types of vacations—adventuring, exploring new places, and relaxing with nothing to do. Whichever kind you take, you’re bound to discover something new. A small town in Michigan might bring you a new favorite beer discovery. A tour of Europe might lead you to a new favorite artist. Whatever it is, never stop discovering. It’s good for your whole being. Vacation helps you do that.

7. Time away helps clients, employees, bosses ,and others appreciate you more.

It’s not easy to tell someone you’ll be “offline” for any amount of time, especially if it’s saying it to the demanding boss or client. Doing it, however, makes them respect the time you give them and the value you bring even more. Living without you for a week could be just what they need.

8. Respect yourself.

The very act of saying, “I’m away, and I’m not working for you during this time,” helps set boundaries. Not only do demanding clients and bosses need this, but you do, too. Valuing yourself enough to say, “I deserve a vacation,” does wonders for self-respect. And, that, my friend, is priceless.

9. Find out how the other half live.

Those of us who check blogs daily, tweet like it’s life support, and write blogs as part of our living begin to think everyone lives like this. News flash: Most of them don’t. They run quaint art galleries without Web sites, they serve coffee in small ceramic cups, they sell bait, and some even whittle. Meet your global neighbors.

10. Disconnect to reenergize.

It’s difficult. Believe me, I know. But disconnecting from email, texts, tweets, and check-ins creates this magical space to just be. Let it happen. Connect with what’s right in front of you. Be. There.

11. Follow fewer rules to really expand your mind.

Rules are all around us. Blog on Mondays. Laundry every Friday. Don’t be a minute late to pick-up at camp. All of these things are important, but on vacation you can toss most rules out the window. This type of magic allows you to return looking at the world with a wider lens. If you didn’t have rules, what could you accomplish? It’s exciting to test it out.

12. Find your smile.

I’m lucky because I love what I do. But I have bad days. I have busy days and weeks. I have frustrating relationships with technology. Just because I love it doesn’t mean I skip through every day with a song in my heart and a smile on my face. Vacation, if I follow the first 11 ideas, helps me find the smile that is in there all the time. I think I smile a lot anyway, but on vacation, I find my inner smiles in ways that support every other aspect of me.

Enjoy your vacation. Don’t worry about sending postcards—much less posting smartphone photos to Facebook. We’ll just catch up when you get back.

Monday, July 11, 2011


-Whole Community Answers to Pacific NW Wildfire Threats-

Wildfire experts and weather specialists have predicted a low-risk, late-starting wildfire season for the Pacific Northwest this summer, but emergency managers caution against complacency. As tall grasses and foliage dry out—the likelihood of brush, range and timber fires increases, and according to FEMA Regional Administrator Ken Murphy, even a mild wildfire season—and there are never any guarantees—begs the question: What if it’s your woods that are burning?

“An informed, responsible and committed public can play a major role in safeguarding property and saving lives. Our firefighters are well-trained, well-resourced and totally dedicated—but they can’t do it alone,” said Murphy. “Planning for disasters means that we must plan for the Whole Community, including people of different ages and those with various access and functional needs.”

Murphy encourages all homeowners to exercise extreme caution with grills, campfires, trash fires and other heat sources, and to embrace the commonsense commitment to pre-disaster wildfire preparedness accepted in more traditionally recognized wildfire-prone areas. “Talk with your local fire department or forestry office,” said Murphy. “Stay abreast of local burn bans and changing weather conditions. Talk with your neighbors. After all, a community is only as safe as its least prepared member.”

Common sense wildfire preparedness measures include creating a Safety Zone or Defensible Perimeter:
• Establish firebreaks around the perimeter of structures, power poles and property.
• Cut back flammable weeds and brush, and remove branches within 15 feet of the ground.
• Mow regularly and rake leaves, limbs and twigs.
• Landscape with fire resistant plants.
• Keep roofs, chimneys and gutters clean.
• Install smoke detectors on every floor, and near sleeping areas.
• Stack firewood away from your home. Store combustible materials only in approved containers.
• Keep fire tools (shovel, rake, water bucket and ladders) handy.
• Clear overgrowth from house numbers and street signs
• Clear driveways and access roads so fire vehicles have room to maneuver.
• Plan and rehearse family evacuation plans.
• Don’t overlook adequate insurance coverage. Sit down with your insurance agent and make sure that coverage is still adequate and up to date for the hazards you face.

It is also smart to keep important personal documents quickly available should you need to evacuate. Consider collecting your driver’s license, passport and other identification, birth and marriage certificates, Social Security card, insurance policies, tax records, wills, deed or lease and stocks and bonds. Also know where your main turn-off switches and valves are for electricity, water and gas.
Evacuation kit contents should include:
• Flashlights.
• Battery-powered radio and extra batteries.
• First Aid Kit.
• Medicines, prescriptions and eyeglasses.
• Water.
• Change of clothes.
• Sleeping bags and pillows.
FEMA’s Resolve to be Ready in 2011 campaign promotes Whole Community involvement in disaster preparedness. For more information on protecting your family and your home from wildfires, go to:,, or For more information on the Ready Campaign and Citizen Corps, visit, and

Follow FEMA online at,, and Follow Administrator Craig Fugate's activities at Social media links are provided for reference only. FEMA does not endorse non-government websites, companies or applications.

FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.