Special Feature: Safety and Preparedness

Safety and Preparedness photo collageEmergencies and disasters can strike quickly and without warning, forcing families to evacuate their neighborhoods or confining them to their homes.

Most people believe they're prepared to handle the effects of these disasters, but research shows the opposite. People who believe themselves to be prepared often aren't as prepared as they think.

Every year, communities across the country are challenged by incidents that threaten the safety of residents and confirm the need to continuously enhance emergency preparedness.

National Preparedness Month is recognized every September and serves as an opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of emergency preparedness. It's a chance to encourage all Americans to better prepare their homes and communities for emergencies, and to recognize the contributions made by our nation's emergency response personnel.

Knowing what to do in the case of an emergency is an individual's best protection and responsibility. For families, there are tools that exist to help in the development of an emergency plan.

Incidents of mass violence and terrorism, including mass shootings and bombings, present unique challenges to the communities in which they occur. The Office for Victims of Crime has developed the Helping Victims of Mass Violence & Terrorism online toolkit, which provides guidance and resources to help communities develop a comprehensive victim assistance plan that can be incorporated into an emergency response plan.

From a law enforcement perspective, agencies can leverage existing resources while enhancing public safety through volunteer programs. These programs allow agencies and officers to focus on policing and enforcement functions by providing supplemental and support services. At the same time, such programs create valuable ties between law enforcement and members of the community.

Individuals can learn about opportunities to get involved and help build capacity for first responders. With proper training and education, civilian volunteers expand the resources available to states and local communities.

In recognition of National Preparedness Month, NCJRS offers this information for communities, first responders, and those who wish to volunteer before, during, or after an incident. Please select a page from the "Safety and Preparedness" box to learn more.