This Citizen Corps News Digest is provided by FEMA's Individual & Community Preparedness Division to highlight community preparedness and resilience resources and activities recently announced by federal agencies and Citizen Corps partners.

DHS -FEMA Updates

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The Fire Factor

It's peak wildfire season for many states across the country. While these fires can start from natural causes, such as lightning, most wildfires are caused by humans, either accidentally – from cigarettes, campfires, or outdoor debris burning – or intentionally.

Wildfires threaten hundreds of home each year and cause millions of dollars in damage. Concerned about fire where you live? Here are some things you can do to make your home more resistant to catching fire and burning:

  • Clear roof and gutters of dead leaves, debris and pine needles that could catch embers;
  • Remove anything stored underneath decks or porches; and
  • Use fire-resistant material for landscaping and construction.

Want to take your wildfire preparedness to the next level? America's PrepareAthon! offers valuable preparedness information to help you take action and practice the steps necessary to keep yourself, your family and/or your organization safe. The How to Prepare for a Wildfire guide explains how to protect yourself and your property, and details the steps to take now so that you can act quickly when you, your home, or your business is in danger.


Sneaky Gas

When power outages occur after severe weather such as hurricanes or snow storms, using alternative sources of power can cause carbon monoxide (CO) to build up in your home and poison your family. CO is a colorless, odorless gas created by gas ranges, portable generators, and burning wood, and is also produced by running your car.

While hundreds of people die in the U.S. each year from accidental CO poisoning, this tragedy can be prevented. You should follow these important safety tips :

  • Operate portable generators outdoors in a well-ventilated location away from windows, doors, and vent openings;
  • Do not run your car inside a garage that is attached to your home, even if the garage door is open to the outside; and
  • Never use your oven or stove to heat your home.

Having a battery-powered or battery back-up CO detector in your home can also help protect you. Just be sure to check it every six months.

Since you can't see or smell carbon monoxide, it is important to recognize the most common symptoms of CO poisoning which include:

  • Shortness of breath;
  • Fatigue; and
  • Nausea.

CO poisoning can be confused with flu symptoms, food poisoning and other illnesses. If you think you're experiencing CO poisoning, get fresh air and seek medical attention immediately!


Safe Schools

It's America's Safe Schools Week ! Many schools and institutions of higher education are conducting activities designed to educate students, faculty and staff about school safety procedures. Creating and maintaining a safe school environment is a goal shared by all schools and districts, and there are many tools and resources available to help your school in this important activity. Check out for great resources which are designed to engage youth in emergency preparedness. Additionally, K-12 schools and institutions of higher education are working through America's PrepareAthon! to conduct drills, exercises and activities which are designed to increase knowledge of protective actions in advance of natural disasters.

For example, the University of Missouri-Kansas City and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln conducted ReadyCampus events to help students prepare for weather-related disasters, including tornadoes and winter storms. Campus drills and exercises were conducted, and students downloaded the FEMA app and participated in other activities designed to increase their knowledge of what to do when disaster strikes. Ready Campus is a partnership between these universities and FEMA Region VII that combines local first responders, emergency preparedness organizations, and community partners in an open and engaging atmosphere with college students.

Additionally, the Kentucky Center for School Safety 's PrepareAthon! recently conducted statewide tornado and earthquake drills at all public schools across the Commonwealth of Kentucky. This resulted in more than 1.3 million students, faculty and staff practicing specific actions which will help keep them safe in the event of a disaster. Check out the tools and resources available to you now and get started in planning your very own PrepareAthon! event.


Rescheduled Webinar: Citizen Corps and CERT Showcase

Due to a tornado warning in the National Capital Region on October 15 and a poor audio connection, we rescheduled the Citizen Corps and CERT Showcase Webinar for 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. (Eastern Time), Thursday, October 30. The webinar will highlight registration data collected from local Citizen Corps Councils and CERT programs last year and discuss updates to the registration system.

This webinar will focus on program strengths, document national trends, and also identify needs and potential areas of growth for Citizen Corps Councils and CERT Programs. We will also clarify how the National Program Offices use your registration data to demonstrate how your programs contribute to resilience at the local, county, tribal, and state levels, and to make the case for continued support for Citizen Corps and CERT.

In addition, the webinar will present recent enhancements to the registration website, as well as anticipated new features, such as a future capability allowing state and local programs to generate their own individual reports based on the data they've entered. This is intended to make it easier for programs to use their data to demonstrate the value they bring to their communities, justify continued support, highlight areas of growth, identify needs for new resources, and set strategic direction.

We hope to see you on the webinar! Additional details are below.


  • Thursday, October 30, 2014
  • 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time /10:00 a.m. Pacific Time

Join the Webinar


Cyber Security for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses and Entrepreneurs

It's Week Four of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM) , which focuses on what emerging and established businesses can do to protect their organizations, customers, and employees. Small and medium-sized businesses are increasingly becoming targets for cyber criminals, who recognize that they may not have the awareness or resources to protect themselves. Since the assets required to protect these businesses from cyber risks aren't as readily available as they are to larger industries, they must educate themselves on cybersecurity best practices to protect their assets.

Entrepreneurs also face a unique cybersecurity threat as their data includes valuable intellectual property that could be worth much more than even they realize, in addition to sensitive personnel data and financial spreadsheets.

As part of National Security Awareness Month 2014, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Stop.Think.Connect. campaign encourages all small and medium-sized businesses owners to practice safe Internet use. Here are a few steps you can take to protect your business:

  • Use and regularly update anti-virus and anti-spyware software on all computers;
  • Secure your Internet connection by using a firewall, encrypting information and hiding your Wi-Fi network; and
  • Require that employees use strong passwords and regularly change them.

For more information about how to practice good cybersecurity with your business, visit . To learn more about NCSAM 2014, click .


Dates for Your Calendar!


Disclaimer: The reader recognizes that the federal government provides links and informational data on various disaster preparedness resources and events and does not endorse any non-federal events, entities, organizations, services or products. Please let us know about other events and services for individual and community preparedness that could be included in future newsletters by contacting:

About FEMA

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.

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