Preparedness Newsletter

This Digest is provided by FEMA's Individual & Community Preparedness Division to highlight community preparedness and resilience resources, an important part of FEMA's mission to help people before, during, and after disasters. We're building a culture of preparedness together.

February 2021 Individual and Community Preparedness Newsletter

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Ready Tips

Be Prepared for Winter Storms

A white flurry of snow can look pretty outside your window, but winter storms can lead to a variety of risks, such as car accidents and power outages.

You’ll be likelier to enjoy the winter wonderland a storm leaves behind if you prepare ahead of time. Try to stock up on extra groceries and prescription medications in case it’s hard to leave your home for a few days.

Here are some tips to help ensure you stay safe:

  • Learn your area’s risk for winter storms. The Emergency Alert System and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio provide emergency alerts. If you see a winter storm watch, it means that your area may experience severe winter weather within the next 48 hours. A winter storm warning could mean that at least 5 inches of snow is expected in the next 12 hours or 7 inches in the next 24 hours — or that it is already occurring.

  • If you are under a winter storm warning, stay off the roads and stay indoors. If you must drive, reduce your speed, and allow plenty of time when stopping for red lights.

  • Heavy snow, ice, and wind can lead to power outages. Prepare by having extra batteries and flashlights. You also need water and a supply of food that doesn’t need to be cooked. Only use generators outside, more than 20 feet away from your home’s doors and windows.

  • Reduce the risk of a heart attack by avoiding overexertion when shoveling and walking in the snow. Masks may make it difficult to breathe, especially while shoveling. If you are unable to wear a mask, keep a distance of at least six feet between yourself and those who are not part of your household.
  • Check on neighbors while physical distancing. Consider connecting by phone, email, text, video chat, and/or via social media.

Visit for more information.

February is Central U.S. Earthquake Awareness Month

According to the data from the 2020 National Household Survey on Disaster Preparedness, only 27% of individuals who live in earthquake-prone areas correctly identified “Drop, Cover, and Hold On!” as the best protective action to take during an earthquake. Since an earthquake can occur anywhere and at any time, everyone should take a little time to practice Drop, Cover, and Hold On!

When you Drop, crawl under something that will protect you from falling debris. While you are seeking Cover, protect your head and neck and bend over to protect your vital organs. After finding Cover (away from windows, but close to an interior wall), Hold On until the shaking stops. Don’t be caught unprepared for an earthquake. Plan and practice Drop, Cover, and Hold On!

To learn more about earthquake awareness, visit the Central United States Earthquake Consortium.


Collaborating to Respond to Health Needs

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to surge across the country, two volunteer groups are teaming up to help. Community Emergency Response Teams (CERTs), sponsored by FEMA, and the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC), organized by the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, are working together to tackle a range of health needs. Some partnerships are new and formed during the pandemic, while others have existed for years.

The CERT Program educates volunteers about preparing for hazards that may affect their area. It also trains members in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, search and rescue, and helping with medical needs. MRC volunteers include medical and public health professionals, as well as other community members without healthcare backgrounds. MRC units engage these volunteers to strengthen public health, improve emergency response capabilities, and build community resiliency. Read more...

CBOs: Determine Essential Activities Now to Ensure Smoother Sailing During a Disaster

Have you ever thought about how your organization would stay operational during a disaster or unplanned incident? Whether your community-based organization is a nonprofit, small business, or faith-based organization, a key part of preparedness planning is determining the activities you need to do to stay open. Taking the time to map out your basic functions now will be helpful when rushing to maintain services during an emergency.

Determining essential activities is the fourth of 10 actions that organizations can take to help ensure they are able to run as smoothly as possible during a disaster. These actions are outlined in FEMA’s new Organizations Preparing for Emergency Needs (OPEN) trainingRead more...


Youth in Action: Get to know YPC’s Maxwell Hahn

*Note to Readers: The Kids' Korner section is now Youth in Action. This section features young people leading in disaster preparedness and making a difference in their community.

Maxwell Hahn, a second-year member of FEMA’s Youth Preparedness Council (YPC), says he’s always been interested in finding ways to help people. But he sometimes felt held back because of his age. When he was 15, he tried to volunteer at a hospital but was told he was too young.

Nevertheless, the Pennsylvania teen has racked up several major accomplishments. He’s an Eagle Scout and has earned an amateur radio license. He has served as a member of his county’s youth advisory board to educate students about drug and alcohol abuse. He is also a trained Skywarn spotter with the National Weather Service, reporting severe weather as it happens.

Hahn continued his commitment to community service last year when he began a job as a pharmacy technician. This year, he’s is helping administer COVID-19 vaccines to long-term care residents. After high school, Hahn plans to major in computational mathematics and political science in college. He wants to someday work for the federal government, perhaps with the National Security Agency. Read more…

Start Young to Make Saving a Habit

America Saves Week encourages everyone to build savings, including youth. It’s held the last week of February, and Friday, February 28 will be dedicated to the theme of “Save as a Family.”

Here are some tips to help children understand the importance of saving:

  • Does your child want a new video game or toy? Setting a goal and helping your child put aside money from a gift or allowance can begin a habit of saving.

  • Help your children open savings accounts, either at an online bank or one they visit in person after the pandemic.

  • If you can afford it, consider a “matching plan” for your child’s savings: You put in, say, 25 cents for every dollar saved. Then, encourage your child to chart how the money grows.

  • Once your teen has a job, help them save automatically. Encourage them to set up a savings program so that some of their earnings go straight into a savings account. This can be done through automatic transfers or splitting direct deposit between accounts.

  • Help your teens budget and track what they spend in a month. Talk about how to estimate monthly expenses and how much to save from each paycheck to build up savings.

Looking for more ideas? Try these free resources:

The Jump$tart Coalition promotes financial literacy and education for all ages.

Apply for the Youth Preparedness Council!

Do you know a teen who has a passion for preparedness? FEMA is accepting applications for its 2021 Youth Preparedness Council (YPC). Since 2012, FEMA has brought youth from across the Nation together. Each year, teens apply to the YPC for an opportunity to join FEMA in encouraging emergency preparedness. Teens serve on the YPC for two years.

As part of the YPC, members can build leadership skills and represent their schools and communities. They also share their perspectives, feedback, and opinions with FEMA. The YPC gives youth the chance to meet peers from across the country and work on projects, such as preparedness fairs for their communities. A virtual summit in July gives members a chance to meet each other and hear from FEMA experts.

The application period is open to teens in grades 8-11 until March 7, 2021. Learn more on Ready Kids and apply here!

YPC Application Webinar

Teens interested in applying for FEMA’s Youth Preparedness Council (YPC) can learn more about the process and have their questions answered in a webinar on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021 at 7 p.m. ET. The webinar will walk students through the application process and give applicants a glimpse of what it’s like to be on the YPC. Online applications must be completed by 11:59 p.m. PST on March 7, 2021. Please register for this webinar in advance here.

If you have any questions, please contact us via email at

To learn more about the Youth Preparedness Council, visit


Find Out How to Save for the Unexpected

Would you consider yourself financially resilient if faced with an emergency? Starting an emergency savings fund or increasing what you save can help you become more financially resilient. Check out and participate in America Saves Week during the week of February 22! Follow along the themes for each day to learn more about different ways that can help you and your family save for emergencies.

  • Monday, February 22| Save Automatically

  • Tuesday, February 23 | Save for the Unexpected

  • Wednesday, February 24 | Save to Retire

  • Thursday, February 25 | Save by Reducing Debt

  • Friday, February 26 | Save as a Family

To encourage emergency savings, FEMA has joined forces with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and America Saves to host a free webinar. Experts will share tips, tools, and insights to help you wherever you are on your emergency savings journey. The webinar will take place from 1 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. (ET) on Tuesday, February 23.

If you’d like to get started ahead of the webinar, check out some of FEMA’s free resources, such as the Emergency First Aid Kit (EFFAK) and the Disaster Survivor’s Assistance Checklist to begin your financial resilience journey today!

Register for the webinar here.

EFFAK Animations Coming Soon

It can be hard to know where to start when preparing your finances. That’s why FEMA will be breaking down the steps to be financially resilient in a series of videos that make the Emergency First Aid Kit (EFFAK) easier to complete. The EFFAK offers guidance on organizing and securing important documents. It also provides advice on managing finances, offers insights on credit scores, and describes what to expect should a disaster strike your community.

The new EFFAK animations will give you more clarity about managing your household’s financial and legal documents, as well as medical records, to be prepared for an emergency. Having everything in one place will make you more financial resilient if the unexpected hits.

Stay tuned for the animations coming in April! They will debut during National Financial Capability Month 2021, a campaign that ICPD participates in with the Financial Literacy and Education Commission (FLEC) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).


Important Dates


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