In the wake of violent tornado outbreaks in 2011 and this spring, NOAA and FEMA have joined together to arm Americans with information and strategies to make it through severe weather. In the inaugural Severe Weather Preparedness Week, the agencies are placing special emphasis on motivating individuals to be leaders in readying their communities for all types of severe weather.
In other words, NOAA and FEMA want you to be “a force of nature” in severe weather planning by taking on a few simple responsibilities:
* Know your risk by understanding the types hazardous weather that can affect you and your family where you live and work
* Take action by developing an emergency plan and creating or refreshing an emergency kit; and educating yourself about weather warnings
* Being that force of nature by educating others about how to prepare and by sharing information about weather hazards through social networks before and during severe weather.
A clear aim of this campaign is for preparedness information and efforts to grow virally. NOAA says people are most inspired to prepare when they see others preparing.
Both agencies view digital connections as the means for spreading preparedness information.
“Mobile technology and social media ... offer great opportunities to show others how to prepare,” FEMA wrote on its website. “When you are aware of danger, take action and then tell those around you what you’ve done to get them to take the same steps.”
Each day this week, NOAA and FEMA will post information on their websites about how individuals can be better equipped to deal with severe weather.
NOAA Deputy Administrator Dr. Kathryn Sullivan discusses Severe Weather Preparedness Week and being a “force of nature”.
In the meantime, the agencies are enlisting volunteers to “pledge to prepare”in this nationwide effort.
In my view, this is a worthwhile effort if it’s successful in mobilizing more Americans to effectively spread weather information through their personal networks - for not just severe summer weather, but also winter storms.
Recall what I wrote after the January 26, 2011 rush hour snowstorm when thousands of commuters were stranded for hours:
I think the lesson learned is that we all need to do a better job disseminating and communicating information during weather emergencies or emergencies of any type. We have to blast the message out on across all media and all platforms. And it’s no longer just the responsibility of forecasters, the media, the government and emergency managers, but all of us via social media and our own personal networks.
There are more opportunities to spread the word than ever, and we all share the responsibility of communicating during hazardous situations. Capital Weather Gang readers and forecasters are weather savvy, so we bear a heightened responsibility in communicating with people we know to raise their awareness and understanding.