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Changing the Messaging of Preparedness

Changing the Messaging of Preparedness

This country is failing to prepare. Not because we don't want to get prepared, it's because we're not getting the message. In a country as multi-cultural as the United States, the normal top-down strategy of government delivering the same message to everyone, is not working. This FEMA report categorizes the country according to the following preparedness profiles:

  • 14% saw preparedness as a "Part of Life" and were more likely to have started preparing or have been prepared for an extended period of time.
  • 21% were "Working on It" and have taken some preparedness actions but perceived low levels of risk.
  • 18% said preparedness was "On Their Mind" and perceived themselves to be at high risk, but were unlikely to act on fear and take preparedness actions.
  • 46% said preparedness was "Not on Their Radar" (FEMA, 2014).

The report concludes, "We've Failed Miserably at Preparedness" and explains the distressing results. Emergency Management comments on the report here saying, "the report suggests that it’s time to change strategies and discontinue the same top-down approaches like, “Buy a kit” and “Go to the website” because people aren’t paying attention. The report went on to suggest that "communities across the country have lost trust in government" and therefore speculated "that government is not the best entity to reach out to communities with a message of preparedness."

Kate Browne, a lead author of the FEMA report says, “to reach a unified culture of preparedness is probably possible, but only if the inherent variabilities of those communities are engaged with directly.” 

It's an unfortunate conundrum. We've often cited that more than two thirds of the country acknowledges they are unprepared - yet do nothing about it. Hopefully, a new bottoms up, culturally and socio-economically sensitive strategy will help change this.