The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that more than 1,150 national, regional, state and local organizations have joined the department to take part in National Preparedness Month. This nationwide effort encourages Americans to prepare for emergencies of all kinds in their homes, businesses, schools and communities. This year, the department is putting a particular focus on family emergency preparedness, reminding individuals to make themselves and their loved ones better prepared.

"This fall, the Department of Homeland Security and the National Preparedness Month Coalition are urging Americans to take a few basic steps to ensure that their families are prepared before emergencies happen," said Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. "Through events and activities across the country, every American will be reminded of the personal responsibility they have to keep their family safe if the unexpected occurs."

More than 1,150 public and private sector organizations representing every state in the nation are promoting emergency preparedness through hundreds of events and activities in communities across the country. National organizations such as Boy Scouts of America, The Council of Better Business Bureaus, National Volunteer Fire Council, Home Depot, ASPCA and the American Red Cross and many smaller regional, state and local groups are taking part in this important effort. Throughout September, DHS and coalition members are highlighting the importance of individual emergency preparedness and encouraging Americans to get an emergency supply kit, make a family emergency plan and be informed about the different types of emergencies that may affect them.

The goal of National Preparedness Month is to educate Americans about the importance of emergency preparedness and encourage individuals to take action. Throughout the year, DHS promotes individual emergency preparedness through the Ready Campaign and Citizen Corps as part of a broader national effort conducted by the department's Directorate for Preparedness.

While there is still a long way to go to ensure that all Americans have taken steps to prepare, there are indications of progress. A study conducted in June by the Advertising Council on behalf of the Department of Homeland Security's Ready Campaign recorded significant positive increases in preparedness behaviors. It found:

  • Ninety one percent of respondents said it is "very" or "somewhat" important for all Americans to be prepared for emergencies
  • From 2005 to 2006, the proportion of Americans who said they have taken any steps to prepare rose 10 points, from 45 percent to 55 percent

There were also several notable increases in key preparedness behaviors from 2004 to 2006:

  • Put together an emergency kit: 44 percent in 2004 to 54 percent in 2006
  • Created a family emergency plan: 32 percent in 2004 to 39 percent in 2006
  • Searched for info about preparedness: 28 percent in 2004 to 40 percent in 2006