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Advance Warning or Sudden Disaster: Either Way, Are You Prepared?

With September being National Preparedness Month, we’ve been hearing a lot about how to prepare for emergencies. Indeed, hurricanes, fires, and other events over this past summer and early fall are reminders of the importance of being prepared, with or without advance warning. In an ideal world, the time to prepare for a disaster or emergency is of course prior to the event, with continued awareness of how to maintain readiness and to know what to do during and after an actual event.

Image of Emergency Preparedness Supplies

We are fortunate that many organizations are taking the notion of preparedness seriously. Whether an individual needs to know what to pack in an emergency kit or an organization needs to know what to stock for a “shelter in place” situation, many informational sites are available to answer those questions. New services are popping up right and left, including email alerts, text messaging for weather forecasts and alerts, and basic education and information.

Participate in the Shakeout!

The preparedness theme continues into October with the Great American Shakeout. While earthquakes are more likely on the west coast, they can happen anywhere, as our colleagues and friends in Washington DC learned in August of last year! The first Shakeout event was held in California in 2008, and now events are held in many states and even other countries. Some interesting history of how it all started is on the Shakeout Past, Present and Future web site.

Consider holding an earthquake education and preparedness event at your institution. Get started by learning more and registering. Then get ready to Drop, Cover, and Hold On! This printable handout is just one example of some of the great materials you can provide.

This year, drills will be on October 18th at 10:18 a.m. PDT. The How to Participate page offers specific ideas and steps for a variety of organizations. The page offers suggestions to help you Plan Your Drill, Get Prepared, and Share the Shakeout. The site provides links to numerous other resources with helpful tips for how to prepare, what to do while the ground is shaking, and what to do afterwards.

Image of Putting Down Roots in Earthquake Country handout

The Earthquake Country Alliance provides terrific resources, such as the handbook titled Putting Down Roots in Earthquake Country, in addition to several other useful titles. This organization is also responsible for the Dare to Prepare and the Spanish-language ¡Prepárate Hoy! campaigns for earthquake preparedness.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) is providing a number of visualization and alert tools for the public. Visit the Earthquake Hazards Program, to see maps and magnitudes of recent quakes anywhere in the world. You can also sign up for customized real-time alerts via text, email, and a variety of other communication mechanisms.

NLM’s Disaster Information Management Research Center (DIMRC)

This month, the National Library of Medicine’s Disaster Information Management Research Center (DIMRC) provided a series of emails to its listserv subscribers, with extensive lists of annotated resources. The first message focused on getting involved in disaster preparedness and response, while the second message provided resources geared to family and individual preparedness planning. As a pet owner myself, I was happy to see the final message, which included resources for taking care of pets and animals during disasters. To access these resource lists, visit the list archive, and look for the emails in September with the subject line “National Preparedness Month.” Be sure to visit the DIMRC web site for much more information. To stay up to date on disaster preparedness, you may subscribe to the listserv or the RSS feed, and follow DIMRC on Twitter!

Image of the Disaster Information Management Research Center home page

MLA Disaster Information Specialization Program

The Medical Library Association (MLA) Disaster Information Specialization Program, developed by MLA and the National Library of Medicine (NLM), is a continuing education program that provides participants the opportunity to expand their roles, by taking training in providing access to information for disaster and emergency preparedness. The goal of the Disaster Information Specialization Program is to develop the capacity of librarians and other interested professionals to support their institutions and communities throughout the disaster/emergency cycle of mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery.

The program is divided into two levels of participation: Basic and Advanced. The Basic Disaster Information Program is for those who desire a basic familiarity with disaster health information resources. The Advanced Disaster Information Program is for those who wish to gain additional training in disaster health information. Many of the courses are available on demand. After you register, you will receive an email with the login information and details for earning your certificate for participating. Courses are also available either in-person or via online sessions.

More details about required courses and training levels are included on the Disaster Information Specialization Program web site.

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