Welcome to the Pass It On Center Emergency Management Blog! This venue serves as a place to discuss, share, explore and provide resources for the AT Reuse Community and Emergency Management. Feel free to join our current discussion, create a new topic, post a comment or just hang out and learn something new.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Join America’s PrepareAthon

It may be the final week of National Preparedness Month but since disasters can strike at any time, preparedness should occur throughout the year. Join America’s PrepareAthon by registering today for the Great ShakeOut Day of Action earthquake drill.
On October 17 at 10:17 AM join millions of people worldwide as they drop, cover and hold on for earthquake preparedness. The Great ShakeOut was organized to help your community prepare for and recover from an earthquake, to encourage you to update emergency plans and supplies, and to secure your space in order to prevent damage and injuries during disaster. Last year over 21 million practiced “Drop, Cover, Hold On.” Don’t be left out, take action to prepare!
Follow @PrepareAthon for all things disaster preparedness!
For additional resources on how to protect your family during an earthquake, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and don’t forget to download the American Red Cross earthquake app to receive alerts. You can also make disaster preparation fun for the whole family with Beat the Quake, an interactive game to test your preparedness know-how!
Don’t forget to download the latest FEMA mobile app with its new feature Disaster Reporter for you to share photos of disaster damage in your area and show how your community is recovering. 

Mobile Devices in Times of Disasters

When disasters strike, survivors often turn to the tools at their fingertips, like a smartphone or tablet, to look for disaster assistance. Statistics show that in Fiscal Year 2012, more disaster survivors turned to mobile devices to apply for disaster assistance on DisasterAssistance.gov than ever before—21,290 to be exact. With this in mind, the Disaster Assistance Improvement Program (DAIP) teamed up with its development partner, the Department of Labor's Benefits.gov team, to further improve DisasterAssistance.gov access for people on the go.

The team primarily focused on enhancing the mobile user experience through responsive Web design to the point of registration. The site now detects the user's browser resolution and renders the Web page for either desktop or mobile viewing, eliminating the need for a separate mobile website.

On a mobile device, survivors can find disaster assistance on DisasterAssistance.gov that meets their personal needs using new sliding sub menus. With one touch, survivors can access the most important information on the site's new quick links bar and docked footer. DAIP also optimized the site's content, layout and navigation to ensure a consistent experience for survivors visiting DisasterAssistance.gov on their desktop or mobile device.

DAIP also made it easier for survivors to find and sort through frequently asked questions (FAQs) and to peruse the 70-plus forms of assistance (FOAs) through a new expand/collapse functionality. Survivors can now use the site's new Share button to refer others to useful Web pages, with the option of emailing or sharing links on Facebook, Twitter or other social media channels from anywhere on the site. DAIP also rebranded the core site functions—Find Assistance, Apply Online and Check Your Status—on the homepage, providing survivors quick access to the functions they utilize most on DisasterAssistance.gov.

DAIP's successful enhancement with regard to responsive Web design has carved a path for future updates that improve the disaster survivor's experience throughout the entire website. But for now, DAIP asks everyone to be proactive and save DisasterAssistance.gov to your smartphones, tablet devices and desktops to access all the recovery resources the government has to offer before a disaster strikes. Remember, September is preparedness month and this is one simple way to make sure you and your family are ready!

Monday, June 17, 2013

GAO Releases Report on Nation’s Emergency Alert System

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released the report “Emergency Alerting: Capabilities Have Improved, but Additional Guidance and Testing are Needed.”

The report reviews the changing capabilities of the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) in addition to the results of the nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS). Primarily, the report highlights that while IPAWS has the capability to better disseminate alerts and warnings through the creation of the alert aggregator, barriers to implementation remain, including insufficient guidance, inability to test the IPAWS system, and insufficient public outreach.

The report also notes that during the 2011 nationwide test of EAS, approximately 82% of reporting broadcasters and cable operators received the alert and only 61% of  those reporting were able to redistribute the alert due to technical failures at public entry point (PEP) stations, shortened test length, and outdated monitoring assignments. As noted by the report, the implementation of IPAWS may help overcome some of the limitations traditionally seen in the “effectiveness of the national-level EAS.” 

Specifically, IPAWS will help to disseminate alerts and warnings to a larger portion of the population through dissemination in many modalities including radio, television, mobile alerts and “messages to specialized alerting devices for individuals with disabilities.”


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

June is National Safety Month

June is National Safety Month. Are you prepared? Natural disasters and fires can occur anywhere, at any time. Take the time during National Safety Month to practice your emergency drills with all your family members, and prepare an emergency kit filled with water, nonperishable food, a flashlight and blankets. Take into consideration your functional and access needs when preparing for an emergency. Tips on creating an effective plan and kit are available through the National Safety Council. Sign up today to receive free resources. http://goo.gl/k4gE9

Monday, June 10, 2013

Using Hashtags Efectively During a Crisis

Here are five pointers for using hashtags effectively during a crisis. Basically, you want to ensure that your tweets are planned for ease of retweeting in a crisis. Hashtags need to be:
  • Compact – 10 characters or less. And remember that if you are linking, the tweet needs to be less 112 characters or less.
  • Simple and easy to understand, i.e.; #foodsafe
  • Share with partners, both internal and external, plus key stakeholders BEFORE the crisis hits.
  • Organic. For example #bnefloods (Brisbane Floods). Choose hashtags that are easily understood and are straightforward. This is not the time for being witty and clever, although that is inevitable in SocialMediaLand.
  • Test BEFORE crisis hits. Include Twitter language and hashtags as a separate but integral part of your next desktop or planning exercise. Brainstorm with your crisis team and advisers, and test, test and test so that you can iron out as many bugs as possible in advance.
Thanks to crisis bloggers Melissa Agnes and Kim Stephens for this information!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

TV Emergency Information to be More Accessible Due to 21st CVAA: Weather Channel Gets More Time to Comply

On April 8, 2013, the FCC adopted additional rules to make emergency information on television more accessible to people who are blind or have visual impairments. These were issued as a result of the passage of the 21st CVAA and a longstanding demand of the COAT coalition. The new rules require an audio output of any emergency information that appears visually during a non-news program. Typically such emergency information is shown along the bottom of the TV screen during a regularly scheduled program and is typically in text and up to now has not been required to be made audible. The new rules require this text to be provided audibly on a secondary audio stream and goes into effect in two years. This should help many people with visual impairments learn about local emergency weather and other situations and should help save lives, time and reduce aggravation. The two year effectiveness date gives the industry plenty of time to figure out the technology to make this happen. Due to the usual begging and pleading we have come to expect, however, The Weather Channel got an additional six months to comply. That is, The Weather Channel has an additional 6 months to comply beyond the 2 year effectiveness date; and The Weather Channel on DIRECTV has an additional one year to comply.

In the same rulemaking, the FCC set up new requirements for equipment. That is, also adopted were new rules to ensure that certain equipment used to receive, play back, or record television programs is able to make secondary audio streams available such as audio that provides emergency information, as well as the video description that makes programs accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired. These rules also go into effect two years after they are published in the Federal Register.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


ATLANTA – The Federal Emergency Management Agency is looking for youth leaders who are dedicated to public service, who are making a difference in their communities, and who want to expand their impact as national advocates for youth disaster preparedness.

Youth between the ages of 12 and 17 interested in strengthen the nation’s resiliency against disasters may now apply or be nominated to serve on FEMA’s Youth Preparedness Council. Participants will represent the youth perspective on emergency preparedness and share information with their communities.

Those interested may apply directly or be nominated by an adult by submitting a completed application form, a narrative, and a letter of recommendation. Visit www.ready.gov/youth-preparedness to access the application materials and instructions.

Applications and supporting materials must be received by midnight April 19, 2013.

Youth Preparedness Council members will attend the 2013 Youth Preparedness Council Summit and meet with emergency management leadership and national organizations dedicated to youth preparedness to discuss individual and community preparedness. Council members will participate in regular conference calls with FEMA and will complete a youth preparedness project of their choosing.

“Engaging youth is an integral step in preparing the nation for all hazards,” said FEMA’s Region IV Administrator Phil May. “Youth have a unique ability to influence their peers and families to be more resilient and play an important role in disaster preparedness, during and after a crisis.”

Benjamin Cooke of Memphis, Tenn., represented FEMA’s Region IV on the 2012 Youth Preparedness Council. He frequently spoke to diverse groups of youth about the need for emergency preparedness and volunteered at the Memphis Virginia Hospital. He has participated in community initiatives such as “Get Ready Shelby” and “Go Green Memphis.”