This article originally appeared in Issue 6Â of our...
Although prepping is often portrayed by the media as a fringe activity for tinfoil-hat-wearing weirdos, there are plenty of sources that will attest to its value. In fact, the U.S. government is extremely concerned with emergency preparedness. Take a quick look at history, and you'll see that there's no shortage of evidence to support the value of preparedness on a national scale, whether it's related to hurricanes, wildfires, disease outbreaks, financial crises, or civil unrest. Our government, most specifically the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), is very clear about just how critical prepping can be prior to a disaster.
Unfortunately, a January 2019 FEMA report titled “Building Cultures of Preparedness” is also clear that past efforts to encourage preparedness have failed catastrophically. This 38-page PDF states:
“Attempts to enhance levels of preparedness among individual households, communities, and various organizations which lie outside the emergency management profession’s immediate sphere of control have shown little to no sign of improvement. Preparedness campaigns such as Ready.gov, America’s PrepareAthon, and National Preparedness Month, all aimed at individual households and communities, have not produced the desired results… Past efforts to apply top-down or one-size-fits-all solutions have too often ended in disappointment.”
The report continues to explain that despite FEMA's efforts to promote preparedness, most of America remains underprepared for disasters.
“Research on the preparedness of individual households tells us that the dismal projections of personal preparedness recorded in survey after survey over the last two decades suggests probably even less preparedness than reported.” In 2014, a FEMA survey found that nearly half of Americans say preparedness is “not on their radar” at all, and only 14% claim that it's an essential part of their lives.
Laura Olson, one of the lead authors of the report reinforced the magnitude of the problem in an interview with Emergency Management: “To say we’ve failed is putting it mildly. We really haven’t been able to achieve any of our goals for two decades at least, which is the amount of time we’ve been tracking this.”
So, FEMA admits their approach to prepping has failed, and wants to change tactics. This is where the new “Cultures of Preparedness” strategy comes in. The report explains this plan:
“Recognizing the vast diversity of communities and individuals across this Nation, we suggest that the goal is not to build one monolithic, national Culture of Preparedness, but rather to encourage local engagement with preparedness projects that meet the needs and enhance the capacities of individual communities. The demands of distinctive and heterogeneous local environments mean that the Culture of Preparedness we desire will have to be built one community at a time. Locally specific solutions will have to be tailored to different cultural contexts by community members that understand their history and surroundings.”
Olson explains that this will involve FEMA trainers educating local leaders, who will then hopefully pass along this knowledge to their community in a way that feels natural and trustworthy rather than forced. FEMA hopes this approach will “reach people who never before imagined the government (at whatever level) cared about their safety and security.”
To learn more about FEMA's new proposal and how it will be implemented, download the “Building Cultures of Preparedness” PDF document.
Thanks to contributor Andy Schrader for the tip about this report.