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September 18, 2007   Email to Friend 

Alabama, are you ready?
Gina Smith

Are you and your family prepared for a disaster?

Do you have a three-day supply of food, water and other essentials on hand?

Do you have a plan to communicate with loved ones if you are separated?

If you answered "no" to any of these questions, you're not alone. Recent surveys show a majority of Americans have not taken responsible steps to prepare for natural disasters or terrorist attacks. But the good news is getting ready is easier than most people think.

September is National Preparedness Month. As part of this national effort to prepare for emergencies, the Alabama Department of Homeland Security (AL DHS) and the Governor's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives (GFBCI) are encouraging people to put together what is commonly referred to as a 3-Day Ready Kit.

Kits should include non-perishable foods, one gallon of water per person per day, personal hygiene items, medication, copies of important documents, a battery-powered radio and other items a family might need during emergencies. And don't forget to plan for pets. A full list of suggested 3-Day Ready Kit items can be found online at www.ReadyAlabama.org.

In addition to encouraging families to prepare for disasters, AL DHS and GFBCI offer a unique opportunity to Alabama students entering the sixth grade. Be Ready Camp, held at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, is the only camp of its kind in the country.

Be Ready Camp is an educational experience focused on building preparedness skills for natural and man-made disasters. At Be Ready Camp, kids step into the shoes of public safety professionals, such as police officers, fire fighters, doctors, soldiers and others through a mock disaster situation. The mock disaster allows students to use the skills they've learned during their time at camp, and allows them to work side by side with actual first responders.

"Be Ready Camp is an investment in the future leadership of our state," said Alabama Homeland Security Director Jim Walker. "The young people learning about emergency response today will make up the next generation of fire fighters, police officers and other first responders,"

The first Be Ready Camp was held last year, and students from Madison County participated in the pilot program. Thanks to the overwhelming success and the generosity of corporate sponsors, Be Ready Camp is now open to students from all 67 counties and the Poarch Creek Indian Tribe.

Be Ready Camp will be held in September, with a group of students scheduled to graduate, Sept. 22.

Be Ready Camp is part of a larger public outreach campaign called Be Ready Alabama.

The goal of Be Ready Alabama is simple: make citizens aware of the importance of preparedness and compel them to act in the interest of their family's and their own personal safety.

The Be Ready Alabama campaign does that in several ways, including an annual Be Ready Day. Be Ready Day features a wide variety of first responders, volunteers and the equipment they use in all aspects of disaster prevention and response. Hundreds of area students will be in attendance, and all Alabamians are invited to come meet the folks who help keep them safe. This year's event will be Friday, Sept. 28, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff's hangar at the Tuscaloosa Regional Airport. Gov. Bob Riley will be on hand to participate and make remarks.

September may be National Preparedness Month, but the Be Ready Alabama campaign continues year-round. That's because the message of preparedness is far too important to demand attention only one month out of the year, Walker said. "Think about yourself. Think about your family. Be informed. Be involved. Be ready, Alabama."

Learn more about preparedness at www.ReadyAlabama.org. For volunteer opportunities, visit ServeAlabama.gov. The Alabama Homeland Security Department is online at www.dhs.alabama.gov. Gina Smith is Public Information Manager for the Alabama Department of Homeland Security.


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