This guide has been prepared for direct dissemination to the general public and is based on the most reliable hazard awareness and emergency education information available at the time of publication, including advances in scientific knowledge, more accurate technical language, and the latest physical research on what happens in disasters.

This publication is, however, too brief to cover every factor, situation, or difference in buildings, infrastructure, or other environmental features that might be of interest. To help you explore your interest further, additional sources of information have been included.

The guide has been designed to help the citizens of this nation learn how to protect themselves and their families against all types of hazards. It can be used as a reference source or as a step-by-step manual. The focus of the content is on how to develop, practice, and maintain emergency plans that reflect what must be done before, during, and after a disaster to protect people and their property. Also included is information on how to assemble a disaster supplies kit that contains the food, water, and other supplies in sufficient quantity for individuals and their families to survive following a disaster in the event they must rely on their own resources.

Are You Ready? is just one of many resources the Department of Homeland Security provides the citizens of this nation to help them be prepared against all types of hazards. The Department of Homeland Security’s Ready Campaign seeks to help America be better prepared for even unlikely emergency scenarios. Information on how the public can be ready in case of a national emergency - including a possible terrorism attack involving biological, chemical, or radiological weapons - can be found by logging on to the Department of Homeland Security's web site,, or by calling 1-800-BE-READY for printed information.

CERT[edit | edit source]

Following a disaster, community members may be on their own for a period of time because of the size of the area affected, lost communications, and impassable roads.

The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program supports local response capability by training volunteers to organize themselves and spontaneous volunteers at the disaster site, to provide immediate assistance to victims, and to collect disaster intelligence to support responders’ efforts when they arrive.

In the classroom, participants learn about the hazards they face and ways to prepare for them. CERT members are taught basic organizational skills that they can use to help themselves, their loved ones, and their neighbors until help arrives.

Local government, or one of its representatives, sponsor CERT training in the community. Training consists of 20 hours of instruction on topics that include disaster preparedness, fire safety, disaster medical operations, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster psychology. Upon completion of the training, participants are encouraged to continue their involvement by participating in training activities and volunteering for projects that support their community’s disaster preparedness efforts.

For additional information on CERT, visit or contact your local Citizen Corps Council.

Citizen Corps[edit | edit source]

Citizen Corps provides opportunities for people across the country to participate in a range of measures to make their families, their homes, and their communities safer from the threats of crime, terrorism, public health issues, and disasters of all kinds. Through public education, training opportunities, and volunteer programs, every American can do their part to be better prepared and better protected and to help their communities do the same.

Citizen Corps is managed at the local level by Citizen Corps Councils, which bring together leaders from law enforcement, fire, emergency medical and other emergency management, volunteer organizations, local elected officials, the private sector, and other community stakeholders. These Citizen Corps Councils will organize public education on disaster mitigation and preparedness, citizen training, and volunteer programs to give people of all ages and backgrounds the opportunity to support their community’s emergency services and to safeguard themselves and their property.

By participating in Citizen Corps programs, you can make your home, your neighborhood and your community a safer place to live. To find out more, please visit the Citizen Corps Web site, or visit

Activities under Citizen Corps include existing and new federally sponsored programs administered by the Department of Justice (Neighborhood Watch and Volunteers in Police Service), FEMA (Community Emergency Response Teams - CERT), and Department of Health and Human Services (Medical Reserve Corps), as well as other activities through Citizen Corps affiliate programs that share the common goal of community and family safety.

Certificate of Completion[edit | edit source]

As an option, credit can be provided to those who successfully complete the entire guide and score at least 75 percent on a final examination. To take the final examination, log on to and follow the links for Are You Ready? An In-depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness IS-22. Those who pass the examination can expect to receive a certificate of completion within two weeks from the date the examination is received at FEMA. Questions about this option should be directed to the FEMA Independent Study Program by calling 1-800-238-2258 and asking for the Independent Study Office or writing to:

FEMA Independent Study

Program Emergency Management Institute 16825 South Seton Avenue

Emmitsburg, MD 21727

Facilitator Guide[edit | edit source]

Teaching others about disaster preparedness is a rewarding experience that results from knowing you have helped your fellow citizens be ready in the event a disaster should strike. As a tool to aid those who want to deliver such training, FEMA developed a Facilitator Guide with an accompanying CD-ROM for use with this Are You Ready? guide. The materials are appropriate for use in training groups such as school children, community organizations, scouts, social groups, and many others.

The Facilitator Guide includes guidelines on how to deliver training to various audiences, generic lesson plans for teaching disaster preparedness, and information on how to obtain other resources that can be used to augment the material in the Are You Ready? guide. The CD-ROM contains teaching aids such as electronic visuals that reflect key information and handouts that can be printed and distributed to reinforce what is being presented. To obtain a copy of the Facilitator Guide and CD-ROM, call the FEMA Distribution Center at (800) 480-2520 or request it by writing to:

Federal Emergency Management Agency

P.O. Box 2012

Jessup, MD 20794-2012

Last Modified: Thursday, 04-Jun-2009 11:38:36 EDT

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