Preparedness Newsletter

This Digest is provided by FEMA's Individual & Community Preparedness Division to highlight community preparedness and resilience resources, an important part of FEMA's mission to help people before, during, and after disasters. We're building a culture of preparedness together.

November 2020 Individual and Community Preparedness Newsletter

Be heard…Email comments or suggestions to us at

Ready Tips

Stay Safe During the Holidays

The holiday season may look different for you and your family this year. Due to COVID-19, many people may celebrate the holidays virtually, have staycations, or have small socially distanced gatherings.

However you decide to spend the holidays, please remember to practice holiday safety and share these helpful tips with your family and loved ones:

  • Only use nonflammable decorations in your home or office.
  • Never leave a burning candle unattended. Consider using battery-operated flameless candles.
  • Practice cooking safety to avoid fires at home. Stay alert in the kitchen and turn off the stove when you leave the kitchen.
  • When you shop online for holiday gifts, be cautious, and shop with trusted retailers to avoid scams.
  • If traveling, please follow the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If traveling by car, please note some places such as gas stations, rest stops, or hotels may be closed due to COVID-19.

For more information on holiday safety, visit’s Holiday and Travel Safety Toolkit. You will find tips, graphics, promotional content, and hashtags on holiday safety and preparedness that you can share with your networks.


CERT & Communities

CERT Aids in Frigid Alaska Flood and Other Events

Flooding is a common problem when rain combines with melting snow in the spring. But floods are unexpected in Alaska in December, when the average temperature high is just 16 degrees Fahrenheit and most things are frozen. Residents in Willow, AK, learned that floods can happen year-round, demonstrating why it is important to be prepared for them at any time.

In December 2019, an ice dam that formed on Willow Creek in southeastern Alaska melted and led to a flood that affected several homes and cut off road access to more than 30 homes. Help came from the many local agencies in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.

“It would be hard to forget this event,” said Brenda McCain, Willow CERT Team Leader. “It is nothing [like] anyone of us can ever recall — sudden flooding filling a home at 11:15 at night at 17 below zero in December!” Read more... 

Participate in the CERT Registration Site Webinar

Attention, CERT members! Last month we told you about the release of the new CERT registration site. This month, we’re excited to show it to you! FEMA’s Individual and Community Preparedness Division will host a webinar on Tuesday, November 17 at 3 pm ET. Be sure to register today to learn more about how to manage CERTs under your purview, obtain real-time program data and metrics, take the annual CERT Survey, and more!

Can’t make it? The webinar will be captioned, transcribed, recorded, and will be available post webinar.

Don’t miss your chance to see the new site in action and learn how it can help you with your CERT activities. Register here and we hope to see you on November 17 at 3 pm ET! If you have a question prior to the event, please email us at

Exploring Ways CBOs Can Reduce Risks

As the COVID-19 pandemic forced employees at Community Health Partnership in Colorado Springs, CO, to work from home, the nonprofit organization scrambled to make plans. What if workers got sick? When would it be safe to work in the office again? And how could this organization — which provides planning, administrative, and data services on homelessness — help the groups it works with stay safe?

Jennifer Mariano, Director of Homeless Programs at Community Health Partnership, credits FEMA’s new Organizations Preparing for Emergency Needs (OPEN) training with prompting her to think about ways to reduce COVID-19’s impact. Read more... 

Humanitarian Disaster Institute releases COVID-19 Six Month Impact Report

The Humanitarian Disaster Institute (HDI) at Wheaton College released a new six month report detailing the impact of its faith-based response to COVID-19. The first faith-based academic disaster research center in the country, HDI’s mission is to help the church prepare and care for a disaster-filled world. Over the past six months, HDI compiled data into a report which details resources and information to manage COVID-19. To read more about the report, please click here. Additionally, HDI released a COVID-19 mental health handbook to help people learn about and provide spiritual and emotional care for others. To learn more, please visit here.

Order Your Favorite Preparedness Materials Online

Exciting news! FEMA has a new and convenient online ordering platform where you can order preparedness publications at no cost. Visit the site to order copies of popular preparedness materials, such as Prepare with Pedro, Are You Ready?, and the Student Tools for Emergency Preparedness (STEP) curriculum. Individual and group orders for classrooms, preparedness workshops, and preparedness fairs can be accommodated.

Please note that it may take two to three weeks for orders to be delivered. You may experience delays as the warehouse staff continues to prioritize disaster-related materials.

Research Provides Tips for Impactful Videos

FEMA conducted one-on-one interviews with 19 disaster survivors to gather feedback and reactions on three videos featuring fire preparedness in various styles. As a result, FEMA has determined that a 90-second narrative that is realistic, relatable, and not too scary, followed by accessible next-step actions was found to be the ideal preparedness video. To pursue FEMA’s mission to prepare people before, during, and after disasters, FEMA creates and shares videos via YouTube, social media, and in training to engage the public. This is one of the ways FEMA strives to meet the whole community “where they are” and get them interested in disaster preparedness. To learn more about FEMA’s research methods and the tips found for impactful videos, please visit here.


Children & Disasters

In a “New Normal”, YPC Members Stay Active in Their Communities

From virtual volunteering to planning emergency preparedness fairs, FEMA’s Youth Preparedness Council (YPC) members aren’t letting COVID-19 stop the work they are doing in their communities. We asked YPC members how the pandemic is impacting their involvement in both preparedness and helping residents.

For example, Nyl Aziaya, handed out preparedness information to Alabama residents as they drove through food distribution centers. He also delivered backpacks filled with school supplies and preparedness information to a shelter for homeless women and children, and to families of veterans who were affected by Hurricane Sally.

Another YPC member, Hunter Tobey, was on the committee deciding how public schools in his city should reopen. He also assisted the local emergency management department with PPE inventory and emergency supplies for elders in the Mashpee Wampanoag Indian tribe.

Early in the year, Banan Garada set a goal of spreading preparedness information to 1,000 people. At first, she worried COVID-19 would put the brakes on her plans, but she has contacted more than 30 organizations to find out how to help safely. She’s been able to distribute 750 Ready 2 Help card games and 150 Prepare with Pedro activity books. Read more...

Midwest Youth Hold Virtual Summit

Midwest teens explored emergency management at a summit this past summer, discussing a range of topics from the importance of preparedness to gaining insight into FEMA’s work. FEMA Region V’s Youth Preparedness Council has 13 students from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin who are interested in promoting preparedness and safety in their communities.

Due to COVID-19, the three-day summit in August was hosted online. The virtual summit allowed for a range of governmental leaders to participate, including FEMA Region V’s Acting Regional Administrator Kevin M. Sligh and partners from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. The summit concluded with a ceremony hosted by Region V National Preparedness Director Michael S. Chesney.

Students on the regional council serve a minimum of one year and complete a community service project. This year marks Region V’s largest council, selected from a large pool of applicants, and includes three members from FEMA’s National Youth Preparedness Council.


Financial Resilience

Get Prepared on Black Friday and Cyber Monday

This year, Black Friday, typically the day after Thanksgiving, may look a little different because of the pandemic. Stores may not be open or will limit number of shoppers to follow safety guidelines. More people may shop online than in person. Cyber Monday, usually the Monday after Thanksgiving, may see even more online purchases than usual this year. What hasn’t changed is the need to make a budget and stick to it! While many people have faced financial challenges this year, the sales and discounts offered on these days present a good opportunity to build or update your emergency supply kit. You may even consider buying these items as gifts for others.

Making a plan and sticking to a budget may help you with unexpected bills down the road. Becoming financially resilient can be a great gift to give yourself. FEMA’s Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (EFFAK) can help you plan and budget during the holiday season and throughout the year. As you shop Black Friday sales, consider buying a small waterproof and fireproof safe box in which to keep financial documents that you’ve filled out from the EFFAK.

If you decide to shop in person, be sure to continue to follow CDC guidelines. If you prefer the online route, be sure you take cybersecurity precautions. Either way, be safe and financially secure!

Financial Resilience Includes Reviewing Your Health Insurance

According to FEMA’s 2020 National Household Survey, 68 percent of people have set aside money for an emergency. This may include money for unexpected medical costs. As we enter the final months of 2020, many employers will offer you the chance to review and make changes to your health insurance. These changes will take effect January 1, 2021. With the COVID-19 pandemic, spending time finding the right coverage for you and your family is especially important. It is also a great step toward financial resilience. Read more...


Important Dates


Disclaimer: The reader recognizes that the federal government provides links and informational data on various disaster preparedness resources and events and does not endorse any non-federal events, entities, organizations, services, or products. Please let us know about other events and services for individual and community preparedness that could be included in future newsletters by contacting - - TWITTER: @Readygov


About FEMA

FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

Follow FEMA online at,,, and

Social media links provided are for reference only. FEMA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies or applications.