Implementing 2023 National Preparedness Month Activities

As parts of the U.S. experience peak hurricane season, it is a great time to remind residents of the importance of preparing for disasters. September 1st marked the beginning of National Preparedness Month, which is an annual observance to promote the benefits of disaster preparedness.  


Over the past several years, FEMA has crafted targeted National Preparedness Month campaigns to reach communities where they are, including the Latino community and the Black and African American community. This year, the 2023 National Preparedness Month campaign is focused on older adults, specifically older adults “from communities that are disproportionately impacted by all-hazards events.”


The Ready Campaign’s 2023 National Preparedness Month theme is “Take Control in 1,2,3.” FEMA has released an updated website, graphics, and resources for preparing older adults for disasters.


National Preparedness Month marks an opportunity for emergency managers at all levels of government and in the private sector to collectively encourage Americans to take critical actions to prepare for emergencies. As your organization implements activities for National Preparedness Month, a multi-faceted strategy should be used to effectively reach your community. Here are some tips for making an impression on older adults and others in your community:


Incorporate Messaging within Existing Community Events and Communications

Many communities have established avenues to communicate with their constituents, including but not limited to, social media, email newsletters, websites, community events, emergency alerts, and more. Utilizing these already accepted pathways to integrate National Preparedness Month messaging increases visibility and legitimizes the information being provided. This may include integrating emergency preparedness tips, resources, checklists, guides, and stories within social media campaigns, a distinct web page, booths at community events, etc.


Leveraging creative ideas to integrate National Preparedness Month messaging within existing community events and communications will maximize its reach and impact. Consider the following when developing messaging:


  • Crafting content to engage constituents in a ‘fun’ way both digitally and in-person. This could include quizzes, polls, interactive games, scavenger hunts, contests/challenges, and more.
  • Collaborating with local and national influencers and community leaders to transmit messaging through mediums such as videos (Tiktok and YouTube). These influencers could include government officials, local artists, subject matter experts, celebrities, non-profit leaders, and more.
  • Integrating live emergency preparedness activities or demonstrations within local community events through activities such as disaster drills, workshops, first aid training, build-your-own emergency kit, etc.
  • Utilizing local radio and television stations to craft Public Service Announcements.
Make Preparedness Simple

FEMA’s National Household Surveys published in 2022 and 2023 (based on data from 2021 and 2022) show a substantial rise in awareness of disaster preparedness information compared to the previous four years, meaning that more people expressed that they have read, seen, or heard disaster preparedness information. Despite this substantial rise, the latest iteration of the survey also expressed that 42% of respondents intend to prepare sometime in the future for disasters but have not yet started. This puts pressure on emergency managers to drive constituents toward action.


People will be more likely to prepare for emergencies if the steps to preparedness appear straightforward, accessible, simple, and easy to fit into their busy schedules. Consider the following core principles within your messaging:


  • Encouraging people to take simple steps to prepare over time.
  • Promoting free tips to increase preparedness. For example, signing up for local weather alerts, knowing evacuation routes, and writing down emergency contacts are all examples of no cost ways to prepare.
  • Offering convenient ways to opt-in to local alerts and warnings, such as QR codes.
  • Developing preparedness tools and resources, such as fact sheets or simple checklists that apply to specific populations.

Involve the Younger Generation to Foster Change

Young people can be preparedness advocates in their homes, schools, and communities, and governments at all levels continue to provide opportunities for youth to express ideas on youth disaster preparedness through forums like the FEMA Youth Preparedness Council.  Studies have shown the importance of engaging youth in disaster preparedness and planning to provide them with better knowledge of emergencies that could impact their community, arm them with tools to be able to better handle a disaster, and promote stronger preparedness in their home environment. As emergency managers promote National Preparedness Month, consider involving the younger generation to foster change.


Some actions to involve youth in disaster preparedness include:


  • Making preparedness activities fun and interactive, incorporating games and relatable stories. gov/kids has kid-friendly resources available for various age groups.
  • Working with local schools to teach students about local hazards and ways to stay safe.
  • Offering internship opportunities to encourage interest in public safety and emergency management careers.
  • Providing older students with opportunities to teach younger kids about preparedness.

Integrate the Needs of the Whole Community to Meet People Where They Are

Emergency preparedness actions that are practical and can be implemented are very different for each individual, household, and community. A family that struggles to meet daily needs, for example, likely cannot create a ready supply of nonperishable food. Thus, it is critical to tailor National Preparedness Month actions and messaging to meet people where they are.


As your community customizes National Preparedness Month information to various community members and groups, consider the following:


    • Partnering with local non-profits, food banks, and outreach programs to provide scalable preparedness actions that can be taken by individuals impacted by specific circumstances, and to promote available community resources for implementing these actions.
    • Hosting community forums in accessible locations to learn information to better coordinate between emergency management and the needs of the community.
    • Establishing relationships with trusted community partners before disasters occur to allow emergency management agencies to gain insight into specific populations’ needs and to devise strategies to overcome barriers to accessing support. Outreach should be coordinated with other existing teams who have community buy-in to the extent possible to ensure trust.
    • Offering disaster preparedness information transmitted through social media posts, videos, brochures, pamphlets, etc. in multiple languages.

Next Steps

CONSTANT is here for you. If your agency requires assistance in tailoring preparedness campaigns to meet your community’s needs, please contact us.


About the Author 

Kim Hayward Buys is a Senior Associate with CONSTANT, where she leads and supports a suite of emergency management planning, training, exercise, and outreach projects. In former roles, Kim spent over ten years working at FEMA, where she was responsible for developing inclusive strategies to increase community preparedness and resilience. Kim also formerly served as the Chief Deputy Director for Cook County, Illinois’ Department of Emergency Management and Regional Security, which is the second largest county in the United States.



CONSTANT is an award-winning consultancy focused on executing our mission of making the world a safer place. We are an 8(a)-certified and Economically Disadvantaged Woman Owned Business (EDWOSB) with a long history of helping clients across all levels of government and the private sector prepare for catastrophic disasters and emerging threats. Our core areas of expertise include emergency management, counterterrorism, health security, and healthcare preparedness. Across those areas, we provide planning, training, exercise, outreach and staffing services. We are deeply committed to delivering superior customer service, providing a platform for our team members to thrive and prosper, and embodying our signature entrepreneurial spirit and core values. Learn more about CONSTANT here.


Photo Credit: FEMA National Preparedness Month Campaign