The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced Tuesday it will partner with the U.S. Postal Service to educate Americans about how to prepare their households for potential terrorist threats.
As part of Homeland Security's Ready campaign,Americans will be able to walk into local post offices and pick up a free brochure advising them what to do to prepare for an emergency.
The brochure has been available on the campaign's Web site since its February launch. The Web site has received 1.3 million hits,and nearly 3 million people have downloaded the brochure,said Lara Shane,Homeland Security spokeswoman.
Americans can also order the brochure by calling the campaign's toll-free number.
But distributing the 10 million brochures in 38,000 post office lobbies nationwide will help Homeland Security reach Americans who do not have access to the Internet or who haven't yet heard about the educational campaign,said Bob Anderson,U.S. Postal Service spokesman.
“It's just another way of getting this really important information into the hands of people who can use it,” Shane said.
The brochure advises each family do three things: create an emergency kit,develop a family communication plan and be informed about potential threats.
The emergency kit should be stocked with supplies such as flashlights,batteries,garbage bags,maps of evacuation routes,a first aid kit,a whistle and moist towelettes. Homeland Security also advises families to have extra food,water,clothing,bedding and sanitation supplies on hand.
Families also should discuss what to do in an emergency and create a plan of action outlining ways to communicate and a meeting place.
“What we're really encouraging people to do is have a dialogue with their families … so they know how to find each other,” Shane said.
The last step is to be informed. This means staying on top of current events and discussing what actions are appropriate in the event of a chemical or biological attack.
Shane said the “be informed” part of the education campaign is the most important because it tells people how to use their emergency tools in an appropriate manner. Last year,Americans flooded hardware stores in search of duct tape and plastic sheeting,but were unsure how and when to use them.
“It's not just enough to buy the stuff,” she said. “It's a really great step … but it's also important to know what you're going to do and how to do it.”
The best thing Americans can do in an emergency situation is to listen to their local emergency officials,Shane said.
Although the Ready campaign has already reached millions of Americans,there's still a lot to be done,she said.
“The bottom line is … the way to reduce vulnerability is to prepare America one household at a time,” Shane said.
To read the brochure online,go to: www.ready.gov. To order by phone,call: (800) BE-READY.