NOAA and FEMA are partnering on a public education campaign kicking off during the first National Severe Weather Preparedness Week, April 22-28.
This is more than your routine public safety/awareness effort. Aimed at improving the way people respond to severe weather warnings, campaign planners are embracing social science principles to encourage people to take appropriate actions, and then inspire others to do the same, in real time.
Based on NOAA survey results after the 2011 tornado outbreaks in Alabama and Joplin, Missouri, we know that some people will take shelter immediately after hearing a warning on NOAA Weather Radio or on television. But, most people typically wait for secondary confirmation before taking shelter. Social science research confirms this. People are more likely to take preparedness measures in advance and action during an event when they observe others doing so.
With a Tweet or a Facebook update sent from a cell phone, proactive “thought leaders” can model the appropriate action for others and encourage them to Be a Force of Nature.
Forces of nature are out there already. We’ve seen countless examples of forces of nature in recent months: the Grandmother in Texas who protected three small children in bathtub as a tornado ravaged the home; or Stephanie Decker in Indiana, whose husband sent a life-saving text to her March 2, warning her of an impending tornado, giving her the confirmation she needed to immediately take her children to the basement where she shielded them with her body, severely injuring both of her legs. The NOAA/FEMA campaign seeks to multiply their impact by starting a national movement for preparedness. That’s where you come in.
Beyond this one week in April, NOAA’s effort to create a Weather Ready Nation will continue. We’re envisioning similar co-branded efforts with other members of the Federal, state, and local risk management community, academia and America’s weather and climate industry. In the future, we can encourage the public to be a force of nature when it comes to hurricanes, floods, lightning and any other number of extreme weather phenomena.
Check out www.ready.gov/severeweather for the resources you need to become a force of nature yourself.
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