As the leaves begin to change and the air turns crisper, we’re not just stepping into a new season – we’re also stepping into National Preparedness Month this September. But hold on, before you roll your eyes and think, “Oh, another cheesy reminder to stock up on canned beans,” let’s hit the pause button.
Awareness months like this are absolutely essential because disasters don’t wait for convenient timing, and they certainly don’t discriminate based on age, race, location, or social status. They come, often when we least expect them, testing the mettle of our preparedness. This is exactly why National Preparedness Month is not just an awareness campaign, but a life-altering opportunity for awareness.
FEMA’s theme for this year’s awareness campaign will focus on preparing older adults for disaster, specifically older adults from communities that are disproportionally impacted by the all-hazard events, that continue to threaten the globe. According to the American Red Cross, there are several factors that make older adults more vulnerable after disasters, including, but not limited to:
- a greater likelihood of suffering from chronic conditions and the need for associated medications
- a greater reliance on assistive devices such as walkers or glasses, as well as support from caregivers and others
- an increased likelihood of social isolation
This year, we’re diving deep into a topic that could quite literally be a lifeline for someone you love: preparing our older generation for the curveballs nature can throw. So, grab a cuppa of tea, settle in, and let’s explore why National Preparedness Month 2023 is about to get real, life-saving REAL.
Why preparedness matters: a matter of life and safety
Imagine your grandparents, your parents, your neighbour down the road who loves a chat – those who have witnessed decades of life’s ups and downs. Their wisdom is immeasurable, and their stories are woven into the fabric of our families and communities. Yet, when disaster strikes, age can become a vulnerability. Older adults might face challenges in mobility, medication access, and even cognitive awareness during high-stress situations. That’s why preparing them for natural disasters isn’t just a recommendation; it’s a critical responsibility that could mean the difference between life and unthinkable circumstances.
Let’s face it – disasters don’t play favourites. They don’t care about age, gender, or the wrinkles in your smile. But we do. And this National Preparedness Month, we’re determined to ensure that our older generation remains as vibrant, cherished, and safe as ever, no matter what Mother Nature has in store.
The power of the theme: Taking Control in 1, 2, 3
Now, let’s talk about this year’s catchy theme – “Take control in 1, 2, 3.” It’s more than a play on words; it’s a rallying cry for practicality and empowerment. When disaster looms, panic can be paralysing. But when we break it down into three simple steps, preparedness becomes more approachable than ever.
Step 1: Stay Informed – Knowledge is your shield. Keep an ear to the ground for local alerts, weather updates, and community resources. The more you know, the better you can plan.
Step 2: Create Your Plan – One size doesn’t fit all. Design an emergency plan that suits your unique needs or the needs of your elderly loved ones. What’s the evacuation route? Where are the medical records? Having a plan is like having a flashlight in the dark – it leads the way.
Step 3: Build Your Kit – Think of it as your survival toolkit. Medications, non-perishable snacks, flashlights, and a dose of positivity – pack what’s necessary to weather the storm with resilience and grace.
Step 4: Ok, so we’re straying from the 1, 2, 3 theme just a bit, but download the American Red Cross Emergency App to ensure you and your loved ones are able to prepare for, respond to, and recover from natural disasters!
Why technology has become essential for preparedness
Every year there are about 354 natural disasters globally, and of those disasters, about 210 million people are affected. Which is just a staggering number. Made even more so by the fact that an average of 68,000 people lose their lives in disasters every single year.
That number is heartbreaking in itself, but the good news is, that number is reducing! Throughout history, statistics show that number has been steadily decreasing in the last century. It’s no coincidence that this is happening at the same time that technology is advancing. We can’t stop these high-impact, low-frequency events from happening, but we can minimise the number of people who lose their lives because of them.
When disaster strikes, technology can save lives.
Being aware and prepared for what’s to come is absolutely vital, and tech allows us to do just that!
A great example of this is the platform that we partnered with Global Commons Alliance to build. Earth HQ was showcased at COP26, and is a user-friendly and interactive portal that allows the population to understand different climate emergencies through near real-time data. Since its launch in October of 2021, 100,000+ people have used the platform to stay informed on pending climate emergencies through data visualisation enabling them to understand the looming crisis.
As climate change has rapidly become one of the world’s biggest problems, global organisations, passionate individuals and sustainable nations have all come together to combat the negative impact we’re having on our environment. This is why the concept of disaster preparedness is so vital now more than ever. But what exactly is disaster preparedness and why is it so important? The IFRC describes it best by saying:
Disaster management at 3 Sided Cube
Unfortunately, climate change is increasing the frequency of these catastrophic events. The ability to access life-saving alerts is a human right and one we take *very* seriously at 3 Sided Cube. We bake that into the very heart of every project to ensure our digital solutions are robust, reliable, and accessible enough for users to depend on with their lives.
Our dedicated and passionate team of Cubies work tirelessly to make sure our platform and suite of apps are constantly ready to respond should disaster strike. Throughout the years we have seen time and time again just how essential it is that technical solutions are easily accessible and available for EVERYONE when the worst-case scenario happens.
The Emergency App that we partnered with the American Red Cross to build is just the technical solution to not only give users peace of mind but also save lives.
Mother nature can be devastating, so our disaster management app needed to be robust enough that people could rely on it. The American Red Cross approached us with the idea of a platform that allowed users to prepare for, respond to, and recover from natural disasters.
So that’s just what we built for them!
Emergency is a native app that allows you to monitor more than 46 different climate-affected emergency alerts in your town, and other cities that matter to you, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, and tornados.
This platform for the American Red Cross allows them to communicate with the population in an entirely new way, providing a real-time solution during numerous disasters and enabling users to contact loved ones to let them know they’re safe, find the nearest shelter, and track the storm.
The app offers invaluable information on how best to prepare your home and make plans with your family before a disaster strikes and gives advice to aid recovery. The app also allows for the real-time addition of much-needed content (such as food/shelter locators and open gas stations) which is critical in the wake of a disaster. The app revolutionised how the American Red Cross communicates with people, before, during, and after a disaster. Within the disaster management community, it’s proving to be the blueprint for how disaster management agencies can use mobile to help people.
The future of disaster preparedness: Innovate and unite
So, where does the future of disaster preparedness lead? Picture a world where technology meets compassion. Mobile apps that provide instant alerts, virtual reality simulations for disaster drills, and communities that band together like never before. The future isn’t just about surviving; it’s about thriving in the face of adversity.
And technology can help facilitate that in an unprecedented way!
Here are just a few examples that we LOVE to see:
- Smart disaster response Drones: Imagine drones equipped with advanced sensors and AI capabilities swooping into disaster-stricken areas. These drones can swiftly assess damage, identify survivors, and relay real-time data to emergency responders. They become eyes in the sky, helping responders make informed decisions and save lives more effectively.
- Predictive analytics for early warnings: Advanced data analytics combined with machine learning can create models that predict disaster occurrences more accurately. With such systems in place, authorities can issue early warnings, giving communities precious hours to evacuate, secure their homes, and gather essentials. This technology turns the tables, allowing us to stay ahead of disasters rather than merely reacting to them.
- Community resilience platforms: Picture a digital hub where neighbors connect, plan, and support each other during emergencies. These platforms go beyond social media; they’re dedicated spaces for disaster-specific discussions, resource sharing, and mutual aid coordination. In the face of adversity, communities are no longer isolated – they’re united by a common purpose, proving that even in the digital age, genuine human connections thrive.
As National Preparedness Month 2023 unfolds, let’s embrace the “Take control in 1, 2, 3” approach, so that we’re ensuring that age is nothing but a number – not a barrier. The stories of our elders deserve to continue, and with our dedication, they will. So, let’s toast to a month of empowerment, action, and a safer future for us all. After all, when we prepare together, we prove that the human spirit can weather any storm – and come out even stronger on the other side.
To continue the conversation on a topic near and dear to us, check out our recent podcast episode all about disaster preparedness….