During my State of the State address in January, I emphasized the importance of being prepared before a disaster occurs. Last summer, West Virginia welcomed more than 40,000 Boy Scouts of America, troop leaders and volunteers to Fayette County’s Bechtel Summit as part of the national Boy Scout Jamboree. Recognizing the Jamboree could overburden local health and public safety resources, I declared a State of Emergency. It was really a State of Preparedness.
This March, I signed House Bill 4147 into law that will give the Governor the authority to declare a State of Preparedness that can be applied to future jamborees, winter storms and any other predictable natural disaster. Like the Boy Scouts, West Virginia should always be prepared.
That’s I why encourage you to take the time to recognize the national PrepareAthon, Wednesday, April 30, and talk to your family about what to do and where to go in the event of a natural disaster like floods, wildfires, hurricanes and tornadoes. By understanding which disasters could strike your community, and what you can do to keep yourself, you can take the necessary steps to keep you and your family safe.
In West Virginia, the Center for Threat Preparedness at the Department of Health and Human Resources is participating by hosting an educational event to promote wildfire safety and help prevent fire-related injuries. As warmer weather encourages families to take advantage of West Virginia’s camping opportunities, the center will help educate DHHR staff on how to prevent wildfires, brush fires and encourage fire safety on April 30 in Charleston.
Also helping to spread the word is the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, at the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety. Last week, the Monongalia County Health Department held a daylong session on fire prevention, first aid and emergency preparedness in Morgantown. In Hinton, the local Community Emergency Response Team will host a class on wildfire prevention on May 5.
Join more than 5 million people from across the country and participate in this year’s national, community-based PrepareAthon campaign by finding, or organizing, a preparedness activity near you. Consider helping to organize a drill, discussion or exercise at your household, workplace or school. West Virginians can learn more about America’s PrepareAthon and sign up to participate by visiting www.ready.gov/prepare. Being prepared for disasters is a shared responsibility. We can help our communities and our families to be ready, respond and recover by working together before a natural disaster strikes.