June 19, 2012



(WASHINGTON, DC) -- The National Foundation for Women Legislators (NFWL) announced its continued support and partnership with the Safe America Foundation at the "Be Safe America" Congressional Briefing on Capitol Hill today.

The Safe America Foundation rolled out its plan for a national 'drill season' to involve more than 2 million people. Under the name "BE Safe America," the Foundation plans to orchestrate a three-pronged effort that emphasizes (1) heightened training, (2) local practice 'drills' and (3) ongoing citizen education.

Robin Read Addresses the "BE Safe America" Congressional Briefing

Robin Read Addresses the "BE Safe America" Congressional Briefing

"Elected women at every level of government and in every state realize how important it is that we work together to create a culture of preparedness," stated Robin Read, NFWL's President and CEO. "Our women leaders from coast-to-coast are committed to being the backbone of making America better 'prepared' for future disasters."

"We're living in a time when Katrinas, Joplins, and Tuscaloosas are annual events," said Safe America Foundation President & CEO, Len Pagano. "We're 100% sure that there will be more significant disasters. The question is - can we minimize their impact by practicing how we'd respond afterwards? It's obvious that - just like in other endeavors that require pre-meditated forethought and role-playing - a disaster drill can help make our response better, sharper and less spontaneous - which means we can lessen the chance that people will be left behind, or not react and remain in the path of destruction."

According to Federal Signal's 2012 Public Safety Survey, conducted by Zogby International, 58% of Americans trust local and regional government to ensure sufficient public safety standards, communication, and planning in their area, but only 29% feel that their community officials are currently investing in or giving government attention to their public safety.

At the Capitol Hill Briefing, Safe America announced plans for a summer outreach effort to encourage communities, businesses, NGOs, Governmental units, and "everyday American families" to conduct their own practice drill. Exercises such as mass employee evacuations or shelter-in-place exercises will be encouraged, along with a simple 60-second "text drill" that the Foundation has developed for families to practice. It includes a "safety shorthand" to help families recognize that they can simply send out a 4-digit "R U OK" text message and get a quick "I M OK" reply - which takes less band width than a 1-minute phone call.

Research conducted by the University of Missouri shows that 800 text messages can be put in this space - allowing a small community to reconnect immediately after a disaster rather than be isolated, not knowing the status of loved ones of co-workers and family members.

The program will include a "BE Safe America Drill Day," being planned for drills on 9/11 (Day of Service) and October 18th, coinciding with the "Great California Shakeout," a West Coast-based earthquake drill that last year engaged over 8 million Americans from California, Washington State, Oregon, and other earthquake-prone areas.

Coalition partners in support of the "BE Safe America" initiative include:

  • African American Coalition for Drug Prevention Policy
  • All Hazards Consortium
  • American Logistics Aid Network
  • Congressional Fire Service Institute (CFSI)
  • Disaster Recovery Institute International (DRI)
  • Federal Signal
  • International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM)
  • Medical Reserve Corps
  • National Association of Government Communicators
  • National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS)
  • National Association of State EMS Officers
  • National Emergency Managers Association (NEMA)
  • National Foundation for Women Legislators (NFWL)
  • National Governors Association
  • National Parent Teacher Association (PTA)
  • NORC at the University of Chicago
  • Northeast Disaster Information Exchange (NEDRIX)
  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce

At NFWL's Annual Conference last August, just before the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and right before an earthquake and a hurricane hit the eastern seaboard of the United States, 32 elected women filmed "be prepared not scared" PSA's and many more took this message home with them back to their communities and conducted media interviews, encouraging their constituents to be more prepared and use text messaging, especially women leaders on the east coast as the earthquake and hurricane affected their communities.

NFWL will be supporting the efforts of women legislators and encouraging them to host town hall meetings, distribute public service announcements, and discuss this preparedness initiative with their constituents through social media. The BE Safe America initiative will also be highlighted at this year's NFWL Annual Conference, which will be November 15-19, 2012 at The Ritz-Carlton in downtown Atlanta, Georgia.

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