CLARK, NJ - September is National Preparedness Month (, which aims to educate and empower Americans to prepare for and respond to all types of emergencies. This year’s theme, “Be Disaster Aware, Take Action to Prepare,” encourages people to be aware of the disasters that may occur in their area and then take action to be better prepared.

Clark Emergency Management Coordinator Jerry Fewkes strives to make the community aware of small things they can do that can have a big impact during an emergency. 

“The big thing we stress is making a plan,” said Fewkes.  “People should have a plan for small events such as fire.  That should be about how to get out of the house and where to meet.  But then they should stretch it to a broader plan.  If they’re all out and about and they can’t return home, they should be able to communicate and have a meeting place.”

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When local communication is compromised, like during a large storm or power outage, families may have a difficult time reaching each other.

“We tell people to have a third-person contact outside of the area.  You may have a better chance during a big emergency of talking to someone far away.  Maybe it’s Aunt Mary or Uncle Jim who lives in another state, but somebody who can be a focal point and know where everyone is,” explained Fewkes.

The Township of Clark is planning to increase its network of trained Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) members by offering CERT training this fall. CERT volunteers assist OEM staff and other township emergency responders during major events by helping residents in need or by performing communication functions in the OEM office.

This 24-hour, 9-week program is designed to train residents to better help themselves, their families, their neighbors and the greater community during a major emergency situation.  (Click to see the CERT Training Information)

Plan Your Own Community Event

America’s PrepareAthon! was launched as a community-based campaign to increase emergency preparedness at the grassroots level by motivating the public to take action through such steps as drills, group discussions and exercises. On April 30, 2014 more than 5 million individuals participated in preparedness activities across the Nation as part of the first America’s PrepareAthon! The second America’s PrepareAthon! Community Day of Action will take place on September 30th and there are a variety of ways for communities to get involved.

Communities can begin planning their PrepareAthon! event by identifying the hazards that could happen in their area and developing their own! activity to address those risks. At an individual or workplace level, this might include actions like making a communication plan or building an emergency supply kit. Communities can take action to prepare by coordinating with local emergency management agencies, first responders, fire, police, or public health departments to develop a community-wide drill. Many communities in earthquake-prone areas around the country will be participating in the Great Shakeout, a worldwide earthquake drill on October 16th.