30 Days, 30 Ways: Disaster preparedness challenge returns

CRESA's annual game played via social media teaches planning for emergencies

By Emily Gillespie, Columbian breaking news reporter

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As Clark County families get ready to settle back into the routine of the school year, local officials are hoping residents are also preparing for something less expected: a disaster.

September is National Preparedness Month, and on Monday the Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency kicked off its annual disaster preparedness game, called the "30 Days, 30 Ways Preparedness Challenge."

The game, played over social media, assigns one readiness task for each day for the month of September.

After participants have completed the task, they are asked to post their results to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, the game's blog or send in the result by email. More details can be found at the game's website, www.30days30ways.com.

Players will be given a task at 7 a.m. each day of the month and have until midnight Sept. 30 to complete the tasks, which are designed to be short and not complicated. Participants can do as many tasks for as many days as they choose throughout the month.

Those who complete the most tasks will be announced as winners at the end of the month, with special awards for creative posts.

The goal of the game, after all, is to reach people who may not otherwise be thinking about emergency preparedness through the participants' posts on social media.

So the more viral the post, the better, said Emergency Management Coordinator Eric Frank.

"It's hard to grab people's attention," he added.

CRESA created the 30-day contest in September 2010 and over the past years has had players in 40 states and seven countries complete more than 10,000 readiness tasks.

Frank said that this year, the game will have more of a community preparedness focus.

He said he wants people "thinking outside that normal little box."

Though there are tasks aimed at individual preparedness, Frank said that he hopes to get people to think beyond just themselves.

"We've all heard the phrase 'it takes a village.' The same concept can be used to emergency preparedness," Frank said. "We know it adds up in building emergency kits, retrofitting homes, solar charging devices, generators … the list goes on. By knowing your neighbors are prepared, or have plenty of item A, perhaps you can work on storing item B and so on."

He said that when people work together after an emergency, things return to normal more quickly.