September 2015  

September is National Preparedness Month

September is National Preparedness Month (NPM), and the Harris County Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Management encourages residents to take time to make sure that their families, neighborhoods and communities are prepared for disasters and emergencies of all types.

The NPM initiative, now in its 12th year, is a month-long effort hosted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Ready Campaign and Citizen Corps. This year's theme is Don't Wait. Communicate. Make Your Emergency Plan Today.

"Severe weather and other emergencies can strike with little or no warning and can have disastrous impacts," said Harris County Judge Ed Emmett. "Residents, especially those new to our area, need to be aware of local hazards and take steps to prepare."

While National Preparedness Month is held in September each year, FEMA's Ready Campaign promotes individual preparedness at home, in the workplace and in communities throughout the year. Through the Ready Campaign, the Harris County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, the Harris County First Responder Departments and the Harris County Citizen Corps seek to transform awareness into action by encouraging all residents to get an emergency supply kit, make a family emergency plan, be informed about different threats and to get involved in preparing their communities. Harris County leaders believe an involved community is a well prepared community. Residents should learn what protective measures to take before, during and after an emergency.

"Being prepared is a shared responsibility, and everyone should do their part," added Emmett. "Emergencies will happen, so it's important to be proactive and get prepared before they strike."

Look into taking first aid and emergency response training, participating in community exercises and volunteering to support local first responders. Locally, Harris County Citizen Corps is committed to preparing communities and creating opportunities for people to volunteer.

Harris County Citizen Corps has more than 20,000 trained Community Emergency Response Team volunteers, more than 21,000 Volunteers in Police Services members, more than 4,000 Medical Reserve Corps volunteers, almost 6,000 USA on Watch volunteers and 24 Fire Corps agencies. To join Harris County Citizen Corps or for more information about its programs, go to or call (281) JOIN NOW (564-6669). Harris County Citizen Corps is also on Facebook.

More details about NPM and the Ready Campaign are available at or by calling 1-800-BE-READY, 1-888-SE-LISTO or TTY 1-800-462-7585.

Harris County Public Library Introduces a New Kind of Library Card

Harris County Commissioners Court recently designated the month of September as Library Card Sign Up and Literacy Month. In conjunction with this designation, Harris County Public Library (HCPL) unveiled its new iKnow Digital Access Card. Harris County residents, for the first time, are able to apply for and receive a library card online and gain immediate access to a wide range of digital content including streaming movies, eBooks, online research tools and even complete digital editions of popular magazines. The iKnow Card does not replace the HCPL's full service Knowledge Card. It is meant for new patrons who want immediate access to online services.

For children who do not always have safe transportation to and from the library, the iKnow Card is a powerful new educational tool, and represents HCPL's commitment to the White House ConnectED Library Challenge that aims to improve education for all children by ensuring that every child has a library card.

Some of the services available to iKnow cardholders are:
  More than 300,000 streaming movies, music albums and eBooks, including a large selection of digital DC Comics on Hoopla.
  Nearly 60,000 eBooks, eAudiobooks and streaming media on OverDrive.
  ePicturebooks for kids on Tumblebooks and eAudiobooks for all ages on OneClick Digital.
  Current issues of popular magazines for computer or tablet with Flipster.
  Mango online Language Learning.
  The powerful business and investment research tools Morningstar, Valueline and Reference USA.
  HeritageQuest Online genealogy research database.
  Chilton's Automotive Repair Manuals.
  Safari Books Online, the go-to source for programmers and IT professionals.
  Novelist Plus and Novelist K-8 Plus electronic readers' advisory for adults, teens and children.

The iKnow Card offers access to a world of digital content, but for the full range of materials and services available at Harris County Public Library, the iKnow Card can be upgraded to a full service HCPL Knowledge Card at any of the 26 branch libraries.

For more information, call 713-274-6600 or log on to to see all of HCPL's digital services.