The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Ready Campaign, in partnership with The Advertising Council, is introducing a series of social media tools to further engage Americans in emergency preparedness. The initiative is an extension of “Resolve to be Ready in 2009,” a nationwide effort to encourage individuals, families, businesses and communities to prepare for emergencies in 2009.

The tools will engage Americans in taking the three simple steps communicated in the Ready Campaign: Get an emergency supply kit, make a family emergency plan, and be informed about the types of emergencies that can happen in your area and their appropriate responses.

At the initiative’s center is a new webpage, “Be Prepared,” which features an interactive widget providing updates on emergency situations, local emergency contact info, an instructional video, emergency-kit checklists and guidelines on how to better prepare for an emergency. Users can also access a clickable map to find contact info for state and local government agencies.

The widget helps users stay up to date on the latest Ready activities through Twitter news feeds (by following the user name “ReadydotGov”). The widget can be posted to social-networking profiles, blogs, wikis and personal homepages.

The program also includes a tool for visitors to create a comprehensive family emergency plan and share important info with family and friends. Furthermore, visitors are encouraged to share their preparedness story by submitting a video to the Ready Campaign Video Blog. Access the new webpage by clicking on the online banner on the homepage of www.ready.gov.