Strong storms dumped several inches of rain on southern California and in and around Las Vegas earlier this week. They caused flooding, stranded motorists and destroyed homes. In other regions, dry, weather and high winds are feeding wildfires across the west and Great Plains, destroying hundreds of homes in their path.
Both of these emergencies have led to evacuations – people having to vacate their homes with little notice. September is National Preparedness Month and a great opportunity for the American Red Cross to remind folks to get ready now for the next emergency, whether it occurs in their home, their community or across their region of the United States.
“Being prepared is the best defense against disaster,” said Charley Shimanski, senior vice president for Red Cross Disaster Services. “These emergencies can affect one family or an entire community. We all must do what we can to make sure our families and communities are ready.”
To encourage people to make or update a disaster plan during National Preparedness Month, the Red Cross is sponsoring a prize drawing for a new Apple iPad®. People can use the American Red Cross Hurricane App for iPhone or Android smart phones to help people create a plan, share it with household members and over social networks. In addition, a template and instructions to build a plan are available at redcross.org/npm. So, make a disaster plan and enter to win a new Apple iPad®. (iPad® is a registered trademark of Apple Inc. Apple is not a participant in or sponsor of this promotion.)
A kit should be stored in an easy-to-carry container that someone can use at home or take with them in case they have to evacuate. It should contain a three-day supply of water (one gallon, per person, per day), nonperishable food, a flashlight, battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra batteries, a first aid kit, a 7-day supply of medications, a multi-purpose tool, sanitation and personal hygiene items and copies of important personal documents. The Red Cross also recommends having at least two weeks worth of supplies at home. The Red Cross Store has items available for someone’s kit, ranging from a hand-crank radio to a fully stocked deluxe emergency preparedness kit for adults.
All members of a household should work together on an emergency plan. Each person should know how to reach other members of the household. The plan should also include an out-of-area emergency contact person, and where everyone should meet if they can't go home. The Red Cross Family Guide to First Aid and Emergency Preparedness can help families formulate their plan.
To be informed, people should know about what types of disasters are most likely to occur where they live. It is also important to take a first aid and CPR/AED course—a vital component of disaster preparedness in case emergency help is delayed.
The Red Cross conducts different programs to help people be prepared. The “Do More Than Cross Your Fingers” campaign, featuring Jamie Lee Curtis, shows people how to customize their emergency kits. The “Ready When the Time Comes” program trains employees from corporations and mobilizes them as a community-based volunteer force when disaster strikes. “Be Red Cross Ready” is a web-based interactive training program that teaches people how to be ready for emergencies. The Ready Rating™ helps businesses, schools and other organizations better prepare for emergencies.
No one can predict where or when the next disaster will strike, but getting ready now can help save lives when the time comes. People can contact their local Red Cross Chapter or visit the preparedness section of the Red Cross web site to learn what steps they should take now to be ready when emergencies strike.