It’s Severe Weather Preparedness Week across the country, a time set aside by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Weather Service for everyone to learn about what types of disasters may occur in their communities, and how to be ready to respond to these emergencies.
In 2011, more than 8,000 people in the United States were injured in weather-related emergencies. More than 1,000 lost their lives. The American Red Cross responded to nearly 63,000 fires, almost 2,000 floods, more than 520 tornadoes, nearly 330 explosions and other hazardous material accidents and more than 160 major snow storms The Red Cross reminds everyone that it is important to prepare for possible disasters and other emergencies which can strike suddenly, at any time, anywhere.
THREE STEPS TO BEING PREPARED Being prepared begins long before severe weather threatens. The Red Cross urges everyone to take three important steps to get prepared:
- Get a kit. Build an easy-to-carry emergency preparedness kit that you can use at home or take with you in case you have to evacuate. Include items such as water, non-perishable food, a flashlight and extra batteries, a battery-powered radio, first aid kit, and medications.
- Make a plan. Talk with members of your household about what to do during emergencies. Plan what to do in case everyone is separated, and choose two places to meet—one right outside the home, in case of a sudden emergency such as a fire, and another outside the neighborhood, in case you cannot return home or are asked to evacuate
- Be informed. Know what situations may occur where you live, where you work, where you go to school.
As everyone learns what natural disasters may occur in their community, the Red Cross has specific checklists available for download, containing steps people can take to remain safe in different situations. These checklists give folks the facts they need on what to do before, during and after a disaster or emergency situation.
The Red Cross also conducts several programs to help people be prepared. 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 Red Cross “Do More Than Cross Your Fingers” campaign, featuring Jamie Lee Curtis, shows people how to customize their emergency kits.