It’s National Preparedness Month and the American Red Cross wants households across the country to come up with a game plan to make sure their household is ready for the next emergency or disaster.
By definition, emergencies are an unforeseen combination of circumstances that call for immediate action. They happen quickly, sometimes giving someone only minutes to react.
DISASTER IMPACT DESCRIBED People the Red Cross has assisted over the years submitted these stories about how disaster changed their lives:
In 2004, Christina Davis and her family had to evacuate from their home in Okaloosa, Florida during Hurricane Ivan. Ivan ravaged the area, leaving behind destroyed homes, no access to water or electricity, not even local radio. The Davis family fled to a Red Cross evacuation center in Niceville where the Red Cross was distributing food and water. They were grateful to the Red Cross for the help they received.
In 1978 a blizzard struck South Bend, Indiana, while Patricia Dougall was home with her two small children. A five-foot snowdrift prevented her from leaving the house. Her husband got snowed in at work for a week. When this happened, Patricia did not know what to do so she called the Red Cross. A volunteer walked six blocks from the main road to her house with diapers, formula, and coffee, as well as other necessities to help the family ride out the storm..
Hurricane Georgia went through the Florida Keys in 1998. Loren Mitchell and his wife, Dena, evacuated and came home to a house without power or water. There were no services in their town for two weeks. The Red Cross came to their house the next morning with water and food. A Red Cross aid station was set up a block away and the couple visited it every day. It was the only way they could have survived.
GET PREPARED Planning ahead can help keep everyone safe. During National Preparedness Month, families can take some steps to be ready should disaster strike. Each household should make a plan, build a kit and be informed.
MAKE A PLAN Planning together is important. Everyone in the household should help develop the emergency plan and know what they should do if something occurs. The plan should include ways to contact and find one another. Include two places to meet – one near the home in case of a sudden emergency like a fire, and one outside the neighborhood in case circumstances prevent people from returning home. The plan should also identify an emergency contact person from outside the area in case local telephone lines are overloaded or out of service.
Often people are not at home when a disaster occurs and they may not be able to get back into their neighborhood. Plans should include decisions about where everyone will go if ordered to evacuate and what route they will take to get there. When discussing evacuation, everyone should include several different routes in case roads are closed. If pets are part of the household, they should be considered, including where they could be safe if the family has to evacuate such as pet-friendly motels and animal shelters along the evacuation route.
GET A KIT Another step to get ready is to build an emergency kit. Use an easy-to-carry container so the family can use it at home or take it with them if asked 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.
BE INFORMED Everyone also needs to stay informed about what types of disasters are most likely to occur where they live or where they plan to visit, and how officials will communicate with you during an emergency. 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.
RED CROSS APPS People can be ready for whatever comes their way by downloading the free Red Cross apps for mobile devices which not only help people during emergencies, but offer help creating their emergency plan. The apps give people vital information to use during emergencies, even if they can’t connect to the internet. The apps can be downloaded from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross.
For more information on how to prepare for emergencies, people can visit www.redcross.org.