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People Should Prepare Now For Next Disaster

Being prepared is the best defense against disaster

People across the country have recently had to deal with situations which forced them to leave their homes – wildfires in the west, flooding in Florida, storms that left millions without power across multiple states.

And the 2012 Hurricane Season continues through November 30.

Now is the best time for people to get ready for the next emergency because no one knows whether it will occur in their home, their community or across the United States. “Being prepared is the best defense against disaster,” said Scott C. Somers, PhD, member of the American Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council and the Preparedness Sub-Council. “These emergencies can affect one family or an entire community. By taking responsibility for our own preparedness, we each help contribute to the resilience of our community."

Don’t know where to start? The three keys to being prepared are to build a kit, make a plan and be informed.

An emergency preparedness 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.

All members of a household should work together on an emergency communication 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.

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. Smart phone users can download the free, new American Red Cross First Aid app so they’ll have information on what to do for everyday emergencies right in their hands.

The Red Cross also has programs geared toward businesses. Red Cross Ready Rating is a free, web-based program that helps businesses, organizations and schools become better prepared for emergencies. Members complete a self assessment of their current readiness level and receive immediate, customized feedback with tips to improve. Ready When the Time Comes is a program that trains employees from corporations and mobilizes them as a community-based volunteer force when disaster strikes.

No one can predict where or when the next disaster will strike, but getting ready now can help save lives when the time comes.

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies more than 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or join our blog at