September is not just the start of football season, it’s also National Preparedness Month, and the American Red Cross wants to make sure every family has a game plan.
Disasters and emergencies can strike without warning, and it is important to make sure every person knows their family’s playbook. Any good plan should involve all family members working together as a team to make a plan, get a kit, and be informed.
Make a Plan
Everyone should know not only their position, but exactly what to do if they are alone during an emergency. Family members may not be together when a disaster happens, especially during the day when people may be at school or work, so having a strategy ahead of time is essential. All plans should include two predetermined places to meet, one near the home in case of an emergency like a house fire and one outside of the neighborhood in case returning home is not an option.
All family members should know where to go if evacuation is necessary, like a hotel or a relative’s house, and what route they should take to get there. If there is a disaster and family members become separated, they can register on the Red Cross Safe and Well website or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to let others know they are safe. Having an out of area emergency contact is also helpful, and all family members should have their contact information written down or stored in a cell phone.
Making a plan is easy and can be done from the Red Cross website where it can be printed, saved, and updated. Every family member should have a copy, and plans should be made for those who will need assistance, like the elderly, small children, people with disabilities, and even pets. With a little bit of planning, an emergency can be met with a strong defense.
Get a kit
This is also a good time to make an emergency kit, which is critical if a disaster knocks out services like power or water, or if an evacuation is required. A well-stocked kit should include a 3-day supply for evacuations and a 2-week supply for home of water (one gallon per person, per day), non-perishable food, medications and medical items, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, flashlights, and copies of personal documents. A complete list of essential items can be found on the Red Cross website.
Be sure to consider the needs of all family members on the team, and include necessary items like baby and pet supplies. Extra clothing, blankets, and sleeping bags could also prove useful depending on the family game plan. Kits should be kept in easy to carry containers, like backpacks, in case evacuation is required.
It’s also important to know the types of disasters or emergencies that are likely to occur in the area one lives or travels in. Identify how local authorities will share information based on the disaster, and make sure everyone in the family can stay informed. Have teammates coach one another, especially younger players, on different weather alerts such as watches and warnings and what actions they should take during each. House fire drills should also be run, ensuring all family members have practiced what to do to get to safety.
Having at least one teammate who is trained in first aid and CPR can also save lives, and local Red Cross chapters offer training classes. In addition, iPhone and Android users can download Red Cross apps for safety tools and information on different disasters such as tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, wildfires, and first aid emergencies.
Making a plan, getting a kit, and being informed are three essential steps to Being Red Cross Ready and having the whole team equipped to start the season.