Men and women in military attire, families with children in soccer uniforms or in strollers, and military retirees were among more than 1,100 who received emergency preparedness kits from the American Red Cross on a hot and muggy Saturday at an Army post just outside of Washington, D.C.
Those who came to the preparedness event at Fort Belvoir received information on how to improve their family’s readiness for emergencies from the Red Cross, the federal government’s Ready.gov program and Fort Belvoir’s family readiness program. They then packed their own emergency kits with items provided free by the Red Cross.
Jerry DeFrancisco, president of humanitarian services at the Red Cross, noted that the Red Cross long-standing service to military members and their families started with Clara Barton’s help of Civil War troops, and that the Red Cross has also placed a high priority on helping people and communities be better prepared for emergencies.
“Events like this help serve the military and help fulfill our preparedness mission,” DeFrancisco said.
The family emergency preparedness event kicked off with welcoming remarks by Col. Jerry L. Blixt, who is the Garrison Commander at Fort Belvoir.
“We know it is important to be ready in any emergency, especially in this area,” said Blixt. The Washington, D.C., area was hit by two record-breaking snowstorms in the past year and has been impacted by tropical storms and hurricanes in recent years.
Darryl Madden, director of the Federal Emergency Management Administration’s Ready.gov program, spoke of a “preparedness partnership” with the Red Cross, the Ready Army program, FEMA and military families.
“We are very proud to be part of what is going on here today,” Madden said.
Those participating in the preparedness event received Red Cross bags filled with important items such as a mini lantern, glow sticks, an Eton emergency radio, Red Cross vintage first aid kit, emergency water storage system, multipurpose tool and a family guide to first aid.
In addition, senior preparedness leaders from the Red Cross had a table with personal items—pet food, toothbrushes, snacks and children’s toys—to remind people of the kinds of things they might want to take if they had to evacuate due to an emergency or disaster. They reminded participants of the need to bring prescriptions as well as extra cash to use in the event that ATMs are not working due to power failures.
In late morning, when the Red Cross group learned that about 30 Fort Belvoir personnel would be unable to attend because they were in a Civil Air Patrol training, they packed up 30 of the preparedness bags and delivered them to the training session.
The Fort Belvoir preparedness session coincided with the beginning of the 2010 hurricane season, which began June 1. The Red Cross plans five similar preparedness events later this year, three at U.S. military bases in the continental U.S. and two overseas at U.S. installations in Korea and Germany.