The American Red Cross is joining with The Weather Channel® to educate families and communities across the country about how to be prepared for severe weather.
‘Connect with Weather’ encourages families to get ready in case bad weather heads their way. The Red Cross is joining The Weather Channel at events across the United States where families can learn how to create their emergency plan and put it into play if needed. Other participants include Save the Children, the American Humane Association and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
A ‘Connect with Weather’ event was recently held in Oklahoma with the Tulsa Area Red Cross Chapter participating, along with area police and fire department representatives. Weather Channel Meteorologist Mike Bettes was in attendance, talking to families about safety and preparedness with a focus on tornadoes. Bettes was, himself, injured when a deadly EF-5 tornado lifted his vehicle into the air earlier this year near Oklahoma City. Events were held at two schools in the area, where students learned about home emergency kits and items that should be included.
“Hands down, this was a great experience and a great opportunity,” said Brian Jensen Sr., director of emergency services, Eastern Oklahoma Region of the Red Cross. “Mike Bettes and the entire Weather Channel team were great, we reached a lot of kids and their parents with preparedness and resilience information and hopefully we inspired those families to make sure they’re ready in case of an emergency.”
Red Cross preparedness experts will also be on hand for ‘Connect with Weather’ events in Louisville, Kentucky; Austin, Texas; Denver, Colorado; New York, New York and Columbia, South Carolina.
People can also visit the Connect with Weather web site to find information that will help them develop their own severe weather plans. The site includes a family emergency plan creator, tips and resources on preparing for weather emergencies and natural disasters, activities, games and videos for kids. Participants have the chance to win $5,000 by submitting a video to The Weather Channel about how their household plans for bad weather and why planning is important.
“The safety of our viewers is our most important responsibility and informs every decision we make regarding our coverage,” said David Kenny, chairman and CEO of The Weather Company. “Connect with Weather gives distribution providers the tools needed to integrate critical information into the services they offer, allowing their customers to be prepared for any emergency.”
MAKE A PLAN It is important that everyone in the household helps put the emergency plan together and knows what they should do if something occurs. Household members may not be together when a disaster happens – during the day many people are at work and school. The plan should include ways to contact one another and two predetermined 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. People should also identify an emergency contact person from outside the area in case local telephone lines are overloaded or out of service.
Any emergency plan should also include decisions about where family members will go if ordered to evacuate and what route they will take to get there. It’s a good idea to include alternate routes in case roads are closed. If pets are part of the household, make sure to include plans for them such as pet-friendly hotels and animal shelters along the evacuation route.
RED CROSS APPS The Red Cross has free mobile apps that provide information on what to do before, during and after emergencies, including a ‘Make a Plan’ feature that helps users create their plan and then share it with their loved ones. The apps can be downloaded from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross.
OTHER WAYS TO GET READY Another step to get one’s household ready is to build an emergency kit in a container that is easy to carry 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 emergency supplies at home.
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. 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.