Disasters can strike at any time, and the most common disaster threat people face across the country is a fire in their home. The American Red Cross encourages everyone to be ready for emergencies like home fires by creating a disaster plan for their household during National Preparedness Month.
“Having an emergency plan is an important step so everyone in the household knows what they should do if something happens,” said Rosie Taravella, Western and Central New York Regional CEO. “We believe people should mark National Preparedness Month by creating or updating their plan.”
NYS CITIZEN PREPAREDNESS CORPS In partnership with New York State, the Red Cross is offering free Citizen Preparedness Corps training. The Citizen Preparedness Corps is a program developed by the Governor’s office to help provide the knowledge and tools to prepare for, respond to and recover from natural or man-made disasters. As part of National Preparedness Month, all class participants during September will be entered into a drawing to win one of four free Deluxe Emergency Preparedness Kits.
Citizen Preparedness Corps training is available online at prepare.ny.gov (please select “Referral from the American Red Cross” from the dropdown menu), and in-person training sessions are open to the public at the following dates, times and locations in September:
· 9/8 at 1:30pm-3:30pm: AARP, 200 East Main Street, Endicott, NY 13760
· 9/8 at 7pm-9pm: Red Cross, WNY Chapter, 786 Delaware Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14209
· 9/14 at 12:30pm-2:30pm Salvation Army, 41 North Street, Geneva, NY 14456
· 9/15 at 2pm-4pm: OFA Resident Care, 54 Central Avenue, Brocton, NY 14716
· 9/16 at 7pm-9pm: Red Cross, WNY Chapter, 786 Delaware Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14209
· 9/21 at Noon-2pm: Red Cross, WNY Chapter, 786 Delaware Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14209
· 9/23 at 10am-12pm: Watkins Glen Chamber of Commerce, 214 N. Franklin Street, Watkins Glen, NY 14891
After September, two free Deluxe Emergency Preparedness Kits will be available for all Citizen Preparedness Corps class participants from October 1, 2015 through March 31, 2016. In-person participants also have the opportunity to receive a Blackout Buddy H2O Emergency Light or an American Red Cross Pocket First Aid Kit while supplies last. To schedule a free, in-person Citizen Preparedness Corps training presentation at a school, business or other organization, contact Individual and Community Preparedness Specialist James Segerson at 585-241-4405 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
HOME FIRES As part of its Home Fire Campaign, which aims to reduce deaths and injuries from home fires by as much as 25 percent over the next five years, the Red Cross urges households to develop a fire escape plan and practice it with everyone in their home. When developing the plan, walk through the home and look at all exits and possible escape routes, including windows. List two ways to get out of every room in case fire blocks one of the paths. Pick a place to meet outside, a safe distance away and – no matter the circumstances – stay out of the home until fire officials say it is okay to go back inside. All households should practice their plan at least twice a year.
People should also install smoke alarms on every level of their home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. They should test the alarms monthly, replace the batteries at least once a year and replace them every ten years. As part of the Home Fire Campaign, trained Red Cross volunteers can install free smoke alarms in homes that need them. To schedule an installation, please contact your local chapter.
MAKE A PLAN Everyone in the household should help put the emergency plan together so they know what they should do if something occurs. Because everyone may not be together at home when a disaster happens, the plan should include ways to contact one another and 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.
Any emergency plan should also include decisions about where to go if ordered to evacuate and what route to take to get there. It’s a good idea to include alternate routes in case roads are closed. Don’t forget family pets. 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 developed mobile apps that provide information on what to do before, during and after emergencies. The all-inclusive Emergency App and other preparedness apps have a “Make a Plan” feature on how to develop an emergency plan. Users can develop their plan and share it with household members through the apps. People can also download the Monster Guard App so 7 to 11 year-olds will have a free, fun gaming environment to learn how to prevent emergencies like home fires and stay safe in an emergency or severe weather. The free apps can be found in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.
For more information on how to prepare for all types of emergencies, people can visit redcross.org.