The New Year is a time when many of us look forward and reflect on the changes we want to accomplish to make our lives better. You can make a difference to others and help keep your family safe by resolving to get your household prepared, to be “Red Cross Ready” when emergencies happen.
Families need to plan how to deal with disasters. They need to know what emergencies are most likely to happen where they live, learn, work and play. You can make a difference in your community by knowing what to do when disaster strikes. You can:
1. Get a kit. If you’ve ever fumbled to find a flashlight during a blackout, you know what it feels like to be unprepared. Use a downloadable checklist to make things even easier when assembling your emergency preparedness kit. Gain some peace of mind by gathering the following supplies now:
- Three-day supply of non-perishable food and water—one gallon per person, per day for drinking and hygiene purposes
- Battery-powered or hand crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- First aid kit, medications and medical items
- Copies of all important documents (proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
- Extra cash
2. Make a plan. Talk with family and household members about what you would do during emergencies that are most likely to happen in your area. Plan what to do in case you are separated, and choose two places to meet—one right outside your home, in case of a sudden emergency such as a fire, and another outside your neighborhood, in case you cannot return home or are asked to evacuate.
Other planning tips:
- Choose an out-of-area emergency contact person. All household members should have this person’s phone number and email address. It may be easier to call long distance or text if local phone lines are overloaded or out of service.
- Tell everyone in the household where emergency information and supplies are kept.
- Practice evacuating your home twice a year. Drive your planned evacuation route and plot alternate routes on a map in case main roads are impassable.
- Plan ahead for your pets. If you must evacuate, make arrangements for your animals. Keep a phone list of “pet friendly” motels/hotels and animal shelters that are along your evacuation routes.
3. Be informed. Know the risks where you live, work, learn and play.
- If you live or travel often to areas near a fault line, learn how to prepare and what to do during an earthquake. If summer brings to mind not just beaches and picnics but also tropical storms and hurricanes, arm yourself with information about what to do in case one occurs. Remember that emergencies like fires and blackouts can happen anywhere, so everyone should be prepared for them.
- Find out how you would receive information from local officials in the event of an emergency.
- Learn first aid and CPR/AED so that you have the skills to respond in an emergency before help arrives, especially during a disaster when emergency responders may not be as available. Contact your local chapter to get trained.
Take time during this venture into 2011 to get prepared. Visit RedCross.org for more information on how to prepare for all types of emergencies.