SACRAMENTO, Calif., September 1, 2013 — Disasters can strike quickly and often without warning. During National Preparedness Month, the American Red Cross Capital Region encourages all households to get ready for the next emergency or disaster.
“Having a game plan in place is essential for all households so everyone knows what they should do when an emergency occurs,” said Kathleen Weis, CEO for the Red Cross Capital Region. “National Preparedness Month is a perfect time for people to take action, learn and understand their disaster risks, and create or update their emergency plan.”
The last several weeks have been a strong reminder of some of the risks within the Capital Region as several large wildfires have continued to capture the nation’s attention. The Rim Fire burning in Tuolumne County near Yosemite has raged for two weeks, becoming one of the largest wildfires in California history. Since August 17, Red Cross volunteers from the Capital Region have operated an evacuation shelter at the Mother Lode Fairgrounds in Sonora where residents have sought refuge from the smoke and flames – some having had only minutes to leave their homes.
When disaster strikes, will you be ready? There are several things families can do to ensure they are ready if and when the time comes:
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 developing an emergency plan. “People can use the ‘Make a Plan’ feature in the apps to create their plan and then share it with their loved ones,” Weis said. “The preloaded content in the apps gives people access to vital information to use during emergencies, even if they can’t connect to the internet.” 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.
For more information on how to prepare for emergencies, people can visit redcross.org or contact the Capital Region offices at (916) 993-7070.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.