It’s National Preparedness Month and the American Red Cross is encouraging everyone to take the first steps to being better prepared by creating and exercising an emergency plan for their household.
Already have your plan in place? Great! Please use this reminder to revisit your plan, make any necessary updates and practice the plan with all involved. Don’t forget to check the expiration dates on items in your emergency preparedness kit and replace any items used since your last review.
“Creating and exercising your plan are important steps in making sure all household members know what to do in an emergency,” said Mathieu Nelessen, regional CEO, American Red Cross North Jersey Region. “The Red Cross has free tools available to help you develop your plan and learn how you and your family can be better prepared for disasters.”
Red Cross North Jersey Region volunteers are on hand at community events this month helping families develop emergency plans, demonstrating the Red Cross suite of mobile apps; and providing information and resources to help families be better prepared for emergencies. Stop by and visit us at an event or use any of the following to help get your family ready for emergencies.
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, including a “Make a Plan” feature on how to develop an emergency plan. Another important feature in the disaster apps allows users to let family and friends quickly know they are safe with a customizable “I’m Safe” alert for Facebook, Twitter, email and text. The free apps are available in English and Spanish and can be downloaded from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross.
HOME FIRES The most common threat people face across the country is a fire in their home. National Preparedness Month is a good time to develop a fire escape plan and practice it with everyone in the household. 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.
For more information on how to prepare for all types of emergencies, visit redcross.org/prepare.