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Red Cross New Year’s Resolutions: Resolve to Prepare for Disasters in 2017

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The New Year is almost here, and many will make resolutions about things they want to do in 2017. After a record year for the number of weather-related devastating disasters in the U.S., the American Red Cross is encouraging everyone to add “getting prepared for emergencies” to their list of resolutions for the coming year.

“The New Year is an excellent time to prepare your household for emergencies,” said Linda Jorge Carbone, CEO of the American Red Cross Central Florida Region and the Tampa Bay Chapter. “Be ‘Red Cross Ready’ by following three easy steps: get a disaster kit; make an emergency plan, and be informed about what risks you may face where you live.”

Families need to plan as to what they should do if a disaster occurs. It’s just a few short steps away:

1. Get a kit. If you’ve ever fumbled to find a flashlight during a power outage, you know what it feels like to be unprepared. Use our downloadable checklist  available to make it easy to get your emergency preparedness kit ready. Items to include:

  • 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 household members about what you would do during emergencies. 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.

  • Choose a contact person from out of the area and make sure all household members 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.
  • Don’t forget 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.

  • In Florida, summer brings to mind not just sun but also tropical storms and hurricanes. Arm yourself with information about what to do in case one occurs.
  • Remember that emergencies like fires 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 maybe delayed. Visit redcross.org/takeaclass for online and in-class offerings and to register.

DOWNLOAD RED CROSS APPS Download the Red Cross Emergency App to receive emergency alerts and information about what to do in case of emergencies, as well as locations of open Red Cross shelters. It is a single ‘go-to’ source for 14 different types of emergencies and disasters and allows users to notify loved ones who are in an affected area. If you have a 7-11 year old child in the household, download the Monster Guard App for a fun way for kids to learn how to prevent emergencies, like home fires, and how to stay safe if severe weather or natural disasters occur. The apps are free in their app stores or at redcross.org/apps.

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 cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.