Families need to plan on what they should do if a disaster occurs. Whether the disaster is small – a home fire – or large – a hurricane or tornado – families 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. It’s just a few short steps away:
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 it easy to get your emergency preparedness kit ready. You should 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.
• 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. Sign up for a class here.
4. Download our apps. Download the free Red Cross Emergency App to receive emergency alerts and information about what to do in case of a disaster, as well as locations of shelters. The Red Cross First Aid App puts information in your fingertips on how to help. Parents can also download the Red Cross Monster Guard App for a fun way to teach children what to do in case of a flood or a hurricane. Users can find all of the Red Cross apps in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.
Following these simple steps will ensure that you are prepared and ready to overcome challenges a disaster presents. Best wishes for a great new year ahead!