September Is Preparedness Month

The American Red Cross and the PrepareSoCal initiative recognize National Preparedness Month provides as an opportunity to raise awareness about disaster preparedness and remind everyone that disasters can come at any time, any where in any size. 

The Red Cross encourages all of us to take time now to Make A Kit, Have A Plan and Get Informed. When disaster strikes, it may be to late so preparedness starts now. 

This also means to take the time to learn important lifesaving skills − such as CPR and first aid or to give blood to help others during times of disaster. Also, know how to take practical safety steps like shutting off water and gas.

The devastating hurricanes and wildfires of 2017 reminded the nation of the importance of preparing for disasters.  Often, we will be the first ones in our communities to take action after a disaster strikes and before first responders arrive, so it is important to prepare in advance to help yourself and your community.

Follow These Preparedness Tips

Have a Kit

Have an emergency kit ready. You can make your own or buy emergency kits that include water, food, a flashlight, blankets, a radio, first aid items, medications, multipurpose tool, a cell phone charger, a whistle, matches, some cash and personal hygiene supplies. Keep a two-week supply of food and water for every person in the household.

Make a Plan

Does everyone in your home know what to do in case of an emergency? Have a meeting with all household members to talk about what type of emergencies or disasters could occur and what everyone’s role is. Assign responsibilities for each member such as moving furniture, shutting off the electricity, checking in on pets and elderly family members are just a few things to think through. Create a checklist.

Make a recovery plan. If the family is split up, how will you let each other know you are safe, or in need of help? “In case of emergency” (ICE) contact information should be stored on every person’s mobile phone. First responders are trained for look for this contact information so they can get in touch with loved ones or family medical professionals if the person is incapacitated. The Red Cross has a “safe and well” service. Beyond virtual recognition, plan meeting spots—one local and one outside your immediate geography.

Know what important photos and other items you may need to evacuate with or keep protected. Make duplicates of important papers, such as insurance, mortgage documents, wills, passports, and marriage and birth certificates; and store them in a safe, dry place, if not a safe itself. This will come in handy if an event destroys things. Remember, flood and other types of property insurance must be purchased at least 30 days ahead of an event for damage to be covered.

Help prevent further damage or even disaster itself by preparing the environment around your home. Look for overhanging tree branches and dead leaves and limbs that can pose a threat during wildfires and strong wind events. Trim trees and bushes and create a 30- to 100-foot safety zone around your home. Store your outdoor furniture and clear your yard of any debris. Wind storms make dangerous flying objects out of things that aren’t anchored. During wildfire season, flammable debris can act as fuses to your house.

Be Informed

Stay up-to-date on news and weather reports in your area either through television or radio. NOAA Weather Radio continuously broadcasts weather reports from your local National Weather Service station and issues alerts when trouble may be on its way. Download the Red Cross Emergency App (details below) to get warnings of potential weather issues in your area.

Being informed also means talking with your neighbors. If you must evacuate your home, it’s helpful to have a neighbor keep an eye on your property for you. A neighbor’s house can also be a place of shelter if your home is inaccessible. Moreover, knowing where elderly and disabled people live can help emergency officials better do their job when disasters strike.

Think You’re “Red Cross Ready”? Test yourself: can you agree with these statements?

 
     I know what emergencies or disasters are most likely to occur in my community.
 
     I have a family disaster plan and have practiced it.
 
     I have an emergency preparedness kit.
 
     At least one member of my household is trained in first aid and CPR/AED.
 
     I have taken action to help my community prepare. 

DOWNLOAD EMERGENCY APP People should download the free Red Cross Emergency App to receive emergency alerts and information about what to do in case of disasters as well as locations of shelters. Household members can use the app to plan what to do and where to go if a disaster occurs. The app also includes emergency first aid information and a Family Safe feature which allows people to instantly see if loved ones are okay. The free Emergency App is available in app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.