September is National Preparedness Month: Get ready now

Emergencies more frequent, larger due to climate change

By Tim Poe, American Red Cross volunteer

During my time as a Disaster Action Team (DAT) member, I saw many levels of preparedness and their impact once a disaster happened, whether a fire, flood, tornado or other event. Families and communities who had prepared were much better able to respond and begin recovering than those who had not. The American Red Cross assists all in need but preparation makes a tremendous difference, especially as climate change causes more severe weather. The Red Cross Northern Ohio Region urges everyone to get ready.

While home fires remain the most frequent disaster in Northern Ohio, climate change is having an impact. Sustainable Cleveland’s Action Plan states, “… annual temperatures in the Midwest, including Northeast Ohio, have increased over the last several decades. Heat waves are becoming more frequent. Snow and ice are arriving later in the fall and are starting to melt earlier in the spring. Heavy downpours now occur twice as frequently as they did a century ago.”

For an additional perspective, I reached out to John Gareis, Regional Manager, Disaster Preparedness, Red Cross Northern Ohio Region. John said, “Disasters can happen anywhere, anytime. We urge people to prepare now and be ready if an emergency occurs in their home or in our local community.

“No one plans to be in a disaster,” John continued. “Unfortunately, so often we help families who have done nothing to prepare, and they rely on the Red Cross to help them get on their feet and begin piecing together their lives. Understanding the basics of being prepared, having a communication plan, and knowing what to do in an emergency does save lives. Helping people during disasters is at the heart of our mission, and climate change is a serious threat we are all facing. While we celebrate Emergency Preparedness awareness every September, being prepared should happen all year long. Help keep your loved ones safe — get Red Cross Ready today.”

HOW TO GET PREPARED

Help keep your family safe: 1) Get a Kit. 2) Make a Plan. 3) Be Informed.

  1. Build your emergency kit with a gallon of water per person, per day, non-perishable food, a flashlight, battery-powered radio, first aid kit, medications, supplies for infants or pets, a multi-purpose tool, personal hygiene items, copies of important papers, cell phone chargers, blankets, maps of the area and emergency contact information.
  2. Plan what to do in case you and your family are separated or evacuating. Coordinate your plan with your child’s school, your work and your community. Don’t forget your pets. If you need to evacuate, so does your pet. Know which pet-friendly hotels are in your area and where your pets can stay.
  3. Stay informed by knowing how local officials will contact you during a disaster and how to get important information.

Also consider your family’s needs and each person’s capabilities. Older adults and those with disabilities need a support network that can help in an emergency, especially during an evacuation or extended loss of power.

Speak with children about preparing for common emergencies, staying safe and what to expect before a disaster happens. The Red Cross has free programs and tools to help at redcross.org/youthprep.

Free Red Cross apps are also available.

Finally, help your community prepare and respond to disasters. You can do so by donating blood, learning lifesaving skills or volunteering with the Red Cross or other organization.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Wising you a safe and happy 2015!

With the new year quickly approaching, many people will reflect on the current year and how they can improve their lives in the coming one.

With that in mind, we’ve come up with some Red Cross Resolutions that will help you, your family and your community in 2015.

#1: Get a Kit

Whether you call it your disaster kit, a survival kit or a 72-hour kit – every household should have one. This kit should include everything your family would need to survive if you needed to shelter-in-place for at least 3 days.

For an in-depth look on how to build a kit for your home and auto, take a look at this blog post (home), this one for auto or visit www.redcross.org/prepare

#2: Make a Plan

Experts agree, an individual may have as few as 2 minutes to exit a burning building.

It is important to make sure that the entire family is prepared and informed in the event of a disaster or emergency. You may not always be together when these events take place and should have plans for making sure you are able to contact and find one another.

Here are some basic steps to make sure you remain safe:

  • With your your family or household members, discuss how to prepare and respond to emergencies that are most likely to happen where you live, learn, work and play.
  • Identify responsibilities for each member of your household and plan to work together as a team.
  • If a family member is in the military, plan how you would respond if they were deployed.
  • Choose two places to meet:
    • Right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency, such as a fire.
    • Outside your neighborhood (such as a relative or friend’s house in a different part of town), in case you cannot return home or are asked to evacuate.
  • Choose an out-of-area emergency contact person. It may be easier to text or call long distance if local phone lines are overloaded or out of service. Everyone should have emergency contact information in writing or saved on their cell phones.

For more information on how to make a plan for your home, visit www.redcross.org/prepare

#3: Volunteer

There are many ways to help your community with the Red Cross. You could volunteer to assist donors at a local blood drive, turn heartbreak into hope as a Disaster Action Team member, help connect emergency communications for military families or by giving your time and talents in any of the many volunteer positions available. To get started, visit www.redcross.org/volunteer

#4: Learn CPR

Would you know what to do in a cardiac, breathing or first aid emergency? The right answer could help you save a life. With an emphasis on hands-on learning, our First Aid/CPR/AED courses give you the skills to save a life.

To view local courses, visit www.redcross.org/takeaclass

#5: Give Blood

There’s no one reason to give blood. Maybe you or a family member received blood, or you think that one day you’ll be in need of it. Maybe your friend or colleague asked you to give blood. Maybe you think it’s the right thing to do. No matter the reason, your getting involved helps the Red Cross maintain a healthy and reliable blood supply.

To find a Blood Drive or donation location near you, visit www.redcross.org/blood