Many people in this country have experienced a significant crisis in their home or neighborhood, but less than half of the people surveyed by the American Red Cross have taken steps to be prepared for emergencies.
September 2010 is National Preparedness Month, a time set aside for the last seven years to encourage Americans to prepare for emergencies in their homes, businesses and communities. The Red Cross urges everyone to take steps now to be ready when emergencies happen.
In a survey conducted late last summer, the Red Cross found that although 89 percent of those surveyed believe being prepared is important, far fewer people are ready for when that happens. Twenty percent of those surveyed have not done anything to get prepared, and aren’t sure where to get started.
“Being prepared today can save lives tomorrow,” said Steve Hansen, Regional Chapter Executive. “You are your best defense against emergencies. The Red Cross can show you what simple steps you need to take to prepare yourself and your loved ones for emergencies.”
There are three things people should do to be prepared – build an emergency preparedness kit, make a plan as to what your family will do in an emergency, and be informed about what resources are available in your community and what types of disasters could occur there.
Your emergency preparedness kit should contain enough supplies for three days in case you need to evacuate. The Red Cross also recommends having at least two weeks worth of supplies at home. Supplies should include water (one gallon, per person, per day), nonperishable food, a flashlight, battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra batteries, first aid kit, a 7-day supply of medications, a multi-purpose tool, sanitation and personal hygiene items and copies of important personal documents.
Your emergency plan should be a joint effort, including the members of your household. Make sure each person knows how to reach household members, including an out-of-area emergency contact person, and knows where to meet if they can’t go home.
Being informed is important. Learn about what resources are available and what types of disasters are most likely to occur where you live, learn, work and play. Take a first aid and CPR/AED course—a vital component of disaster preparedness in case emergency help is delayed.
You can also give blood to help keep your community prepared. It is the blood already donated and available on hospital shelves that is available in an emergency. To give blood, you must be healthy, be at least 17 years old, and weigh at least 110 pounds. Some states allow 16-year-olds to donate with parental consent. If you have given blood before, it must be 56 days since your last donation. For more information on giving blood, visit www.redcrossblood.org.
All Red Cross Chapters are urging area residents to make a renewed effort in September to prepare for emergencies such as fires, floods or storms. The Red Cross has created a free online education program to make it easier for people to get prepared. The Be Red Cross Ready program walks people through three key preparedness steps: getting an emergency kit, making an emergency plan and being informed.
A few of the specific programs happening throughout the Region include:
* Disaster Action Team volunteer, Joyce Keyes continues work on the Disaster Advisory Council. The Fond du Lac area is one of Chapters nationwide piloting a Jumpstart to Recovery Kit and “Moving Forward After a Disaster” booklets. She is from one of the 15 Chapters whose representatives were selected from around the nation to serve on committee to review prevention, preparedness and response policies and procedures. Within the past month, a Director from our National Headquarters was in Fond du Lac to the training required for this project.
* On Saturday, September 11th, the Scenic Shores Chapter partners with the Two Rivers Fire Department and Point Beach Nuclear Plan (Next Era Energy) to train Boy Scouts from cities throughout the Region for their “Emergency Preparedness” Badge. The plant also sponsors a Disaster Supplies Kit, assembled by the Red Cross, for each troop for them to use as an example. Last year, 100 Scouts participated and they were given information on all three Be Informed, Make a Plan, Build a Kit components. In addition, each participant will take home a kit containing items such as canned food (with the pop top lids so you don’t need a can opener), bottled water, a flashlight, a first aid kit, a whistle, a dust mask, hand sanitizer, garbage bags, toilet paper, and a complete list of items they should include in their own kits.
* Offices in Iron Mountain, Michigan and the Oshkosh, Wisconsin office have just completed Disaster Exercises. The first with the regional airport and the latter in collaboration with Winnebago County Emergency Management with simulated disaster event at UW Oshkosh.
* Additional programs, partnerships and training are happening throughout the Region, please check with your local Chapter for additional details.
The Northeast Wisconsin American Red Cross is a regional grouping of four Chapters serving 20 counties by providing relief to victims of disaster and helping people prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies. This regional grouping strives to maintain both consistency and momentum in serving this purpose across the multiple Chapters including the East Central Wisconsin, Lakeland Chapter, Outagamie and Scenic Shores Chapter. For more information about local activities during National Preparedness Month, contact your local Chapter or by visiting our regional website www.newredcross.org.
(1) The general preparedness findings are based on an online survey of 1,306 U.S. residents 18 years and older conducted July 24-August 7, 2009 by Harris Interactive on behalf of the American Red Cross.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation’s blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.