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The American Red Cross urges families to prepare for emergencies

By Melissa Gaona, mgaona@wdbj7.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 05:19:34 AM EST
Updated On: Sep 04 2013 10:59:57 AM EDT

The American Red Cross encourages you to come up with a disaster plan.

ROANOKE, Va. -

During National Preparedness Month, the American Red Cross encourages all households to get ready for the next emergency or disaster. “Having a game plan in place is essential for all households so everyone knows what they should do when an emergency occurs,” said Annie Harvey, Executive Director, New River Valley Chapter. “National Preparedness Month is a perfect time for our communities to create or update their plan.”

MAKE A PLAN - It is important that everyone in the household helps put the emergency plan together and knows what they should do if something occurs.
Household members may not be together when a disaster happens – during the day many people are at work and school.

The plan should include ways to contact one another and two predetermined places to meet – one near the home in case of a sudden emergency like a fire, and one outside the neighborhood in case circumstances prevent people from returning home.

People should also identify an emergency contact person from outside the area in case local telephone lines are overloaded or out of service.

If pets are part of the household, make sure to include plans for them such as pet-friendly hotels and animal shelters along the evacuation route.

RED CROSS APPS - The Red Cross has free mobile apps that provide information on what to do before, during and after emergencies, including developing an emergency plan. “People can use the ‘Make a Plan’ feature in the apps to create their plan and then share it with their loved ones,” Harvey said. “The preloaded content in the apps gives people access to vital information to use during emergencies, even if they can’t connect to the internet.”

The apps can be downloaded from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross.

OTHER WAYS TO GET READY - Another step to get one’s household ready is to build an emergency kit in a container that is easy to carry so the family can use it at home or take it with them if asked to evacuate.

It should contain a three-day supply of water (one gallon, per person, per day), nonperishable food, a flashlight, battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra batteries, a first aid kit, a 7-day supply of medications, a multipurpose tool, sanitation and personal hygiene items and copies of important personal documents.

Everyone also needs to stay informed about what types of disasters are most likely to occur where they live or where they plan to visit.

It is also important to take a First Aid and CPR/AED course—a vital component of disaster preparedness in case emergency help is delayed.

Another way people can help ensure their community is ready for a disaster is to give blood.

When an emergency occurs, it is the blood already on the shelves that is available to help patients who need it.

If someone would like to give blood, they must be at least 17 years of age, meet weight and height requirements and be in general good health. Some states allow 16-year-olds to give with parental consent.

During the month of September, the New River Valley Chapter is offering preparedness presentations to businesses, civic organizations, faith-based groups, neighborhood groups, schools and others.

People will learn how to develop their Family Disaster Plan, receive preparedness tips and learn more about preparedness in the community.

Call the chapter (540-639-2140) to arrange for someone to speak at your
next meeting.