|September 19, 2013
The American Red Cross urges Montana households to prepare for emergencies
Does your family have a disaster plan?
BOZEMAN — Disasters can strike quickly and often without warning. During National Preparedness Month, the American Red Cross of Montana urges Montanans to get ready for the next emergency or disaster by planning for it now.
“We all like to think that disasters will never happen to us,” says Rod Kopp, CEO of Montana Red Cross. “However, every day disasters happen to people who didn’t think they were at risk and then learn otherwise. At Montana Red Cross, we know that people who prepare are much better off than people who don’t.”
This September, the American Red Cross challenges Montana households to prepare for emergencies by completing the Red Cross’s three fundamental steps: (1) assemble a preparedness kit, (2) make an evacuation plan, (3) determine how to stay informed during a major emergency. Montana Red Cross will send weekly reminders to their Facebook and Twitter followers this month to help them complete all three steps. To receive the reminders, like Montana Red Cross’s Facebook page (https://facebook.com/montanaredcross) or follow the organization on Twitter (https://twitter.com/montanaredcross).
Build a kit
An easy step to get ready is to build an emergency kit in a container that is easy to carry, so it can be used at home or taken along if there is a need 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 multi-purpose tool, sanitation and personal hygiene items and copies of important personal documents. The Red Cross also recommends having at least two weeks’ worth of emergency supplies at home.
Make a plan
It is important that every member in the household participates in putting an emergency plan together so that everyone knows what their role is if a disaster happens. Household members may not be together when an emergency situation develops – during the day many people are at work or at 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 like during a wildfire. People should also identify an emergency contact person from outside their area in case local telephone lines are overloaded or out of service.
Any emergency plan should also include decisions about where family members will go if ordered to evacuate and what route they will take to get there. It’s a good idea to include alternate routes in case some roads are closed. If pets are part of the household, make sure to include plans for them such as identifying pet-friendly hotels and animal shelters along the evacuation route.
Everyone also needs to get informed about what types of disasters are most likely to occur where they live or where they plan to visit—different disasters require different preparations. Identify how local authorities will notify you during a disaster and how you will get information, whether through local radio, TV, or NOAA Weather Radio stations or channels. Know the difference between different weather alerts such as watches and warnings and what actions to take in each case.
Other ways to get ready
Request a free Red Cross preparedness workshop. Montana Red Cross will deliver free Get Ready, Montana preparedness workshops to your business, church or civic group, free of charge. From a 45-minute information-oriented presentation to a hands-on workshop on how to complete a family disaster plan, Montana Red Cross will tailor the workshop to your group’s needs.
To request a workshop, go to www.redcross.org/montana and fill out our online request form or call 1-800-ARC-MONT (1-800-272-6668) and ask to speak with our preparedness director.
Download free 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,” Kopp says. “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.
Take a class. 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.
For more information on how to prepare for emergencies or on how to take a Red Cross class, visit www.redcross.org/montana or call 1-800-ARC-MONT (1-800-272-6668).
Give blood. 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. Thousands of blood donations are needed every day for patients who need blood to help in their battle back to health. 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. Donors should bring their Red Cross blood donor card or other form of positive ID with them. Some states allow 16-year-olds to give with parental consent.
To schedule a donation time or to get more information about giving blood, go to www.redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).