Disaster preparedness? Easier than it sounds.

Steve with his daughter Sophie — who’s going to be a first-time driver next year and already has an emergency kit.

Personal experiences push forth the importance of being prepared. Take Twin Cities resident Steve Davis who experienced the 1996 snow storm that brought Philadelphia to a standstill. He laughingly recounts “perhaps I was the only one in Philly who had a shovel on that cold, freezing night.” Stuck in slush and not any help in the offing, Steve’s kit came to his rescue.

Steve always carries an emergency kit in his car, a habit instilled in him since his late teens by his father. Perhaps Steve’s dad knew, like we do, that disaster can happen to anyone, anytime and anywhere. Being proactive helps lessen the impact of emergencies during times of adversity.

The good news is that preparing is easier than it sounds. These three steps will get you going:

We urge everyone to be proactive when it comes to disaster preparedness. Your readiness helps you, your loved ones, and in many cases your neighbors, especially those who are especially vulnerable. Resist waiting until an emergency occurs because by then it can be too late to help.

By Sohini Sarkar, American Red Cross

This Holiday Give the Gift of Preparedness

fireescape_imageAs Red Crossers, we know disasters can strike at any moment and being prepared before they happen is vital for reducing their impact. We also know the most effective way to engage people with disaster preparedness is for them to hear the message from someone they know.

So, this holiday season we ask you to take the steps below and show your loved ones that you care by helping them prepare for emergencies.

  1. Take 30 minutes to talk through your family disaster plan with household members and that everyone has the same understanding of what to do if there is a disaster.
  2. Once your plan is complete, share with others outside your household the importance of being Red Cross Ready and having a family disaster plan, a disaster kit and downloading the free Red Cross First Aid App to their mobile device. You can use this list of disaster preparedness talking points to get the conversations started.
  3. Keep track of the people you talk with here. There will be a prize for the person who has the most conversations about disaster preparedness between now and January 2!

As a friend, neighbor, community member and Red Crosser, this is a great chance to join together and educate your neighbors, friends and family members about a topic that is very important. For additional preparedness materials and support, contact Jenn Hamrick at 612-604-3290 or jenn.hamrick@redcross.org.

Home Alone Safety Steps

Children are returning to school during the coming weeks. Some will be spending time home alone until parents return home from work. Now’s the time for both parents and children to take and learn safety steps that will make after-school hours at home alone safer and less stressful for everyone.

Top ten steps parents + guardians can take:

  1. Develop a home safety plan and discuss and practice it with the whole family.
  2. If a child is going home after school, have him or her call to check in after arriving home.
  3. For an older child, set ground rules about whether other kids can come over, whether cooking is okay, and whether the child can leave home.
  4. Post an emergency phone list where the child can see it.
  5. Make sure the first aid kit is stocked and stored where your children can find it, but keep our of reach of young children.
  6. Identify neighbors whose home your child can go to in case of an emergency.
  7. Remove or safely store in locked areas dangerous items like guns, ammunition, knives, hand tools, power tools, razor blades, scissors, and other objects that can cause injury.
  8. Make sure potential poisons like detergents, polishes, pesticides, care-care fluids, lighter fluid and lamp oils are stored in locked cabinets or out of the reach of children.
  9. Make sure medicine is kept in a locked storage place or out of the reach of children.
  10. Make sure at least one approved smoke alarm is installed and operating on each level of the home.

Top ten steps kids can take:

  1. Lock the door and make sure all the windows are closed and locked.
  2. Never open the door to strangers.
  3. Never open the door to delivery people or service representatives.
  4. Never tell someone on the telephone that mom or dad are not at home. Say something like “My mom is busy right now. Can I take a message?”
  5. Do not talk about being home alone on public websites.
  6. Never leave the house without permission.
  7. Do not go outside to check out an unusual noise. If the noise worries you, call mom, dad, or the police.
  8. Do not have friends over to visit when mom or dad aren’t at home without permission.
  9. Do not let anyone inside who is using drugs or alcohol, even if you know them.
  10. If you smell smoke or hears a fire or smoke alarm, get outside and ask a neighbor to call the fire department.

Perhaps you have more steps + tips that you’d like to share. Also, visit redcross.org to learn more about being Red Cross ready before, during, and after emergencies.