Make Being Prepared One Of Your New Year’s Resolutions

It’s that time of year when many people look forward to the New Year, a fresh start and what they would like to change to make their lives better. Many resolve to lose weight, exercise more, eat healthier. The Oregon Red Cross asks that everyone resolve to make 2012 the year they get prepared, to be “Red Cross Ready” when emergencies happen. Families can look ahead and determine how to deal with disasters, whether it be a fire in the home or something that affects their entire neighborhood. They need to know what emergencies are most likely to happen in their area. Knowing what to do when disaster strikes can make a difference for everyone in your household and your community. To be prepared, you should:

1. Get a kit. If you’ve ever had to search for your flashlight when the power goes out, you know what it feels like to be unprepared. The Red Cross has a downloadable checklist to help you assemble your emergency preparedness kit. It should include the following:
Ready-To-Go Emergency Preparedness Kit

  • A three-day supply of non-perishable food and water—one gallon per person, per day for drinking and hygiene purposes.
  • A battery-powered or hand crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible).
  • At least one flashlight and extra batteries.
  • A first-aid kit, which should include all prescription and OTC medications and any necessary medical items.
  • Copies of all important documents (proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies).
  • Extra cash in a variety of denominations.

2. Make a plan. Talk with members of your household about what to do during emergencies. Plan what to do in case everyone is separated, and choose two places to meet—one right outside the home, in case of a sudden emergency such as a fire, and another outside the neighborhood, in case you cannot return home or are asked to evacuate. Other tips on how you should formulate your emergency plan are:

  • Choose an out-of-area emergency contact person. All household members should have this person’s phone number and email address. It may be easier to call long distance or text if local phone lines are overloaded or out of service.
  • Tell everyone in the household where emergency information and supplies are kept.
  • Practice evacuating your home twice a year. Travel your planned evacuation route and plot alternate routes on a map in case main roads are impassable.
  • Plan ahead for your pets. If you must evacuate, make arrangements for your animals. Keep a handy list of “pet friendly” accommodations and animal shelters along your evacuation routes.

3. Be informed. Know what situations may occur where you live, where you work, where you go to school.

  • If you live or travel often to areas near a fault line, learn how to prepare and what to do during an earthquake. If summer includes a trip to the beach, know what to do in case you are faced with a tropical storm, hurricane or tsunami. Remember that emergencies like fires and blackouts can happen anywhere, so everyone should be prepared for them.
  • Find out how local officials inform the public in the event of an emergency.
  • Learn first aid and CPR/AED so that you have the skills to respond in a situation before help arrives, especially during a disaster when emergency responders may not be immediately available. Contact the Oregon Red Cross to sign up for training.

As you look to the new year and what you would like to change, add getting prepared to your list of resolutions for 2012. Visit the preparedness section of the American Red Cross website to know what to do, to keep yourself and your loved ones safe, in all types of emergencies. Enjoy a safe and Happy New Year.