Get prepared for disasters in 2017


GREENVILLE — As the New Year arrived and many people were making resolutions about things they want to accomplish in 2017, the American Red Cross was busy responding to home fires. Over the holiday weekend, volunteers from the Red Cross helped 90 people in South Carolina after home fires. The Red Cross is asking everyone in the Upstate to add getting prepared for emergencies to their list of resolutions for the coming year.

“Households need to plan what they would do if an emergency situation occurs,” said Louise Welch Williams, CEO for the Palmetto SC Region of the Red Cross. “All it takes is three easy steps, get a disaster kit ready; develop an emergency plan and be informed about what possible risks you may face where you live.”

By taking steps now, individuals will be better prepared to take care of themselves, their family and their community should a disaster strike. The Red Cross has three easy steps to help people keep their resolutions to get prepared.

1. Get a kit. If you’ve ever fumbled to find a flashlight during a blackout, you know what it feels like to be unprepared. Use a downloadable checklist available on redcross.org to make it easy to get your emergency preparedness kit ready. You should include:

• Three-day supply of non-perishable food and water — one gallon per person, per day for drinking and hygiene purposes

• Battery-powered or hand crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)

• Flashlight and extra batteries

• First aid kit, medications and medical items

• Copies of all important documents (proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)

• Extra cash

2. Make a plan. Talk with household members about what you would do during emergencies. Plan what to do in case you are separated, and choose two places to meet – one right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency such as a fire, and another outside your neighborhood in case you cannot return home or are asked to evacuate.

• Choose a contact person from out of the area and make sure all household members 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. Drive your planned evacuation route and plot alternate routes on a map in case main roads are impassable.

• Don’t forget your pets. If you must evacuate, make arrangements for your animals. Keep a phone list of “pet friendly” motels/hotels and animal shelters that are along your evacuation routes.

3. Be informed. Know the risks where you live, work, learn and play.

• If summer brings to mind not just beaches and picnics but also tropical storms and hurricanes, arm yourself with information about what to do in case one occurs. If you travel to areas near a fault line, learn how to prepare and what to do during an earthquake. If your adventures bring you places with harsh winter water, learn how to take care of yourself during a blizzard. Remember that emergencies like home fires and blackouts can happen anywhere, so everyone should be prepared for them.

• Find out how you would receive information from local officials in the event of an emergency.

• Learn First Aid and CPR/AED so that you have the skills to respond in an emergency before help arrives, especially during a disaster when emergency responders maybe delayed. Visit redcross.org/takeaclass for online and in-class offerings and to register.

Download Red Cross Apps

Download the Red Cross Emergency App to receive emergency alerts and information about what to do in case of emergencies, as well as locations of open Red Cross shelters. It is a single ‘go-to’ source for 14 different types of emergencies and disasters and allows users to notify loved ones who are in an affected area. Download the Monster Guard App so 7- to 11-year-olds will have a free, fun, gaming environment to learn how to prevent emergencies, like home fires, and how to stay safe if severe weather or natural disasters occur. People can download the apps for free in their app stores or at redcross.org/apps.

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/SC or @RedCrossSC.

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