National Preparedness Month: Three easy steps

By: Nadine Banks

You’re home watching TV when an emergency alert blares on the screen: Local authorities are recommending evacuation due to an impending emergency. What’s your next move?

Some may meet this scenario with panic. You however, know exactly what to do: You grab your supplies and execute your well-rehearsed disaster plan.  

September is National Disaster Preparedness Month, and the American Red Cross is uniquely qualified to prepare you for the unexpected, whether it’s a home fire, flash flood, or something else. By definition, an emergency is unforeseen—nobody thinks the worst will happen to them. That’s the kind of thinking that can lead to panic. You can take three easy, but critical, action steps to get your household ready for emergencies:

1.Build a kit – Build an easy-to-carry emergency preparedness kit that you can use at home or take with you if you have to evacuate. Include items such as water, non-perishable food, a flashlight and extra batteries, a battery powered radio, first aid kit and medications.

2. Make a plan – Talk with members of your household about what to 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.

3. Be informed. o Know what kinds of emergency situations may occur where you live, where you work, and where you go to school. Get trained in First Aid and CPR/AED skills so you’ll know what to do in an emergency if help is delayed. Don’t forget your pets, plan for them too. To learn more about how to get your family prepared, visit, or download one of our free apps by searching for ‘American Red Cross’ in your app store.

Everyone in your household should participate in emergency planning and help build the kit; also, inform family and friends outside the home of your plans. And don’t forget your pets! Keep a list of pet-friendly places to stay and have their food and supplies ready to go.

The Red Cross offers a wealth of information and resources to help you prepare for disaster; just visit In addition to info on CPR and AED training, you can access free apps such as Emergency (which offers over 35 customizable weather and emergency alerts), Monster Guard (which teaches kids ages 7 to 11 about staying safe in an emergency), and First Aid (which has step-by-step instructions on dealing with common first aid emergencies).

Disasters may also affect blood drives and blood supplies, which can be critical in the hours and days after an event, so visit, download the Blood Donor app, or call 1-800-RED-CROSS to schedule a blood donation.  

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