Get ready for emergencies during National Preparedness Month

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer

August 30, 2019- Are you ready for an extended power outage? Could you, for example, provide your family with food and water for two weeks if the unthinkable happened?

As Hurricane Dorian approaches the southeast coast of the U.S., with potentially 50,000 people in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina in need of emergency shelter, the importance of getting prepared for any possible emergency is clear.

preparedness month 1

Most Clevelanders don’t expect a hurricane. But do you remember the power grid problems that once plagued us, right here in Northern Ohio?

Think back to August 2003

Eight U.S. states and Ontario, Canada, were left without power for up to two weeks when a power grid failure started outside Cleveland, Ohio, on Aug. 14, 2003. One of the first, dire side effects in Cleveland was that people in higher elevations would only have a three-hour supply of water.

Electric pumps could not deliver replacement water to the municipal water towers. Gas pumps did not work. Elevators did not work. Traffic lights did not work. Cash registers did not work. ATMs did not work. Business came to a halt.

Stores in my neighborhood were sold out of water and batteries in less than three hours; and they only accepted buyers with cash.

It was 14 days before all 55 million affected residents had their power restored. How would you fare if that happened today?

In honor of National Preparedness Month this September, we propose five simple tips to get ready:

  1. We are so dependent on our cellphones that you really need to consider having a backup battery source. Keeping a charged, high-capacity battery pack, like one of these, can recharge your phone multiple times.
  2. Personal emergency lights like the Red Cross Blackout Buddy are always charged and can provide a nightlight option.
  3. Do you know how to open your garage door if the power goes out? Most garage doors are controlled by an automatic garage door opener, which won’t work without electricity. However, just about all have a pull chain or cord that will release the door so you can operate it manually. Learn how it works before the power goes out.
  4. If a power surge hits your home, it could fry your computer’s hard drive and you could lose all your documents and photos. Do you keep copies of important items “in the cloud” on one of the free online storage applications like Dropbox, OneDrive or Google Backup and Sync? Even if your computer is destroyed or lost, those files will always be available at a later date if stored in the cloud.
  5. Portable camp stoves come in a variety of sizes and prices. Having one on hand is great if you need to boil water for baby bottles or to make coffee or oatmeal. Many have multiple burners that can cook entire dinners. Use only outside with good ventilation.

If you’ve read this far – congratulations. To be even better prepared, watch the video, download the   and read more here. The question isn’t, “Could it happen again?” The question is, “When will it happen again?” However, the most important question is, “Will you be ready?”

Edited Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

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