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.

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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

September is National Preparedness Month

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer and Disaster Action Team member

One of the most often heard phrases during and after a disaster is “If I had only thought to (insert any of the following suggestions), I wouldn’t be in this mess now.” This is known as the “could of – should of” syndrome. You knew you could have prepared. You knew you should have prepared. But you didn’t.

Well, this September is your chance to get it done. The American Red Cross offers some helpful tips. All you need to do is follow through.

As we consider all the natural disasters that could strike, there are some basics that will apply across the board to hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, wildfires, etc.

  • Don’t wait until the day of a disaster to think about what to pack. Be prepared if you need to evacuate. Make a list of “must have” items right now and keep it somewhere handy.
    1. Have a family plan for a meeting place in case some family members are not home when you have to evacuate. In case someone comes looking for you, leave written instructions in the home as to where you went.first aid kit
    1. Pack enough for 72 hours at least. Pack the following items in an easy-to-carry container: a gallon of water per person, per day; non-perishable food; flashlight and hand-crank or battery-powered radio; extra batteries; sanitation and personal hygiene items; copies of important papers; extra cash; and any medical or baby supplies family members may need. Plan for your pets as well. Additional suggestions here. Even more suggestions here.
    1. Fill your car with gas. Never let it go below a half tank when threatening weather exists.
    1. Pay attention to officials and evacuate when suggested. Those who linger are the ones who find themselves in trouble.
  • The American Red Cross has multiple apps for iOS and Android with directions to mobile-apps-emergencylocal shelters, emergency first aid instructions and weather-related specifics. Download them to your phone now in case your wireless goes out later.
  • Simulate an emergency some weekend. Make sure your “Go Kit” fits in the car and spend a night away somewhere. Make a list of those things you wish you had included.
  • When you get home, make the changes and you’ll be ready in the event an emergency occurs.
  • Share your experience with other family and friends who don’t live with you.

Congratulations! You’ve just avoided the “could of – should of” syndrome and your family will be ready should an emergency strike.

Having worked in many emergency shelters, I know that those who were prepared are much better able to deal with the inconvenience of leaving their homes. Forgetting your wallet, your glasses or your medications just make the experience twice as stressful.

To learn more about how the Red Cross helps in emergencies, see these local and national articles. After you learn all that Red Cross does, hopefully you’ll want to make a donation.

Preparing the Community (And the Volunteer Jobs that go with it)

By: Debra, Regional Volunteer Specialist

September is Preparedness Month and throughout Northeast Ohio the Red Cross is asking that individuals, families, and businesses to be Red Cross Ready.  Red Crossers know that preparedness begins with them; by taking a few simple preparedness steps they help save themselves and their family when an emergency strikes and are taking action to bolster their resilience should the unthinkable happen.  From July 2014 through June 2015 the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio responded to 967 incidents across 22 counties, providing comfort and hope to those affected.

Red Cross volunteers expand on this promotion for preparedness through their actions of volunteering;  passionately sharing resource information with members of their community, to help change behavior and reduce the risk of injury and loss due to an emergency. 

Three years ago The Pillowcase Project was implemented in Red Cross regions nationwide. The program, which was developed after Hurricane Katerina and through support from Disney, focuses on reaching young students (3rd-5th grade) and sharing preparedness resources and resiliency techniques.  Volunteer Pillowcase Project Instructors complete a training course that hones their preparedness knowledge and presentation skills and readies them to conduct classroom instruction and interactive activities in schools, summer camps, youth programs and after-school settings.  The program empowers students to act as advocates for disaster preparedness in their homes and communities, as well as teaches them how to use coping skills to help manage stress during emergencies and in everyday situations.

Community Disaster Education (CDE) Presenters continue to encourage adult community members, organizations and agencies by promoting and conducting public speaking and/or booth support on how to prevent and prepared for emergencies. Preparing the nearly 4.5 million residents Northeast Ohio home is no small feat, but Red Cross volunteers participate in many community outreach events across our area, helping to educate over 75,000 individuals annually.

If you are interested in volunteering to prepare your community in either of these capacities, please visit our website: www.redcross.org/neo and click on Volunteer on the left side of the screen. You will be dropped directly into the application process. You may also call 216-431-3328 or email, NEOvolunteer@redcross.org.

Protecting every member of your family with your 72-hour kit

FamilyThere is nothing more frustrating (or hilarious, depending on how you view it) than going through your 72-hour kit and seeing a huge pack of newborn diapers intended to fit your 15-month-old toddler.

That teensy, tiny diaper simply isn’t going to cut it.

If you are the parent or care-giver to an infant or toddler, you will need to go through your 72-hour emergency kit quarterly to keep up with your ever growing child.

For those who haven’t built a 72-hour kit, yet, here are some items you will need in addition to your family’s regular kit:

  • 96 oz of water (about ¾ of a gallon) will cover a 72-hour span. Keep in mind, infants may drink up 32 oz a day when mixed with formula. If you are breastfeeding, keep more on hand for you to drink to in order to keep up your supply.
  • POWDERED Formula. Make sure that you have enough to cover the number of bottles and ounces that your baby drinks during the day, times three.
  • Bottles and nipples (make sure they are the right size of nipple for your child!) The more you have in your kit, the less washing and sterilizing you will have to do.
  • A large pack of diapers.
  • Baby wipes.
  • Diaper rash ointment.
  • Re-sealable gallon bags (for soiled clothes and diapers).
  • Clothing:
    • 3-5 onsies.
    • 3-5 footed pajamas.
    • 6-10 pairs of socks.
  • Burp cloths.
  • 3-5 receiving blankets.
  • 1-2 fleece (or heavier) blankets.
  • Toys, teething rings or other items to occupy attention.
  • Copy of Immunization Record in the family files.
  • Add to the first aid kit:
    • Teething gel.
    • Infant acetaminophen.
    • Infant ibuprofen.
    • Bulb syringe.
    • Hand sanitizer.

When you go through your kit (quarterly!) be sure to pay attention to your diaper sizes, clothing sizes, nipple sizes and amount of formula on hand (if needed).

Don’t forget about your pets! In the event of a disaster they will have supply needs as well. Here are some tips to keep your four-legged family members safe during a disaster:

  • Store extra food, water, bowls, litter box, medicine, first aid supplies and health records for each animal with your 72-hour kit.
  • Leashes and pet carriers should be together and accessible.
  • Before disaster strikes, identify pet-friendly places to stay within a 50-mile radius. Keep your pet with you if at all possible during a disaster.
  • Have current health/vaccination records, proof of ownership and brand or microchip identification.

To ensure that all members of your family are safe during a disaster, download the Red Cross First Aid apps available for people or pets. For more information on building a 72-hour kit, check out redcross.org!

Join the Red Cross and Federal Emergency Management Agency in the second annual PrepareAthon on September 30

Join us for the second annual America’s PrepareAthon! national day of action.

The last few years have been an important reminder to all of us that disasters can strike anytime and anyplace. Nearly every region of the country experienced some form of extreme weather event, including devastating tornadoes in Oklahoma, scorching wildfires throughout California, and destructive flooding in Northeastern Ohio.

The destructive power of weather affects all communities. Learning how prepare for an emergency will help determine your course of action during a disaster.

The destructive power of weather affects all communities. Learning how prepare for an emergency will help determine your course of action during a disaster.

As with many life events, preparation is the key to success. When you prepare and practice for an emergency in advance of an event, it makes a real difference in your ability to take immediate and informed action when it matters most. Early action can also help you to recover more quickly.

That’s why thousands of individuals, organizations, schools, houses of worship, and local governments across the Nation are actively participating in a new national campaign for action – America’s PrepareAthon!

The Red Cross continues to support and promote this action-based initiative to build a more resilient Nation starting with the national day of action on September 30.

Can’t participate on September 30? Preparing for disasters is a year-round activity. So pick a date that works for you. You can still register to be counted in the movement. And be sure to post your preparedness activities on the national calendar.

It’s not a matter of if the next disaster will happen, but when. Take action and prepare now by completing simple steps such as making a plan and having an emergency kit. Start the conversation in your family today. It can help determine what you need to do next to become more prepared.

Be smart, take part, and prepare for emergencies before they strike!

Disaster preparedness for pets too!

When disaster strikes, all members of the family should be prepared with a disaster kit – including your pets.  Keep items in an accessible place and store them in sturdy containers so that they can be carried easily.

Pictured beside Zack and Zoe are leashes, water, food, Vet information, dog toys, a towel, dog treats, medical history, medicine, current picture of Z&Z and a water bowl.

Pictured beside Zack and Zoe are leashes, water, food, Vet information, dog toys, a towel, dog treats, medical history, medicine, current picture of Z&Z and a water bowl.

Your kit should include—

  • Sturdy leashes, harnesses and/or carriers to transport pets safely and ensure that they can’t escape.
  • Food, drinking water, bowls, cat litter/pan and a manual can opener.
  • Medications and copies of medical records stored in a waterproof container.
  • A first aid kit and download the Pet First Aid App
  • Current photos of you with your pet(s) in case they get lost. Since many pets look alike, this will help to eliminate mistaken identity and confusion.
  • Information on feeding schedules, medical conditions, behavior problems, and the name and number of your veterinarian in case you have to foster or board your pets.
  • Pet beds and toy

Click here for a complete list of pet disaster preparedness items: http://www.redcross.org/images/MEDIA_CustomProductCatalog/m3640126_PetSafety.pdf

Pets will look to family members for comfort during all the changes that disasters bring.  Having a plan ahead of time will reduce stress and ensure you that you can care for your furry family members.