Sept. is National Preparedness Month

In a national effort, the American Red Cross is bringing awareness to the importance of being prepared before a disaster. “The entire family needs to be involved,” Janet Curtis, executive director for the American Red Cross Berks chapter, said. As the American Red Cross suggests, the first step is to make a plan.

“Having a game plan in place is essential for all households so everyone know what they should do when an emergency occurs,” Peter M. Brown, executive CEO, stated. In case of an emergency, families should discuss two meeting places outside the home for the household members to gather. One meeting place should be near the home, another meeting place should be further away. Families should also have an emergency contact who lives outside of the area in the event that local lines would be out of service. Another important way to be prepared is to create an emergency kit. According to a release from the American Red Cross, the kit should have a three-day supply of water, nonperishable food, a flashlight, battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra batteries, a first aid kit, 7-day supply of medications, a multi-purpose tool, sanitation and personal hygiene items and copies of important personal documents.

In Berks County, we are susceptible to threats like fires, flooding, effects of hurricanes, snowstorms, power outages and local incidents.

“The Red Cross handles over 70,000 fires a year,” Curtis said. Fires are the number one threat nationally.

Apps are now available through the Red Cross that make it easy for families to find one another after an emergency. If in an emergency, one can register on the Safe and Well site linked with the Red Cross, to find scattered loved ones. There is also a tornado app, earthquake app, wildfire app and first aid app to assist and provide information on the go.

Training to be apart of the American Red Cross is also available through apps. You can register online, and take online training. The American Red Cross is always looking for more volunteers. Donating blood is another great way to help the Red Cross with their efforts.

“We encourage everyone to get prepared,” Curtis said. “Regardless of what time you have, find what you love and volunteer.”

The American Red Cross must prepare before a disaster, too.

“We work with the schools, all over Berks County, for shelters in the area,” Kara Mowbray of the disaster department said. “We partner with the superintendent to see facilities to open a shelter if there would be an emergency.”

In addition to the tips provided, another way to be informed is to understand your community and know what resources and agencies are available before something occurs. “It’s the opportunity for the community to be ready for anything that can happen,” Curtis said. September has been National Preparedness Month since 2004.

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