Red Cross highlights preparedness month

Posted: Monday, September 18, 2006

Whether you are interested in preparing for a personal emergency like choking or for a larger emergency like an earthquake, your local office of the American Red Cross of Alaska has the training for you.

As Alaskans, we all know being prepared for disasters is especially important. Our isolation from the Lower 48 and Canada means that we can expect no help for up to a week from outside sources. To prepare for such an emergency, the Red Cross has put together some simple steps:

· Make a plan — The first part of any preparations is to have a plan and to communicate that plan to your loved ones. Your plans should have two of everything, two contacts (one in Alaska and one out of Alaska), two meeting points (one in your neighborhood and one outside of your neighborhood), and two ways out of every room in case of evacuation.

· Build a kit — Your kit should prepare you for seven days: Food and water are essential parts of it — one gallon per person per day; a water filter may be helpful; common items like a flashlight, work gloves, a first aid kit and copies of important documents should be kept in an easily transportable item like a backpack or a bucket.

· Remember to have a radio with working batteries. Radios will help provide you with information during large disasters.

· You also will want to have some sort of entertainment — a deck of cards, crossword puzzles or a coloring book with crayons (disasters can be boring after the first few hours.)

If you can’t afford a seven-day kit, start with a three-day kit and then build your supplies a little at a time.

· Get training — During big events, local emergency providers may become overwhelmed and help will be sent out on a priority basis. Your training in CPR and first aid may provide the additional time needed for help to arrive.

Not all disasters are big events. Small disasters like choking and cardiac arrest can occur at any time. As someone trained in first aid and CPR, you will know what to do and may be able to save someone’s life.

· Volunteer — Volunteering before an event happens will help you and your community be prepared. As a volunteer with the Red Cross, you can learn about the services we provide and how to deliver those services. While volunteering, you will be building a sense of community and a network of people who may be helping you out in the next disaster.

You also can help strengthen the Red Cross position to respond to disasters by helping with fundraising, setting up Memorandums of Understanding with different organizations, by teaching about community preparedness and by volunteering to help with events that build community, train people to help or test our current capacity to respond.

The American Red Cross of Alaska encourages everyone to be prepared, to build a kit and have a plan in place before a disaster occurs.

The American Red Cross is available to come to your workplace or school to talk about disaster preparedness. These are fun and informative classes that will help educate you on the proactiveness of preparedness.

For more information or to schedule a class, call 283-4556.

This article was written by Annette Hakkinen, district manager, Kenai Peninsula, American Red Cross of Alaska.

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