Disasters can strike quickly and often without warning. During National Preparedness Month in September, the American Red Cross, Southern Missouri Region, encourages all households to get ready for the next emergency or disaster as well as to help others to prepare.

“Having a game plan in place is essential for all households so everyone knows what they should do when an emergency occurs,” said Kobi Gillespie, chief resilience services officer for southern Missouri. “National Preparedness Month is a perfect time for southern Missouri residents to create or update their plan.”

MAKE A PLAN: It is important that everyone in the household helps put the emergency plan together and knows what they should do if something occurs. Household members may not be together when a disaster happens – during the day many people are at work and school. The plan should include ways to contact one another and two predetermined places to meet — one near the home in case of a sudden emergency like a fire, and one outside the neighborhood in case circumstances prevent people from returning home. People should also identify an emergency contact person from outside the area in case local telephone lines are overloaded or out of service.

Any emergency plan should also include decisions about where family members will go if ordered to evacuate and what route they will take to get there. It’s a good idea to include alternate routes in case roads are closed. If pets are part of the household, make sure to include plans for them such as pet-friendly hotels and animal shelters along the evacuation route.

RED CROSS APPS: The Red Cross has free mobile apps that provide information on what to do before, during and after emergencies including developing an emergency plan. “People can use the ‘Make a Plan’ feature in the apps to create their plan and then share it with their loved ones,” Gillespie said. “The preloaded content in the apps gives people access to vital information to use during emergencies, even if they can’t connect to the internet.” The apps can be downloaded from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross.

OTHER WAYS TO GET READY: Another step to get one’s household ready is to build an emergency kit in a container that is easy to carry so the family can use it at home or take it with them if asked to evacuate. It should contain a three-day supply of water (one gallon, per person, per day), nonperishable food, a flashlight, battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra batteries, a first aid kit, a seven-day supply of medications, a multi-purpose tool, sanitation and personal hygiene items and copies of important personal documents. The Red Cross also recommends having at least two weeks’ worth of emergency supplies at home. Staying informed about what types of disasters are most likely to occur where you live or where you plan to visit is important. It is also important to take a First Aid and CPR/AED course—a vital component of disaster preparedness in case emergency help is delayed.

For more information on how to prepare for emergencies, log onto redcross.org or call the Southern Missouri Region at 417-832-9500 or toll free 866-206-0256.

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