Over the past couple months, the United States has experienced a record-breaking number of tornadoes and other floods and storms. We enter hurricane season with several active disaster relief operations currently underway. And across the country, Red Cross chapters are responding to home fires in their communities on a nightly basis. Disasters can happen anytime and anywhere, yet the statistics are startling- only 7% of individuals have taken all of the steps necessary to be prepared. The good news, however, is that the majority of individuals say they would get prepared if it were easier to do.
This leaves the Red Cross constantly asking the question- how can we help make it easier for individuals and families to take the necessary steps to prepare for disaster?
Citizen and community preparedness was the topic of the Senate Subcommittee on State, Local, and Private Sector Preparedness and Integration, which was held on Thursday, June 5, in Washington, DC. Testimony was given by Suzy DeFrancis, Chief Public Affairs Officer of the American Red Cross, the Department of Homeland Security/FEMA Preparedness and local emergency management.
DeFrancis explained that the “Be Red Cross Ready” campaign, which mirrors the federal government’s campaign, offers a consistent national message that can be adapted at the local level.
The message is simple: 1) Get a kit, 2) Make a plan, and 3) Be informed. Taking these three easy steps before an emergency sitatuion arises can save lives.
DeFrancis also stressed the importance of using multiple messengers to spread the message of preparedness. “If people hear the same message from different sources they trust, they are more likely to believe it and act on it,” said DeFrancis.
So the Red Cross teamed up with businesses, schools, community organizations, and government to reach people where they live, work and play.
The Red Cross involves the business community across the country, working with them to develop corporate volunteer programs. In addition, because children are very effective messengers in getting their parents to prepare, the Red Cross developed a program called Masters of Disaster, which is taught in schools and other youth-serving organizations across the country and available for families to use together at home.
“Summer is a good time to get prepared and get the kids involved in helping. They have some time on their hands, and they know how to use the internet. I encourage families to go to redcross.org and click on Preparing for a Disaster. You will be taken to our Be Red Cross Ready online presentation,” said DeFrancis. In addition to learning more about the three-step plan, you will see a number of tools and resources to help you become prepared.
Redcross.org has a shopping list of items you need for a preparedness kit or you can order already assembled kits online from our Red Cross store. Now is the time to prepare, don’t wait another minute.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and counsels victims of disasters; provides nearly half of the nation's blood supply; teaches lifesaving skills; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization – not a government agency – and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its humanitarian mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at www.redcrosschat.org.