"I wasn't Red Cross Ready before, but I am now," said Jody Rodman.
A recent house fire opened her eyes to the importance of being prepared for emergencies, especially for families living overseas. Jody, her husband Shawn and their three children have been living in Hohenfels, Germany for the last 10 years. Shawn is a high school teacher for the U.S. Department of Defense Dependent Schools and teaches the children of members of Armed Forces. Jody is an American Red Cross volunteer.
"It's very important for everyone to be prepared for emergencies, especially military families and other people living overseas or separated from loved ones. It can be very isolating and you don't always know where to go to for help," Jody said.
Luckily, no one was home when the fire that started in the kitchen ravaged the Rodman's house. They lost almost everything: clothes, bedding, toys, towels, furniture. The local chapter of the American Red Cross, stationed on a nearby military post, was there to help the family get back on their feet.
"When you move all the time you don't always know what resources are available to you or you may not speak the language very well. It's not like you can just run over to Target to buy whatever you need," Jody said.
The Rodman family has learned a lot from the experience and is now "Red Cross Ready." They have purchased additional fire extinguishers and smoke detectors for the house as well as rope ladders for the upstairs bedrooms. They also keep a fire-safe box to store important papers and their passports.
"It's easy to be complacent. I never dreamed this would happen to us. It turned our world upside down and changed how we do everything," Jody said.
There are many situations families should be prepared for, such as storms, power outages, and first aid emergencies. It's important for individuals and families to find out what types of emergencies or disasters are most common in their area and prepare accordingly.
To make sure your family is "Red Cross Ready," the American Red Cross recommends you take three simple action steps: 1) Get a kit, 2) Make a plan and 3) Be informed.
Every household should have an emergency preparedness kit with enough essential supplies to last three days, including water, nonperishable food, a flashlight and important medications. You can download a full list of disaster supplies and create a personalized shopping list by visiting www.redcross.org/BeRedCrossReady.
The Red Cross provides a variety of services to members of the Armed Forces and their families, such as communication links, access to financial assistance and counseling; these services are in addition to those it provides to all members of the community. If there is an emergency while your family member is deployed, the Red Cross can help send an emergency message to them. Even if the service member receives an e-mail or phone call from home, Red Cross-verified information assists commanding officers with making a decision regarding emergency leave.
September is National Preparedness Month, and the American Red Cross wants individuals and families to have the peace of mind that comes with being prepared. Get involved now and help yourself, your family and community "Be Red Cross Ready" this month and make a personal "Pledge to Prepare" at www.redcross.org/en/NPM2008.
For more information, visit www.redcross.org for more resources.
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.