This weekend, people across the country will turn their clocks back an hour as daylight savings comes to an end. In addition to gaining an hour of sleep, this annual turning back of the clock is a handy reminder to take time out to prepare for life’s emergencies.
In addition to the basics, emergency supplies kits should include any unique or special items for the individual needs of your household members, such as food, formula and diapers for babies.
(Photo Credit: American Red Cross)
You and your loved ones can Be Red Cross Ready by incorporating three simple but vital preparedness steps today.
Get a Kit
Semi-annual events, such as changing the clocks, are great reminders to prepare yourself and your loved ones by making or updating your emergency supplies kit. The changing of the seasons is a perfect reminder to refresh supplies to ensure that you and your family are ready for cooler weather.
There are six categories of items you should stock for your home in case of an emergency: water, food, first aid supplies, clothing and bedding, tools and emergency supplies and special items for medical conditions. Keep supplies in an easy-to-carry container in a cool, dry place. Be sure to consider special needs for pets, children and elderly members of the family.
The Red Cross recommends you start with the following basic items when creating your emergency supplies kit, and then customize it to meet the individual needs of each member of your household.
- Keep at least a gallon of water per person per day, for a minimum of three days. Store at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food you would want eat and select high-energy foods that require no refrigeration, preparation or cooking.
- Battery-operated radio and extra batteries.
- Flashlight and extra batteries.
- A first aid kit.
- Prescription or non-prescription medications based on your needs.
- Copies of important documents, such as wills, deeds, insurance papers and passports, as well as cash or traveler’s checks, in a waterproof bag.
- Toiletries, paper products and personal hygiene items.
- Manual can opener and utility knife.
- Mess kits or paper cups, plates and utensils.
- Seasonal clothing such as fleece, rain gear or sturdy boots.
- Blankets and sleeping bags.
If you have made a kit already, now is a great time to replace items that are old or may have expired such as batteries, medications or water. If there are new additions to your family, such as a child or a pet, it may be necessary to modify your kit as well.
For a more information and a detailed list of items for customizing kits, visit the "Get Prepared" section of Redcross.org. To purchase and customize a ready-made emergency supplies kit, visit the RedCross.org Store.
Make a Plan
“Whether you live alone or with loved ones, it’s important to develop a plan so that people know where you will be in the event of an emergency,” said Keith Robertory, American Red Cross preparedness expert. “Practice your plan often with your family to make sure everyone knows how to evacuate safely.”
Take time now to make or update your disaster plan. Plan ahead for the possibility of becoming separated from your family and friends by choosing an out-of-area contact that each family member can call or email should a disaster occur. If you already have a designated contact, update your communications plan by checking in with your contact and making sure all loved ones have the proper phone number and instructions. In the event of some emergencies, teach children how and when to call 9-1-1 and post all emergency numbers by the phone for easy access.
The Red Cross Safe and Well Web site, accessible through Redcross.org, is a useful tool for families separated by disaster. For more information, please visit the Safe and Well Web site.
Take time now to make an evacuation plan. Think about how you will assist younger and older household members who may need extra help getting out as well as how to evacuate family pets or service animals. (Photo Credit: American Red Cross)
An important step in being prepared is knowing what may happen and what you can and should do.
Be sure to know what types of disasters and emergencies might occur where you live, work or play. These events can vary—from those affecting only you and/or your loved ones like a home fire or medical emergency to those affecting your entire community such as an earthquake or flood.
Be sure that you know how local authorities will communicate or contact you during a disaster and how you will get updates on the current situation.
You also can prepare yourself by contacting your local Red Cross chapter to inquire about CPR and First Aid classes as well as disaster training.
Additional Uses for Your "Extra Hour"
Home fires are the most common disasters in the United States and having working smoke alarms throughout your home could save lives. Install a smoke alarm outside each sleeping area and on each additional level of your home. It is also important to test the alarms once a month to make sure they are in good working condition. In addition, don’t forget to check your carbon monoxide detectors. Make it a habit to replace the batteries in these devices twice a year when daylight savings time begins and ends
As we gain an hour of sleep this weekend, take the time to gain a sense of security for you and your loved ones by taking time to prepare for disaster.
To learn more about way to prepare yourself, your family, your school or your workplace, visit the "Get Prepared" section of RedCross.org.
The American Red Cross has helped people mobilize to help their neighbors for 125 years. Last year, victims of a record 72,883 disasters, most of them fires, turned to the nearly 1 million volunteers and 35,000 employees of the Red Cross for help and hope. Through more than 800 locally supported chapters, more than 15 million people each year gain the skills they need to prepare for and respond to emergencies in their homes, communities and world. Almost 4 million people give blood—the gift of life—through the Red Cross, making it the largest supplier of blood and blood products in the United States. The Red Cross helps thousands of U.S. service members separated from their families by military duty stay connected. As part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, a global network of more than 180 national societies, the Red Cross helps restore hope and dignity to the world's most vulnerable people. An average of 91 cents of every dollar the Red Cross spends is invested in humanitarian services and programs. The Red Cross is not a government agency; it relies on donations of time, money, and blood to do its work.