Whether it’s the last-minute run to the store for the glue that will hold a child’s project together or the dozens of bake-sale cupcakes whipped up late at night, parents frequently deal with the unexpected. Being prepared for emergencies—and not just the glue and cupcake variety—is the new golden rule for having a great school year.
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Get a Kit
Most back-to-school shopping lists feature items like pencils, notebooks and folders. This year, make sure you also have items for an emergency preparedness kit.
At a minimum, have the basic supplies listed below. Keep supplies in an easy-to-carry container that you can use at home or take with you in case you must evacuate.
- Water—one gallon per person, per day (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home)
- Food—non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home)
- Battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
- Extra batteries
- First aid kit
- Medications (7-day supply) and medical items
- Multipurpose tool
- Sanitation and personal hygiene items
- Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
- Cell phone with chargers
- Family and emergency contact information
- Extra cash
- Emergency blanket
- Map(s) of the area
Make a Plan
Every family should create and practice an evacuation and communications plan. Each person should know how to reach other family members and where to meet if they can’t return home. You should also designate an out-of-area relative or friend as an emergency contact and make sure all household members know how to contact this person.
To make an evacuation plan, choose two meeting places: one right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency, such as a fire, and another outside your neighborhood in case you cannot return home or are asked to evacuate.
Decide where you would go and what route you would take if you had to evacuate. Make sure to also plan ahead for your pets. Keep a phone list of "pet friendly" motels/hotels and animal shelters that are along your evacuation routes.
Learning the skills you need to respond in an emergency before help arrives is another important key to being prepared. Make sure that at least one member of your household is trained in first aid and CPR and knows how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED).
To learn more and view CPR/AED and first aid demonstrations, visit redcross.org or contact your local Red Cross chapter to register for a class.
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.