A new year suggests new beginnings and a fresh start. For many, it is a time to make resolutions to stop bad habits while others set goals they wish to achieve in the coming year. The American Red Cross encourages all Americans to resolve to prepare themselves and their loved ones in 2007.
Be Red Cross Ready
Disaster can strike at any time and often without warning. Kick off the new year right by following these three simple steps to get prepared: (1) get or build an emergency supplies kit, (2) make a plan that includes evacuation information and emergency contacts for staying connected with loved ones during a disaster and (3) be informed about the types of disasters that you may face and the best ways to respond to them.
Once you've got the preparedness basics down, the following easy tips help you take another step each month to make yourself and your loved ones even more ready to face life’s emergencies.
JANUARY...National Volunteer Blood Donor month
Every two seconds someone in the United States needs blood but only 5 percent of the eligible population donates regularly. Unfortunately, blood shortages are common during the winter months due to holidays, travel, inclement weather and seasonal colds. January is a difficult month for blood centers to collect blood donations, so this January make an appointment to give blood and resolve to become a regular blood donor.
To learn more about the process and schedule an appointment, visit www.givelife.org or contact your local Red Cross.
FEBRUARY...Learn to save a life with the one you love
Take a CPR class with your Valentine. The hands-on skills training course teaches participants how to respond to breathing and cardiac emergencies in adults. The Red Cross also offers training classes for infant and child CPR as well as a host of courses – including automated external defibrillator (AED) training, first aid and even pet first aid (in select chapters) – that give people the skills to respond to other life-threatening emergencies.
Learn more by visiting the "Health and Safety" section of Redcross.org or contact your local chapter to find a class near you.
MARCH...Red Cross Month
Each year, the President proclaims March as “Red Cross Month” to raise public awareness and encourage support of the organization through donations of time, money and blood. Volunteers comprise 96 percent of the organization's total workforce, making it possible for the Red Cross to respond to countless disasters each year. Consider making a resolution to lend a hand this year and find out how good it feels to wear the Red Cross emblem.
To learn about volunteer opportunities, visit the "Volunteer Services" section of RedCross.org, contact your local chapter or do an online search using VolunteerMatch.
APRIL...Showers bring more than flowers
It is wonderful that April showers bring May flowers, but an unfortunate result of all that spring rain can be floods. Learn the risk of floods and flash floods for your area; know what to expect and how to react. Know the difference between a flood WATCH and flood WARNING. Take time to update your home evacuation plan and spend time discussing it with your household members so that everyone knows what to do if flooding prompts an evacuation. Then, practice evacuating to ensure everything runs smoothly.
For more on flood safety, visit the "Get Prepared" section of RedCross.org.
MAY...Make seasonal updates to your emergency supplies kit
Each season, it is a good idea to review and update your emergency supplies. In spring, warm blankets can be swapped with lighter sheets and bedding and clothing such as sweaters and jeans may be swapped for shorts and t-shirts. Sunscreen and battery insect repellents are great additions to a kit for disasters during the dog days of summer. Refresh your supplies; even items with long shelf lives such as water, batteries and non-perishable foods should be exchanged periodically. Add new food items or prescriptions, if there have been changes in household members' dietary or medical needs.
Visit Redcross.org to learn how to build a supplies kit or buy a kit and find out how to customize kits to meet the unique needs of household members. It is also a great time to review and update your evacuation and communication plans as necessary.
June 24 to 30 is national Lighting Awareness Week. Lightning poses a real threat and is one of summer’s deadliest phenomena. Experts warn that there is no safe place outside during a lightning storm, so take care to find substantial shelter before a storm hits. A shelter that will insulate you from the lightning is generally closed and has some sort of plumbing or wiring throughout, grounding it from top (the roof) to bottom. Spend time explaining to children, who often think nothing of playing outside even in rain and lighting storms, the risks of such weather and instruct them to go inside when it storms.
Learn more about coping with severe summer weather by visiting RedCross.org.
JULY...the heat is on
With summer in full force, much of the country will be dealing with high temperatures and even heat waves. Whether you're staying in or heading out to the pool or beach to keep cool, be prepared to protect yourself and your loved ones from heat-related illnesses. It can be as simple as dressing appropriately for the weather and packing extra water to stave off dehydration. Plan head for summer activities to be sure you have adequate water, can take breaks in a cool, shady place and are able to move indoors if temperatures become dangerously high. If the swimming is your favorite way to cool off, consider taking a Red Cross swimming or lifeguard course to be safe in, on and around the water.
For facts and tips on heat-related illnesses and water safety, visit the "Health and Safety" section of RedCross.org. Learn about Red Cross swimming and lifeguard training online or by contacting your local chapter to find a class near you.
AUGUST...Dealing with brownouts and blackouts
Heat waves, heavy rain, high winds and lightning strikes are a few of the summer weather conditions that can result in damaged power lines or overtaxed power grids, causing temporary power outages. The best way to cope with a summer blackout or brownout is to have a plan in place before the lights go out. Assemble essential supplies such as a flashlight, batteries, battery-operated radio, water and non-perishable foods and keep them in an easily accessible location.
Visit the "Get Prepared" section of Red Cross Web site for more information on blackouts as well as food safety and water treatment during a power outage.
SEPTEMBER...Back to school
Unfortunately disasters don't run on a schedule – they can happen any where, any time. Parents may be at work and children at school when disaster strikes. Start the school year off right – find out about the school's emergency plans, including as how they handle evacuations and what they do in the event a parent cannot be reached. In addition, prepare your children for emergencies by teaching them emergency phone numbers and help them memorize important information such as family names, addresses and phone number(s).
Learn more about helping children prepare for and cope with disasters, visit "Prepare at School" in the "Get Prepared" section of Redcross.org.
OCTOBER...Make fire safety a priority
Home fires kill more Americans each year than all other natural disasters combined. According to a Red Cross poll, four out of five Americans are unaware that home fires are the most common disaster in the country. Change smoke alarm batteries at least twice a year, testing the alarms monthly, and consider buying and keeping one or more working fire extinguishers in your home and contact your local fire department about getting trained in using them.
More information on fire prevention and safety tips can be found in the "Get Prepared" section of Redcross.org.
NOVEMBER...Update supplies for cooler weather
The crisp, cool air and the end of daylight savings time provide the perfect reminder to update emergency supplies for cooler weather. So, get that extra hour of sleep, and then spend time swapping that extra set of summer clothes and light bedding you put in with your emergency supplies in May with warmer blankets and clothing. Be sure to add seasonal items like rain gear, hats, scarves, gloves and sturdy boots. Take time to review your evacuation plan and update emergency contact cards as well.
To learn how to build a supplies kit or buy and customize a kit, visit the "Get Prepared" section of Redcross.org.
DECEMBER...Over the river and through the woods
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and it means more people may be traveling in inclement weather and traversing roads in questionable condition to see loved ones and celebrate the holidays. Plan ahead for holiday travel by preparing an emergency supplies kit for your vehicle, winterizing your vehicle and sharing your travel plans and anticipated arrival times with others so they can locate you if you become stranded on the way.
For more information about preparing for and coping with severe winter weather, visit the "Get Prepared" section of Redcross.org. The Red Cross Web site also provides cold weather safety tips in the "Health and Safety" section.
Resolving to be better prepared and making safety a priority can make for a happy, health and safe year.
The American Red Cross helps people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies. Last year, almost a million volunteers and 35,000 employees helped victims of almost 75,000 disasters; taught lifesaving skills to millions; and helped U.S. service members separated from their families stay connected. Almost 4 million people gave blood through the Red Cross, the largest supplier of blood and blood products in the United States. The American Red Cross is part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. 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.