Editorial: Get ready for emergencies
Disasters can strike quickly and often without warning. Wisconsin Emergency Management and the American Red Cross of Western Wisconsin encourage individuals, families, households, businesses and communities to get ready for anything unexpected.
Preparing can start with three important steps: make a plan for what to do in an emergency; get an emergency supply kit; and be informed about emergencies that could happen in the community.
In making a plan, it’s important everyone helps puts the emergency plan together and knows what they should do if something occurs. Not all will necessarily be together when a disaster happens. The plan should include ways to contact one another and two predetermined places to meet—one near home base in case of a sudden emergency like a fire, and one outside the neighborhood in case circumstances prevent people from returning. People should also identify an emergency contact person from outside the area in case local phone lines are overloaded or out of service.
Any emergency plan should also include decisions about where the people involved will go if ordered to evacuate and what route they’ll take to get there. It’s a good idea to include alternate routes in case roads are closed. If pets are a consideration, make sure to include plans for them such as pet-friendly hotels and animal shelters along the evacuation route.
Another step to get ready is to build an emergency kit in a container that’s easy to carry so a family can use it at home or take it with them if asked to evacuate. It should contain a three-day supply of water (one gallon, per person, per day), nonperishable food, a flashlight, battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra batteries, a first aid kit, a seven-day supply of medications, a multi-purpose tool, sanitation and personal hygiene items, and copies of important personal documents. It’s also recommended to have at least two weeks’ worth of emergency supplies at home.
Everyone also needs to stay informed about what types of disasters are most likely to occur where they live or where they plan to visit. It’s also important to take a first aid and CPR/AED course—a vital component of disaster preparedness in case emergency help is delayed.
Another way people can help ensure their community is ready for disaster is to give blood. When an emergency occurs, it is the blood already on the shelves that’s available to help patients who need it. Thousands of blood donations are needed every day for patients who need blood to help in their battle back to health. If someone would like to give blood, they must be at least 17-years-old, meet weight and height requirements, and be in general good health. Donors should bring their Red Cross blood donor card or other form of positive ID with them. Some states, including Wisconsin, allow 16-year-olds to give with parental consent.
The state’s emergency management Ready Wisconsin campaign has Facebook and Twitter feeds, and information about Wireless Emergency Alerts going straight to one’s cellphone. Red Cross has free mobile apps providing information on what to do before, during and after emergencies, including developing an emergency plan. The apps can be downloaded from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross.
For more information, go to http://readywisconsin.wi.gov or visit redcross.org.