The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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September 9, 2013

September is National Preparedness Month

CLINTON — September is National Preparedness Month and the American Red Cross is teaming up with other local agencies to raise awareness on the importance of having a disaster plan and what steps to take in creating one.

“Things can happen quickly and we may only have minutes to react,” Executive Director of the Gateway Area Chapter and Lincoln Land Branch of the American Red Cross Amber Wood said. “Planning ahead can keep households safe. Having a disaster plan is the best thing.”

National Preparedness Month has been observed since 2004 in accordance with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security. It is designed to inform people of what disasters are most likely to occur in certain locations, and what type of plan should be put into place with what type of disaster.

“Obviously, dangers of a hurricane are not what people should worry about in this location,” Wood said. “But tornadoes, floods and house fires are real dangers around here.”

Different disasters could require different plans, which is one reason the awareness month was created, but plans may also be tailored to specific needs in the household.

The most important aspect though, is for every member of the household to participate in making the emergency plan, so if a disaster should occur, everyone knows what to do.

A disaster plan should always include ways to contact one another and two predetermined locations to meet if something should happen, one near the home and another outside of the neighborhood.

“How the community communicates and how the family reacts to the disaster plan will keep people educated,” Wood said.

But, preparing for a disaster is more than just making a plan. A tangible emergency kit also is a high priority for every household.

Those kits should include a three-day supply of water, one gallon of water per person, per day, a first-aid kit, non-perishable food items, a flashlight, batteries, a seven-day supply of medication and a battery-powered or hand-crank radio among other items. All items should be kept in an easy-to-carry container in case of the need to evacuate.

Some emergency kits can be purchased already put together, but oftentimes it is easier to create one with the specific needs of the household.

Another important tool in preparing for a disaster is being educated on first-aid practices and CPR training.

“The more prepared our community is, the better off we will be in the event of a disaster,” Wood said.

To aid in that preparation, the American Red Cross offers tools and interactive training programs that educate people on how to be ready.

They also work with local businesses in creating a plan, because according to Wood, there is no such thing as being too prepared.

“Preparedness can really come in handy,” Wood said. “This is really a great light to shine on how to be prepared and what kind of disasters could happen in this area.”

For more information on how to prepare a household emergency plan visit redcross.org/prepare. To learn how to prepare a business emergency plan visit readyrating.org.

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