09/16/08 — Red Cross warns residents to be prepared

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Red Cross warns residents to be prepared

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on September 16, 2008 1:37 PM

When Tropical Storm Hanna roared through Wayne County a couple of weeks ago, the local chapter of the American Red Cross was prepared to house people in a shelter if necessary.

That is just one way the organization helps in time of disaster.

During the rest of September, which is National Preparedness Month, the Wayne County Red Cross wants residents to get prepared for more than just weather emergencies. Every day, emergencies arise at home, at work or at school that demand specialized skills to prevent injury or even death.

First aid and CPR courses are being offered to teach people how to respond to injuries and sudden illness.

"If you were at lunch with one of your co-workers and he collapsed with a heart attack, would you know what to do?" asked Tammy Forrester, the unit's blood services and health and safety director.

But since this is hurricane season, most people have weather on their minds. Planning ahead is the key to mineralizing risk during a weather crisis, Mrs. Forrester emphasized. For example, having a disaster kit on hand is critical to being adequately prepared. It should include:

*One gallon of water per person per day for at least three days.

*Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits and vegetables.

*Canned juices, boxed milk and soup.

*Non-perishable, high-energy foods like peanut butter, jelly, crackers, granola bars, trail mix.

*Food for infants, the elderly and those on special diets.

*Hand-cranked or battery-operated radio.

*Flashlight, extra batteries.

*First aid kit, emergency preparedness manual.

*Traveler's checks or cash.

*Manual can opener.

*Pliers, duct tape, shut-off wrench.

*Plastic sheeting.

*Matches in waterproof container.

*Toilet paper, towelettes, hand sanitizer, detergent, personal hygiene items, garbage bags, plastic bucket with tight lid, disinfectant.

*Sturdy shoes, rain gear, hat, gloves, sunglasses, blankets.

*Records such as will, insurance policy, deed, stocks, passport, Social Security card, shot records, bank account and credit card numbers, inventory of household goods, family records.

In the event of a fire at your home, you should have already made an evacuation plan and arranged for a meeting spot for everyone in the house. Once you have come up with your evacuation plan, practice it several times to make sure everyone knows exactly what to do.

The Wayne County chapter has several pamphlets and booklets on what to do during various emergencies. They can be picked up Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the chapter house at 600 N. George St.

Anyone with questions about how to prepare is urged to contact the Red Cross at 735-7201.

The Red Cross also has a Web site with valuable information at www.redcross.org.

She also reminded Wayne residents of the continuing need for blood.

"Like food in your refrigerator, donated blood is a perishable resource and must be replenished regularly," she said. "Since it's almost impossible to predict who will need blood and when, what better way to help someone in need than by donating a pint of blood?

Mrs. Forrestor also noted that people need to remember their pets during a crisis.

"To prevent a potential tragedy, it's important for people who have pets or service animals to make plans for their pets before a disaster strikes," said Mrs. Forrester.

She suggests assembling a portable emergency preparedness kit for your pet. Store the items in a sturdy container that can be carried easily.

Your pet kit should the following items:

*Sturdy leashes, harnesses and/or carriers to transport them safely and ensure they won't run away.

*Three days' worth of water and food along with bowls, litter pan and a manual can opener.

*Medications, medical records, first aid kit, name and number of veterinarian.

*Current photos of your pet in case it gets lost.

*Pet bed and toys, as space permits.

Then make a plan for your pet. Research locations where you could shelter your pet if you need to leave home. Red Cross shelters don't accept pets (only service animals) because of health and safety regulations, according to Mrs. Forrester.

Contact hotels and motels to check their policies on accepting pets. Mrs. Forrester said to also ask if the hotel will wave its "no pet" policy during an emergency.

You should also ask friends, relatives, animal shelters and veterinarians if they provide emergency shelter. Keep a list of pet-friendly places located along your evacuation routes, including phone numbers, with your disaster supplies kit.