Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Red Cross: Plan for emergencies during Nat’l Preparedness Month

NEW HANOVER COUNTY — It’s the nature of emergency to be caught off guard, but we don’t have to be helpless.

The positions of Tropical Storm Leslie and Hurricane Michael as of 2 p.m. September 10. Neither storm was projected to hit the Carolinas. (Port City Daily/ NOAA)
The positions of Tropical Storm Leslie and Hurricane Michael as of 2 p.m. September 10. Neither storm was projected to hit the Carolinas. (Port City Daily/ NOAA)

That’s the message from the American Red Cross, which through September is spreading awareness of National Preparedness Month. The gist is this: Have a plan. It can save lives.

“Disasters can strike at any time and being prepared is a family’s best defense,” said David Garrison, Regional Emergency Services Director for the Red Cross’s Eastern North Carolina district. “Making a plan is an important step in making sure all household members know what to do in an emergency.”

A household’s best plan will include a designated meeting place outside the home in event of a fire or other emergency, a Red Cross press release said Monday. It also advised that families or households have an out-of-area emergency contact person and a place that family members know to go in case they can’t immediately return home.

“All members of the household should work together on the emergency plan and each person should know how to reach other family members,” the Red Cross said.

The advice comes during the height of Atlantic hurricane season, for which the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) earlier this year issued a prediction of near- or above-normal activity. NOAA estimated a 70-percent probability of 12-17 named storms, five to eight of which would be hurricanes, and as many as three of which would be a Category 3 or stronger. The predictions do not cover landfall potential.

With Hurricane Michael churning out Category 1 winds in the Atlantic as of Monday afternoon, the season has seen its 13th named storm. It was not, however, on track toward the United States’ East Coast.

The Red Cross, a not-for-profit organization fueled by volunteer support, has availed several tools to help with preparedness. Among them is its downloadable “Family Disaster Plan” template, a simple fill-in-the-blanks form that addresses questions such as, “What are the escape routes from our home?”

Android phone and iPhone users can download the American Red Cross Hurricane app, which issues alerts, finds nearby emergency shelters and can help with the creation of plans that can be shared with family or household members over social networking sites.

Planning during National Preparedness Month also comes with an incentive: The Red Cross says it will sponsor a drawing for an iPad. Details are available here.

“Everyone must be prepared to take care of themselves and their neighbors in an emergency,” Garrison said in Monday’s press release. “No one can predict where or when disasters will strike, but preparedness steps taken today can save lives tomorrow.”

More information on emergency planning is available at http://www.redcross.org.

The Ready North Carolina campaign has also availed extensive planning know-how for a variety of emergencies and disasters at http://readync.org.

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