Hurricane Dolly is taking a toll on South Texas, reminding Americans across the nation need to be ready in case of a disaster. Fewer than expected U.S. landfalls over the past two years may have lulled some people into a false sense of security, but we know being prepared can save lives and property during a disaster. The American Red Cross urges everyone to dust off their disaster supplies kit and get better prepared now for a variety of disasters, such as hurricanes and the high winds, flooding and tornadoes that may accompany them.
"Hurricanes have made it as far inland as Charlotte in the past, so we always need to be prepared," said Rick Schou, operations manager for the Greater Carolinas Chapter Emergency Services Response and Recovery. "In addition, we had severe weather this week where lightning caused damage to a half-dozen homes and trees fell on two others. Whether your home is affected by a large hurricane, fire or some other local event, please follow the guidelines provided by the American Red Cross to protect yourself and your family."
The American Red Cross recommends the following preparedness actions:
Get or assemble a disaster supplies kit:
Gather enough emergency supplies to meet your needs. A portable kit, stored in a sturdy, easy to carry, water resistant container should have enough supplies for three days. The Red Cross also recommends having at least two weeks worth of supplies at home and to keep a smaller kit in the trunk of your car. Check your kit and replace the stock every six months. Whether you purchase a kit or choose to build your own, your three-day kit should include:
- A three-day supply of water (one gallon per person, per day) and ready-to-eat non-perishable foods, such as tuna fish, peanut butter, crackers, canned fruit, juice boxes, etc.
- A manual can opener
- A battery-powered or hand-crank radio, flashlight and plenty of extra batteries
- A first aid kit and reference guide
- Prescription and non-prescription medication items
- Copies of important documents, including birth certificates, insurance policies and social security cards
- Cash -- ATMs and credit cards won't work if the power is out
- Special items for infant, elderly or disabled family members
- A change of clothes for everyone, including long-sleeved shirts, long pants and sturdy footwear
- One blanket or sleeping bag per person
- Emergency tools, including tools to turn off utilities
- An extra set of home and car keys
- An extra pair of glasses or contact lenses, extra batteries for hearing aids
- Pet supplies
Prepare a Personal Disaster and Evacuation Plan
The American Red Cross urges each and every household to develop a household disaster plan.
- Meet with your family to create a plan. Discuss the information you have gathered and why it is important to prepare for a disaster.
- Identify two meeting places; One right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency, like a fire, and one outside your neighborhood in case you can't return home.
- Be sure to make advanced preparations for your pets. Be aware that pets may not be allowed in shelters. Contact hotels, motels, family members and animal shelters to see if they would allow pets in a disaster situation. Keep a contact list of "pet friendly" locations. If you are asked to evacuate, take your pets with you.
- Choose an out-of-area emergency contact person.
- Tell your family about the Safe and Well Web site accessible at all times via www.redcross.org. The Safe and Well Web site is an Internet-based tool that allows those directly affected by a disaster to let their loved ones know of their well-being.
- Show and explain to each family member how and when to turn off the water and electricity at the main switches. Turn gas off only if instructed by local authorities. Remember, if the gas is shut-off, only a professional can turn it back on.
- Plan your evacuation route.