Part of being informed is knowing what kind of emergencies strike where you live. What types of emergencies happen in the St. Louis area? Localize city as needed. Answers include: Chemical Spills/Gas leaks Earthquakes Floods House fires Ice Storms Power Outages Severe Thunderstorms Tornadoes What kind of emergency do you think is the most common? (Answer: House fires)
Preparing for emergencies can be a daunting process. Although many people don’t know how to start, they may have already taken some steps to prepare. You have a Home Preparedness Index in front of you. On the Home Preparedness Index you will find simple actions you can take to help prepare your family for emergencies. Please take a couple of minutes to assess your level of home preparedness before you learn what else you can do to prepare for an emergency.
Is anyone surprised by how prepared you are? Even if you are less prepared than you thought, any action you have taken, large or small, is a great start! We encourage you to continue to prepare, and suggest these three actions: Get a Kit, Make a Plan, Be Informed.
One of the first steps you can take to prepare for emergencies is to compile an emergency preparedness kit for your family. The kit should contain supplies for at least three days. It is also recommended that you should store up to two weeks worth of additional supplies in your home in case you are stuck in your home for an extended period of time. When you are putting together your kit, what are some things you should include? Answers should include: Water. Have at least one gallon per person per day for three days. Food. Pack non-perishable, high-protein items, including energy bars, ready-to-eat soup, peanut butter, etc. Select foods that require no refrigeration, preparation or cooking, and little or no water. Flashlight. Hand-crank and alternative energy options are available. Include extra batteries, if applicable. Radio. Include extra batteries or use a hand-crank radio. First aid kit. Include a first aid reference guide, as well as supplies. Medications. Don’t forget prescription and non-prescription items. You should have a seven day supply of prescription medication. If it needs to be refrigerated (i.e. insulin) a note can be taped to the top of the kit as a reminder to get it from the refrigerator. Tools. Gather a wrench to turn off gas if necessary, a manual can opener, screwdriver, hammer, pliers, knife, duct tape, plastic sheeting, and garbage bags and ties. Clothing. Provide a change of clothes for everyone, including sturdy shoes and work gloves. Also include seasonal items as needed. Personal items. Eyeglasses, contact lenses and solution, hearing aids and batteries are some examples of personal items. Copies of important papers. Store in a waterproof container like a zip-top bag. Papers include identification cards, insurance policies, birth certificates, passports, etc. Comfort items. Toys, stuffed animals, books, and cards can serve as entertainment. Hygiene supplies. You may need toilet paper, towelettes, feminine supplies, personal hygiene items, bleach, etc. Money. Have cash. ATMs and credit cards won’t work if the power is out. Contact information. Carry a current list of family phone numbers and e-mail addresses, including your out-of-town contact. Pet supplies. For each pet, include food, water, a collar, a leash/cage/carrying case, litter box or plastic bags, tags, any medications and vaccination information. Map. Consider marking an evacuation route from your local area. (Fill in gaps of supplies that are not mentioned, although you don’t need to name every supply-item. Make sure that food, water, radio, flashlight, first aid kit and copies of important papers are mentioned.)
You may already have many of the items for an emergency kit in your home, it’s just a matter of putting them together in a central location. You can store these items together in backpacks, rolling suitcases, plastic tubs, or whatever works best for your family. Some people may prefer to purchase a kit, which you can from the Red Cross. Either way you may still need to gather some items, such as copies of important documents or comfort items. It’s important to remember to check expiration dates on supplies in your kit, and to make sure that you have a three-day supply of what you need. To ensure that nothing goes to waste, remove items like food and water from your supply kit and add them to your everyday supplies.
If there was a tornado right now, who would know how to get in touch with your child, spouse or other loved one? (Take answers.) Most of us would pick up our cell phone and try to call those we care about; however following an emergency, we may not be able to use cell phones. This is why it is important that we determine our emergency communication plan before an emergency strikes. An emergency communication plan can be broken into three main parts: evacuation, meeting places and an out-of-town contact.
It is important that you have an evacuation plan in case you need to evacuate quickly because of fire or other emergency. You should identify two exits in each room of your house-one will most likely be a window. It is also important to designate a meeting place in your neighborhood for your family. This may be the tree in your front yard, your neighbors’ porch, or a mailbox. Once you’ve chosen your meeting place, make sure everyone knows where this place is and practice your evacuation plan. Meeting Places Read: You should also designate a meeting place outside of your neighborhood. You would use this meeting place if you were away from home when an emergency occurred and you were unable to get back. For example, there may be flooding that makes the roads into your neighborhood impassable. Or maybe emergency personnel won’t allow people into your neighborhood out of safety concerns. This meeting place should be a location that everyone in your household is familiar with. It can be a family member’s home, house of worship or other location that would make sense for your household. When deciding on your out-of-neighborhood meeting place, consider where your family members spend large amounts of time, like work, school, and other activities.
As I mentioned earlier, it is important to designate an out-of-town contact. This person would be able to relay messages between those who are in the affected area. Make sure the designated person is someone who is relatively easy to get in touch with. Also, discuss with them their role in your plan. Once you have developed your evacuation and communication plans, your family should practice once every six months and revise as necessary. There have also been many stories about people using text messages and cell phones to get in touch with family and friends following an emergency. While this may be a good way to reach people, it is still very important to make sure that you have the other parts of your communication plan in place.
What are some ways in which you may be notified if there is an emergency? Answers may include: Local television/Radio Sirens (note that they are primarily for outside use) NOAA Weather Radios Friends/relatives may call Make sure you know how you would be notified if there was an emergency in your community, and consider getting a NOAA Weather Radio. (NOAA Weather Radios will sound an alarm when there is a weather watch or warning and feature a battery back-up if the power goes out.)
It’s important to make sure you have smoke detectors installed in every level of your home, and especially near bedrooms. Make sure to test the smoke detectors once a month and replace the batteries at least once a year. We recommend that you change the batteries at daylight savings time as an easy way to remember. Another important part of getting a plan is learning how to use a fire extinguisher and how to shut off utilities. A fire extinguisher is a valuable tool for a minor fire; however, if you don’t know how to use it properly, a fire extinguisher can cause harm to the individual using it. In addition you should learn where the shut-offs are for your utilities are. Make sure you include a wrench in your emergency supply kit so you can shut off your gas following an emergency if there is a gas leak. Authorities may also instruct you to shut off gas. You should note that after the gas is shut off, only the gas company can turn it back on. So it is very important to shut off the gas only if there is a leak or you are instructed to do so.
It is also important to learn CPR and first aid. Following an emergency, police, fire and other emergency personnel may be busy and may not be available to help those with minor injuries. We encourage you to visit www.redcrossstl.org to register for training so you can have the skills you need to help. Thank you for joining us today. For more information about preparing for emergencies, visit the American Red Cross St. Louis Area Chapter www.redcrossstl.org
Read slide. Background Notes: This slide demonstrates the “ don ’ t know if we ’ re prepared ” for a company. Personal stories regarding any of these scenarios or the “ don ’ t knows ” you ’ ve experienced are key in connecting with the audience. Slide Presentation: This slide can be localized for each presentation with city and organization names.
Read slide. Background Notes: These two slides compare the questions “ what if we don ’ t know ” vs “ what if we do know. ” This slide demonstrates the “ do know if we ’ re prepared ” for a company. Personal stories regarding any of these scenarios or the “ do knows ” you ’ ve experienced are key in connecting with the audience. Transition: The Ready Rating Program makes good business sense. Slide Presentation: This slide can be localized for each presentation with company or organization names.
REFERENCE FOCUS ST. LOUIS RECOMMENDATIONS Educate businesses on the need to have disaster plans and business continuity plans in place; ask every major business to commit to promoting individual preparedness education within their company
Transition: In February 2008, the St. Louis Area Chapter launched the pilot. By that summer, St. Louis was asked to start taking the Program nationwide. In July 2009, St. Louis trained eight other chapters to launch Ready Rating in their local markets. Read slide. Transition: As you can see, the Program is gaining momentum at the national level.
Transition: In just two years, Members have shown strides in preparedness. Read slide. Mention that the Program is free, easy and necessary. Transition: The bottom line is that we are more prepared as a community.
Mention when employees know you care about them, and you care about them all the way down to their home life, it changes the environment at work. Mention that when businesses align with the Red Cross, they align with the most trusted brand.
Be Red Cross Ready Metropolitan St. Louis Women’s Council of Realtors January 5, 2012 St. Louis, Missouri
The Red Cross Ready Rating pilot launched in St. Louis in February 2008. St. Louis helped launch the Program in eight additional cities in September 2009. Based on the pilot chapter’s success, the National Red Cross expanded the Program to more than 600 chapters in February 2011.
For an initial investment in time and resources, Members can:
Minimize losses during an emergency. Having an emergency plan in place, allows you to respond more quickly and efficiently to contain costly situations.
Enhance productivity. Helping your employees become aware of the importance of preparing for emergencies at home and knowing the safety plans for their child’s school could help them get back to work more quickly during a disaster.
Maintain – and even improve – your brand. 88% of Americans trust the Red Cross. When you align with Red Cross, you’re aligned with one of the most trusted brands. Plus, organizations that deliver for their community in the face of a disaster earn the respect and loyalty of all.