Yenrick: Prepare for a safe winter seasonWritten by Guest Author | | GuestAuthor@toledofreepress.com
Our volunteers at the American Red Cross of Northwest Ohio respond to local disasters every single day.
We’ve seen the heartache families face when flash floods rise and all of their belongings are covered in mud and mold. We’ve helped neighborhoods pick up the pieces after tornadoes swept through and leveled their homes. We’ve watched first responders pull people, even children, from burning homes. We’ve seen the anguish of lives lost too soon. It’s because of these things that we urge you to be prepared for disasters.
The biggest threat to local families every day isn’t floods or tornadoes; it’s fire. Last year, we at the Red Cross responded to more than 600 of them in our community. Most happen during the fall and winter months when the weather turns cold and the heat comes on. They usually take place in the middle of the night, too — because of a cooking accident, forgotten fireplace embers or an overturned space heater.
We urge you to Be Red Cross Ready. The motto we like to use is, “Get a Kit, Make a Plan, and Be Informed.”
Get a kit means creating a disaster kit specific to your needs. Pack nonperishable food and water, flashlights, blankets, maps of the area, a change of clothing, a first aid kit and more. Visit arcbrcr.org to enter your family’s information and find out just how much of everything you need.
Make a plan means having a disaster preparedness plan. Meet with everyone in the house and identify responsibilities for each person. Decide what to do if you’re separated during a disaster or evacuated.
Be informed means having the knowledge and training to react appropriately. Take CPR and first aid training so you can help save a life. Have emergency contact cards for everyone in your family and keep them in your car. Download one of our free smartphone apps to learn more.
Before I became involved with the Red Cross, I never gave a second thought to being prepared. I thought disasters would never happen to me. And if they did, I would be OK. I never realized how important it is to get a kit, make a plan and be informed. For example, having copies of your birth certificate, deed and Social Security cards is crucial to receiving assistance after a fire. If you don’t have these things, it can delay the process for days, weeks or even months. There are some really smart things, too — like having extra medication, pairs of eyeglasses and food you can prepare without heating it up. I didn’t think of these things before, but now I do.
On behalf of the Red Cross, we wish you a safe winter season.
Tim Yenrick is regional CEO of the American Red Cross of Northwest Ohio.