American Red Cross Lends Useful Tips for Disaster Prep

BROKEN BOW – September is National Disaster Preparedness Month, and between the threats of floods, fires, and the oncoming hurricane season in some parts of the country, knowing what to do and where to turn now could save Custer County residents’ lives, not to mention a headache or two.

For the American Red Cross, however, disaster preparedness goes far beyond the 9th month of the year. Josh Murray, Regional Communications Director for the organization and professional preparer, reminds residents that there are always things to do to make handling a disaster far less stressful.

“The first tip,” Murray says, “Is to have an emergency kit. Have something with bottles of water, gallons of water and a place with non-perishable food.”

Those piecing together a kit for the first time may also want to consider a flashlight, batteries, a weather radio, and a set of manual tools. In case of a loss of GPS or cellular signal, having several up-to-date maps could be handy, as well. A printable disaster kit checklist can be found here.

Murray says that it is important to keep all disaster prep materials in a safe, concentrated location; a scramble for materials in the midst of a disaster could endanger all involved.

“You should have that in one location where it’s easy to grab in case something happens. We don’t want people in a dangerous situation trying to grab that stuff.”

Murray’s second tip involves creating a preparedness plan for worst-case scenarios. “A plan for everything,” Murray says. “If it’s a fire: do you have an escape plan? We encourage finding two ways out of every room in the house.”

Murray says that practice is a crucial part of an escape plan’s development, particularly with children. “Just like they practice fire drills at school, they should do them at home, too. Practice knowing how to get out, and where to meet up once they’re outside.”

The third tip, Murray says, is to stay informed. “Know what the situation is. If there’s a tornado siren that goes off, listen, and know where to find information.” There are myriad ways for citizens to stay informed about events; one suggestion Murray has is through the Red Cross app. And of course, KCNI/KBBN will play its part in case of emergency. “Know your local radio stations and T.V. stations and get online if you have a computer so you can follow what’s going on.”