By Paula Montgomery, Executive Director, American Red Cross Rhode Island Chapter
While we all look forward to the holiday weekend, Tropical Storm Arthur has formed in the Atlantic off the coast of Florida, becoming the first named storm of Hurricane season. Although the storm is not forecast to bring hurricane conditions our area, Arthur is a reminder that we are vulnerable to hurricanes and severe weather here in New England. So, while we may have a slightly wet Fourth of July, consider this an opportunity to check your readiness without the pressure of an impending storm.
You don’t have to think too far back to remember some major storms in our area. From the February 2013 blizzard, to Hurricane Sandy, the October snowstorm of 2011 and Hurricane Irene, we have seen weather disrupt our daily lives and cause serious property damage.
Some of these storms brought storm surges to coastal areas or downed trees. In several cases, prolonged power outages affected many communities. So take a few minutes to think about the impacts you faced at home or at work and consider how you can make yourself more resilient in the face of future storms.
Planning now will help you better cope with emergencies. The American Red Cross has information and tools to help you prepare. Most tasks are simple and can be broken down into smaller steps that won’t be a burden. Start with the three most basic building blocks – a kit, a plan and knowledge about the risks in your community:
- Create an emergency preparedness kit with food and water, and other basic supplies for each family member to last at least three days. Remember to include essential medications, copies of important documents and special items for children and pets.
- Plan what to do in case you are separated from your family during an emergency and what to do if you have to evacuate. Coordinate with your child’s school, your work and community’s emergency plans.
- Be informed about what disasters or emergencies may occur where you live, work, play and pray, and how to respond as safely as possible. Find out how local officials will contact you during a disaster and how you will get important information.
To help you through those three steps, here are some resources:
- Download any of the Red Cross free disaster-specific mobile apps—particularly the Hurricane and First Aid apps—to get lifesaving preparedness information in the palm of your hand before and during emergencies. Red Cross apps can be found in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross or by going to redcross.org/mobileapps.
- Visit the Preparedness section of redcross.org for life-saving information, tools and tips to help you prepare for emergencies.
- Get free checklists and downloadable tips at redcross.org/preparednessfastfacts.
- Use the Red Cross Ready Rating™ Program (readyrating.org). It’s a free, web-based program designed to help businesses, organizations and schools to become better prepared. Members complete a self assessment of their current readiness level and receive immediate, customized feedback with resources to improve preparedness. First Aid Emergency Drills help businesses train their staff for emergencies and disasters.
Preparation is the best protection against the dangers of a hurricane or other disaster. A few simple steps now will pay big dividends when the next storm hits.