The American Red Cross is urging Americans to celebrate National Preparedness Month (September) by getting their households ready for an emergency. The Red Cross says it’s critical to prepare ahead of time and not wait for a disaster to occur.
Fall is the time of year where a multitude of disasters — hurricanes, floods, wildfires and others — can occur, and citizens should have a plan and be ready to evacuate if necessary. There are three keys to getting prepared: having a plan; having a kit; and being informed.
Here are tips that can make a difference during a disaster:
• Leave early enough to avoid being trapped by severe weather.
• Remember, you may have to get out on foot depending on the type of disaster. If you don’t have a car, or can’t use your vehicle, plan on how you will leave the area.
• If you have a car, keep the gas tank full if an evacuation order is possible. Don’t let the tank go below half-full in case gas stations are unable to pump gas.
• Decide where you would go and what route you would take to get there. This could be a motel, the home of a friend or relative a safe distance away, or an evacuation shelter. Download the free Red Cross Emergency App to find shelter information and weather and emergency alerts for more than 35 different situations.
• If you have time, let someone outside of the region know you are evacuating and where you are going. Leave a note saying when you left and where you plan to go.
• Wear sturdy shoes and clothing that provides some protection.
• Be alert for road hazards such as downed trees, flooding, etc. Do not drive onto a flooded road.
• Practice evacuating your home twice a year. Grab your emergency kit and drive your planned evacuation route. Include an alternate route in a different direction in case one is impassible. Make sure you have locations and maps saved on devices such as cellphones and GPS units and on paper.
• Don’t forget your pets. If it’s not safe for you to stay home, it’s not safe for them either. Prepare a phone list of pet-friendly motels and animal shelters located along your evacuation route. Keep in mind only service animals are usually allowed in shelters.