As we approach peak hurricane season on the heels of a national survey that revealed only seven percent of Americans have taken the recommended actions to prepare for disasters, the American Red Cross joins a nationwide effort to help communities get prepared during National Preparedness Month. Red Cross chapters across the country will conduct activities and outreach to help individuals, families, schools and businesses take action to "Be Red Cross Ready" for all types of disasters and emergencies by: 1) getting a kit, 2) making a plan, and 3) being informed.

"The American Red Cross will always be there to provide relief in times of disasters, but we're also in communities everyday teaching people the skills they need to prepare for and keep their families safer in a disaster or emergency," said Mark Everson, President and CEO, "As the nation's partner in preparedness, we are taking this opportunity to help move the entire nation towards a greater state of preparedness."

To keep preparedness on the forefront of people's thoughts and daily activities throughout the month, the American Red Cross will release new preparedness materials that correspond to four weekly themes; Back to School, Business, Multicultural and Family Preparedness. These include:

1.      A new Masters of Disaster disaster preparedness curriculum in customized formats for both families and educators that teaches children how to prevent, prepare for and respond to disasters and other emergencies;

2.      The results of a recent survey on small business preparedness;

3.      New disaster emergency preparedness brochures in Korean, Chinese, Spanish and Vietnamese;

4.      A revised brochure, Disaster Preparedness For Seniors By Seniors; and the second volume of the Be Red Cross Ready Safety Series: Dog First Aid.

In addition, the public is invited to visit a free online education module available at www.redcross.org/BeRedCrossReady that walks visitors through three simple actions to "Be Red Cross Ready" for a disaster: 1) get a kit, 2) make a plan 3) be informed. The "Be Red Cross Ready" actions, also available in podcast format, offer a basic preparedness strategy everyone can follow to respond to a variety of disasters and emergencies. The American Red Cross recommends;

1.      Families assemble or buy a disaster supplies kit containing at least three days of provisions in an easy-to-carry container, like a backpack. It's also important to check that stock every six months and replace expired items.

2.      As part of your family communications plan, each person should know how to reach family members, including an out-of-area contact, and where to meet if they can't go home.

3.      Families should learn about what resources are available to them and what types of disasters are most likely to occur where they live, work and play, and take first aid and CPR courses-a vital component of disaster preparedness.

"Preparing ahead of time will help you respond better in a disaster or emergency, and may even save your life," said Darlene Sparks Washington, Director of Preparedness, "We want everyone to have the confidence and benefits that come with being prepared, so we've tried to make it as simple as possible for everyone to take action."

To help people prepare their homes and workplaces, and to kick off National Preparedness Month 2007, visitors to the Red Cross online store (www.redcross.org/store) will receive a 10% discount on their total purchase from September 1-8. Red Cross preparedness products are also offered at a variety of retail locations across the country.

National Preparedness Month is a coordinated, nationwide effort sponsored each September by the Department of Homeland Security to raise awareness about the importance of emergency preparedness and encourage individuals to take action. The American Red Cross has participated in National Preparedness Month efforts from its inception.

The American Red Cross and Harris Interactive conducted the online survey of more than 2,500 respondents from April 10-16, 2007. Results also found that sixty-nine percent of Americans living in hurricane-prone states don't have a disaster supplies kit, and 60% don't have an evacuation plan.

For more information, including downloadable resources, regarding how individuals and families can prepare for disasters visit www.redcross.org/BeRedCrossReady or contact your local Red Cross chapter.