Developing an emergency plan is the first step an individual or family can take toward becoming more secure and self-reliant, and Hawaii officials of the American Red Cross urge island residents to take that important first step.
Disasters can strike quickly and often without warning. During September, which is National Preparedness Month, the ARC Hawaii State Chapter encourages all households to get ready for the next emergency or disaster.
“Having a game plan in place is essential for all households so everyone knows what they should do when an emergency occurs,” said Coralie Matayoshi, chief executive officer for the Hawaii State Chapter. “National Preparedness Month is a perfect time for Hawaii residents to create or update their plan.”
Here are some tips to help:
First: Make a plan. It is important that everyone in the household helps put the emergency plan together and knows what they should do if something occurs. Household members may not be together when a disaster happens – during the day many people are at work and school. The plan should include ways to contact one another and two predetermined places to meet – one near the home in case of a sudden emergency like a fire, and one outside the neighborhood in case circumstances prevent people from returning home. People should also identify an emergency contact person from outside the area in case local telephone lines are overloaded or out of service.
Any emergency plan should also include decisions about where family members will go if ordered to evacuate and what route they will take to get there. It’s a good idea to include alternate routes in case roads are closed. If pets are part of the household, make sure to include plans for them such as pet-friendly hotels and animal shelters along the evacuation route.
Check out the Red Cross apps. The Red Cross has free mobile apps that provide information on what to do before, during and after emergencies including developing an emergency plan.
“People can use the ‘Make a Plan’ feature in the apps to create their plan and then share it with their loved ones,” Matayoshi said. “The preloaded content in the apps gives people access to vital information to use during emergencies, even if they can’t connect to the internet.” The apps can be downloaded from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross.
Another step, on the way to getting a household ready, is to build a portable emergency kit. Set it up in a container that is easy to carry, so the family can use it at home or take it with them if asked to evacuate. It should contain a seven-day supply of water (one gallon, per person, per day), nonperishable food, a flashlight, battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra batteries, a first aid kit, a seven-day supply of medications, a multipurpose tool, sanitation and personal hygiene items and copies of important personal documents. The Red Cross also recommends storing at least two week’s worth of emergency supplies at home.
Of utmost importance, as well, is for everyone to stay informed. Learn about what types of disasters are most likely to occur where you live, or where you plan to visit. It is also important to take a First Aid and CPR/AED course — a vital component of disaster preparedness in case emergency help is delayed.
For more information on how to prepare for emergencies, people can visit www.redcross.org/hawaii or contact the Hawaii Red Cross at 808-734-2101, said Cindy Tanaka, communications director for the Hawaii chapter, which is headquartered on Oahu, with satellite offices and operations across the state of Hawaii.