Red Cross wants West Virginians to be prepared for disasters

The Free Press WV

September is National Preparedness Month, and the American Red Cross West Virginia Region is urging West Virginians to create evacuation plans and preparedness kits before disaster strikes.

“Certainly, we wish for the best with our weather with our potentials for disaster,” said Erica Mani, the regional chief executive officer with the American Red Cross. “The best way to make sure you are going to come through any disaster more comfortably is to make sure you do have that preparedness kit in place, and certainly knowing what to do.”

Mani said families and communities should develop evacuation plans. Residents should know local evacuation routes ahead of when such order is called, as well as the location of nearby shelters.

“I know many among us really don’t take the time to sit down with our families and talk about a drill for a disaster,” she said. “A lot of families do smoke alarms and fire drills in their homes, and we’re thrilled to see that. We’ve been promoting that for years. But we would like to see people also doing that kind of drill for an evacuation or other types of disasters that may strike.”

The American Red Cross also encourages the development of emergency preparedness kits, which should include a gallon of water per household resident per day, non-perishable foods, a flashlight, a radio, extra batteries, personal hygiene items, copies of important documents, extra money and medical supplies.

Mani said it is better to prepare for a disaster that doesn’t happen rather than be clueless when disaster strikes.

“Sometimes, it just takes one conversation to change someone’s behavior for planning for a disaster,” she said. “That could make all the difference.”

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