It is that time of year again. Seems like it was a short summer and fall, and here we go into winter.
As we move into the winter season, our thoughts turn to outdoor winter activities, holiday shopping and family travel. However, the approach of winter also should signal a time to get ready.
“Ready for what,” you ask? Ready for the problems that winter can bring.
Winter storms are considered to be the “deceptive killers.” Every year, dozens of Americans die from exposure to cold. In addition, there are more vehicle accidents, house fires and heart attacks as people try to cope, or not cope, with the change in seasons.
The American Red Cross has a wealth of information available on its website – redcross.org/prepare – and everyone is encouraged to go there to learn more about being prepared for emergencies and to “Be Red Cross Ready.”
The Red Cross offers a three-step process that will improve your chances for survival in hazardous winter weather conditions.
Get A Kit
Put together a disaster kit that will allow you and those you care about to be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours. A 72-hour kit would include a variety of items that are based on the needs of you, your family and your specific circumstance.
You should have a cache of supplies in your home that can sustain you for five to seven days. You should have a portable 72-hour kit and a smaller survival kit to keep in your car for travel emergencies.
You will need to consider:
The number of people and their ages.
Special needs for medication or transportation.
The distance to community resources, such as emergency medical services, food, fuel and water.
Pets or other animals you are responsible for.
A good, water-tight container that is portable in case an evacuation is needed.
Make A Plan
A good plan is vital to surviving any emergency. It is best to develop a plan for sheltering in place and one for evacuation. Everyone in the household should be familiar with the plan, and it should be reviewed and updated regularly.
You will need to consider:
Activation: Knowing when and how to take action can save precious minutes on any evacuation effort.
Communication: Talk about how you would communicate with each other, where you will meet if separated and who you would contact in an emergency.
Education: Let others, inside and outside the family, know what your plan is and how they would be affected if the plan was activated.
It is crucial that everyone recognize what threats are possible and the best way to learn and respond to a potential threat.
It is important to consider:
The best and most reliable source of information.
Know your neighbors and determine who can help and who might need help.
Get trained and stay proficient in CPR and first aid, and consider getting trained in the proper use of an Automated External Defibrillator (AED).
Check weather forecasts before traveling, and let other people know what route you will travel.
Winter is a wonderful time, and the Red Cross wants you to enjoy the wonderful opportunities in Colorado and to experience a safe Colorado winter. Being Red Cross Ready will go a long way toward making that happen.
While you are on the Red Cross website, take a look at volunteer opportunities in your area. Now is a great time to become a Red Cross volunteer. You will learn new skills, make new friends and feel good inside knowing you are making a difference. Visit www.redcross.org/Colorado to learn more.
Bill Werner is interim executive director of the Southwest Colorado chapter of the American Red Cross. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.