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Healthline Connects
Healthline Connects

May 8 is World Red Cross Red Crescent Day: Are You Prepared?

This weekend as we witnessed another natural catastrophe obliterate a community on our continent, I realized my Disaster Planning just isn't good enough. I imagine many of us are in the same boat. Living in the Bay Area, I have an earthquake kit with 5 gallons of water. I have medical emergency and food supply kits in the house and car for myself and family. The Red Cross is there for everybody, but in recent years natural disasters have clearly escalated to natural catastrophes and we each have to be ready to fend for ourselves and those who are dependent upon us for up to five days.

The Red Cross advises:
  1. Make a Plan
  2. Make a Kit
  3. Stay Informed

In addition to having emergency supplies, the Red Cross recommends each family have a Communications Plan. Communications, like cell phones, are usually disrupted during natural disasters and emergencies. Do your children know what family in the community they are supposed to stay with until you can get to them? If a loved one is in a residential center, do you know the evacuation plan for that center? Is it adequate for the frailest members of the community? Select an out-of-state person to be a contact because the Red Cross advises it is sometimes easier to make long distance calls.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is preparing for a response in case of an Influenza Pandemic. The CDC emphasizes the most important advice during outbreak of any disease which can be transmitted human-to-human is to avoid contact with infected persons. While the natural response is to buy and wear masks, there is no scientific proof to support the practice. The best practice is to avoid crowds, i.e. Shelter in Place. It is not a bad idea to equip your self and family with both masks and respirators, however. Masks are the usual surgical masks worn in clinical settings. A respirator is a filtering facepiece designed to protect against inhalation of very small particles. Neither device provides complete protection from the flu.

Finally, a note for women. Have a pair of steel toed or water proof hiking boots in your car and at work in case of the need for evacuation. Women's lives are lost in disasters due to clothing and foot wear that is inadequate for emergencies. As a dear, wise friend of mine advised me, "Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst." This weekend, I looked around and realized I had never imagined a worst case scenario involving the entire town I live in flattened by wind. Every year I need to readjust my thinking about just what the worst case scenario is.

Thank you for use of 1981 NOAA photo.
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