Weekly Columns

Be "Red Cross Ready"

Senator John Boozman's Column for the Week of March 21, 2011

Mar 21 2011

The tragic earthquake in Japan spotlights just how vulnerable we are to a natural disaster. As our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims, we can’t help but reflect on how a catastrophic event could happen to our communities at any time. Therefore, we must be prepared.

For almost 130 years, the American Red Cross has helped individuals and families prevent, prepare and respond to disasters. In times of need, the Red Cross is often the first aid organization on the scene—even if that involves crossing borders to help. Case in point, the Red Cross immediately sent response teams to the scene to assist the Japanese first responders in the immediate aftermath of the recent quake.

Closer to home, the Red Cross has been there for us in times of need. Just last year, after the tragic floods at the Albert Pike recreation area near Caddo Gap, the Red Cross set up shelters and provided food and other essentials for the victims.

However, it is about more than just responding to tragedies. The Red Cross plays an important role in saving lives before disaster strikes. By encouraging preparedness in our communities, Red Cross branches throughout Arkansas play an important role in keeping us safe.

Because disasters can occur suddenly at any time and any place, I join the Red Cross in urging you to be prepared. There are three keys to being “Red Cross Ready”—get a kit, make a plan and be informed.

Get a kit: At a minimum, have basic supplies together and at hand to evacuate and survive. These include water, non-perishable food, first aid kit, flashlights, battery-charged radio, extra batteries, cell phone with charger and cash, among other items. Ensure everyone in your household knows where to find this kit in the event of an emergency.

Make a plan: In the event you need to evacuate immediately, the Red Cross encourages you to identify two ways to escape from every room in the home, practice your escape plan at least twice a year and select a safe location away from the home where your family can meet after escaping.

Be Informed: Know what actions to take to protect yourself and your family from the various disasters that could strike your community—tornados, flood, earthquakes or terror attacks to name a few. Identify how local authorities will notify you and know the differences between various weather alerts.

These steps could be the keys to saving your life and the lives of your family members during an emergency.

Since 1943, the President of the United States has proclaimed March as “Red Cross Month.” The tragic events in Japan are a shocking reminder of how important groups like the Red Cross are. Please visit www.redcross.org for more information on how to be prepared should disaster strike your community.