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Red Cross urges people to make disaster kits

September 17, 2002|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

Following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the idea of being prepared for emergencies - big or small - has never seemed more important, according to the Red Cross.

"The Washington County Chapter of the American Red Cross is suggesting that families prepare an emergency disaster supplies kit," said Cindy Kline, director of disaster services.

Not a new idea with the American Red Cross, the push has been on since last Wednesday, when President Bush approved raising the level of civilian alert from code yellow to code orange - the highest level imposed since the alert system was established in March.

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Only red alert is higher.

The reason for going from "significant risk" to "high danger" is that U.S. intelligence has concluded that the days around the Sept. 11 anniversary seemed a likely time for strikes against the United States.

Kline said brochures are available at the chapter office at 113 S. Prospect St. for people wishing more information on preparedness for disasters of all kinds.

The six basics for a home disaster kit are water, food, first aid supplies, clothing and bedding, tools and special items. Possible containers could be a large covered trash container, a camping backpack or a duffel bag.

Little things like toilet paper, fresh batteries or even safety pins could take on significance in certain situations, the Red Cross suggests.

A smaller version of a home disaster kit should be kept in the family car, with care taken to rotate the nonperishable food, batteries and water supplies every six months, the Red Cross suggests.

Families with special needs, such as infants, the disabled or older members, need to store items necessary for them. And don't forget pets.

Local situations such as train wrecks, fuel spills, hazardous fumes, floods, loss of utilities or other scenarios may force people to leave their homes at a moment's notice.

Kline said families should discuss communication plans should there be a disaster and family members get separated.

"We learned from 9/11 that communication is everything," Kline said. "And the same is true whether the disaster is large or small."

She said one family member who doesn't live with the core family should be designated the person to be contacted by each family member in an emergency, like Uncle Joe in California.

"E-mail is terrific in emergency situations," Kline said.

For more information on home/car emergency kits, call 301-739-0717.

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