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Archive for August, 2011

Thinking About Disasters

August 21st, 2011 at 01:55 pm

When dh and I moved to ID in May 2010 we applied and were accepted as Red Cross volunteers. We completed the required training and are now members of the Disaster Action Team (DAT). We are on call several weeks during year, with the dates aligned to fit our travel schedule. This week, even though we are not on call, we were asked to assist with emergency services in two local communities after house fires. It seems the people "on call" were not available but fortunately we were able to step in.

After an emergency, such as a fire or flood, the Red Cross typically provides 3 nights in a hotel for the displaced family, plus money for clothes/shoes and food allowance for a week. It's not a huge sum, but for families that have lost everything, it makes a difference and is much appreciated. The Red Cross also helps procure medication lost in the fire and puts families in touch with community-based resources to help them rebuild their lives (e.g., counseling, housing, etc.). The Red Cross aid must be requested within three days of the incident.

The cause of one fire was electrical and the other was accidentally started while filling a gas generator in the garage. In both cases, the homes were destroyed and 11 people were left homeless. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured but the experience made me think about the importance of having:

~ an emergency evacuation plan for the family;
~ a plan for temporary/emergency shelter for family pets (one family had two 100 lb. dogs and no hotel was willing to take them);
~ a list of medications for everyone in the household;
~ a list of important phone numbers such as insurance, credit cards, etc. (I periodically email my list to myself so I can access it from anywhere).