Taking The Chaos Out Of Emergencies

This week we have a special treat for you.  Kathryn Bluher, AmeriCorps Communications Coordinator of Seattle’s Branch of the American Red Cross, is our guest blogger.  Seattle’s Red Cross branch serves King & Kitsap Counties, which is an enormous area for a state that is not unused to natural disasters. 
We asked Kathryn to share what she and her colleagues do for the people of Washington state as well as a few tips and bits of advice.  Kathryn doesn’t disappoint. 
Check out Seattle Red Cross’ web site and Facebook page at the end of this article for some terrific resources.
Thanks Kathryn!

Taking The Chaos Out Of Emergencies

The American Red Cross Serving King & Kitsap Counties is dedicated to preparedness. Our goal is to prepare our community, friends, family and peers for disasters. Specifically, here in the Pacific Northwest because disasters are continually knocking at our door – windstorms, earthquakes, floods, snowstorms and volcanoes are just some of the potentially devastating natural disasters we face. What’s worse is that there is nothing predictable about a large-scale disaster, and that’s why we want you to be ready.  It’s never if a disaster will strike; it’s when.
We know, at times it may seem like our job is shrouded in the fear of imminent disaster, but we love what we do. The topics we discuss are serious but preparedness can be fun, lots of fun. We don’t want preparing for disasters to be overwhelming. We want it to be easy for you and your family.
So, how do we better prepare our community?
The Red Cross tries to reach individuals from all walks of life. Our main focus is to educate at-risk populations, but each program and service we offer is fine-tuned to meet each individual’s needs. We want everyone to be prepared, which is why we help educate children, teenagers, seniors, community groups, businesses and nonprofits.
For our preparedness experts in training, elementary through middle school kids, we have developed a program that fits their needs and attention spans. We play games to help the students identify potential disasters, help them build emergency kits, make a plan and even teach basic first aid. For high school students we give presentations that intertwine disaster preparedness knowledge and pop culture. It may seem strange that we talk to students about a zombie apocalypse, but high school-aged students really get into the subject matter. We’ve essentially taken their interests and added a disaster preparedness twist. We want youth to be excited about preparedness and build on that excitement throughout their lives.
Even if you’re out of school we still want to educate you. We help prepare community groups, nonprofits and organizations for disasters through comprehensive classes and awareness campaigns. We’ve even established a Ready Rating program to help organizations better prepare for emergencies. We often go out into the community to give presentations on preparedness, earthquake preparedness, pandemic flu, how to use 9-1-1, how to build a kit, make a plan, stay informed and much more. But if we can’t make it out to your organization, we have www.readyrating.org at your disposal. Most businesses don’t realize that after a disaster strikes, up to 40% never re-open. We want to lessen that percentage, because a disaster shouldn’t close your businesses doors for good.  We can be your expert preparedness partner and help you prepare for nearly anything that comes your way.
That’s not all we do though. We’ve also embraced technology quite a bit when it comes to disaster preparedness. When disasters strike things can get a little chaotic, so we’ve developed applications and systems to help you through that chaos. If you need to find a shelter we have an app for that, if you need safety tips before, during or after a disaster you can follow us on Twitter or Facebook. We want to be both a personal resource and technological resource for you and your family. Disaster preparedness and the way we respond to disasters will continue to change as technology changes; it’s our job to stay up to date with that trend.
So, whether it’s preparing for the “big one” or updating your emergency kit, we’re here for you. Just remember, make a kit, build a plan and be informed. If you have questions, just ask us. Find us on Facebook and chat with us there! Learn more about what we do and ways in which you can get involved by visiting our website at www.seattleredcross.org.
Have Fun Getting Your Stuff Together! We’ll talk later…
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