Since 9/11, the Red Cross has promoted disaster planning with a “National Preparedness Month” campaign each September. “Everybody should have a plan in place,” says Abigail Adams, communications director for the Westchester Chapter of the Red Cross. Really? In Westchester? “Frankly, Westchester is in a pretty high-risk area,” she says. What the Red Cross advises you do before the Next Big One:
1. Build a “go bag” that you can easily take with you in an emergency evacuation. “It should contain copies of the most important documents to put your life back together, and about three days’ worth of extra medications, food, bottled water, a flashlight, radio, thermal blanket, and some cash in small denominations,” plus provisions for your pets—a leash, food, etc. Do leave the TV at home.
2. Make a plan. Designate a meeting spot for everyone in your family to rendezvous in an emergency (Blue Hill is not an option!) and designate an out-of-state friend or relative to relay messages and coordinate communication among you in case local lines of communication fail. “If you think back to nine eleven, it was impossible to call other numbers within Manhattan because all the local circuits were overloaded, but you could still place calls elsewhere outside of the city.”
3. Stay informed. “Know your company’s contingency plans for an emergency, know your kids’ school emergency plans, know local evacuation routes, and even the emergency exits in your office. In a crisis situation, you don’t want to end up being another casualty and becoming part of the problem.”
If you’re still quivering, visit westchestercounty.redcross.org for more advice.