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Local Red Cross offers free virtual courses, resources to help families get prepared

Right now, California is experiencing devastating wildfires, which have displaced thousands from their homes. Orange County is no stranger to wildfires and other emergencies. The local Red Cross responds to hundreds of disasters each year, making sure those affected have a safe place to stay, food to eat and tools to help them recover. Right now, the American Red Cross of Orange County urges everyone to get ready for disasters by making preparedness a priority this September during National Preparedness Month.

Earthquakes, wildfires, floods and other emergencies – it’s not if they will strike, but when. Helping people prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters has been at the heart of the Red Cross mission since its founding.

“Disasters can happen anywhere, anytime. We urge people to prepare now and be ready if an emergency occurs in their home or in our local community,” said Becky Firey, Executive Director of the Red Cross of Orange County. “Helping people during disasters is what we do, but we need your help, too. Help keep your loved ones safe — get Red Cross Ready today.”

Free Virtual Preparedness Courses

The Red Cross Southern California Region is offering two free virtual preparedness courses this month to help community members learn more about wildfire and home fire preparedness. These hour-long courses will be led by local disaster preparedness experts and will include tips on how to prepare for wildfires and home fires, what to do during a wildfire or home fire, and more.

  • Wednesday, September 8, 6:30 p.m. -7:30 p.m. – Wildfire Preparedness – Click Here to Join
  • Wednesday, September 29, 6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. – Home Fire Preparedness – Click Here to Join

You can also visit redcross.org/prepare for free resources and downloadable preparedness checklists, and more. Or, download the free Red Cross Emergency App to put preparedness in the palm of your hand.

How to Get Prepared

Help keep your family safe by taking three actions to: 1) Get a Kit. 2) Make a Plan. 3) Be Informed.

  1. First, build your emergency kit with a gallon of water per person, per day, non-perishable food, a flashlight, battery-powered radio, first aid kit, medications, supplies for infants or pets, a multi-purpose tool, personal hygiene items, copies of important papers, cell phone chargers, blankets, maps of the area and emergency contact information.
  2. Next, plan what to do in case you are separated from your family during an emergency and what to do if you have to evacuate. Coordinate your plan with your child’s school, your work and your community’s emergency plans. Don’t forget to include your pets. Remember, if you and your family need to evacuate, so does your pet. Know in advance which pet-friendly hotels are in your area, and where your pets can stay in an emergency situation.
  3. Finally, plan to stay informed by finding out how local officials will contact you during a disaster and how you will get important information, such as evacuation orders.

Additional Concerns

Being prepared is important for everyone. Depending on your household’s needs, there might be additional considerations to take into account as part of your emergency planning.

For example, older adults or people with mobility, hearing, learning or seeing disabilities may need to create a support network of people that can help during an emergency. The Red Cross recommends creating a plan that considers each person’s capabilities, any help they may need and who can provide it. This is especially important if evacuations are called for or if the power goes out for several days.

Disasters can be scary for children. It’s important to talk with your kids about preparing for common emergencies, how to stay safe and what to expect before a disaster happens. The Red Cross has free programs and tools to help, visit redcross.org/youthprep for more information.

Help Your Community

National Preparedness Month is also a good time to take steps to help your community get prepared for emergencies of all sizes. By volunteering, donating blood or learning lifesaving skills, you can be ready to help your loved ones and neighbors when needed. Visit redcross.org to learn more.

Red Cross volunteers play several critical roles in their local communities, including providing aid after disasters and educating people about how to be prepared for emergencies. People can also support local military members, veterans and their families, or volunteer as a blood donor ambassador or a blood transportation specialist to be the critical link between blood donors and recipients. Volunteers are urgently needed in Orange County ahead of a busy wildfire and disaster season. Disaster volunteers, shelter workers, health services volunteers and others are especially needed, and all training is provided. The Red Cross is also in need of bilingual volunteers. To learn more, visit redcross.org/volunteertoday.

Blood can take up to three days to be tested, processed and made available for patients, so it’s the blood already on the shelves that helps to save lives in an emergency. To help prepare your community, make an appointment to donate blood or platelets and help save lives. Eligible individuals are encouraged to schedule a blood or platelet donation appointment by using the Red Cross Blood Donor app, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 800-RED-CROSS (800-733-2767).

Learn lifesaving skills so you can help people in a crisis until medical professionals arrive. Sign up for a first aid,
CPR or other classes, available online or in-person.

For more information about the American Red Cross Southern California Region, which serves San Diego, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Imperial Counties, please visit redcross.org/SoCal.

This article was released by the American Red Cross Southern California Region.