April is Pet First Aid Awareness Month

Gosh, that’s a mouthful! But as a dog owner and general animal lover, this topic is very important to me (even if they slobber all over your keyboard while you’re trying to write a blog post). Though we’re nearing the end of April, it’s never too late to prepare for our four-legged family members.

Did you know that, along with our courses in CPR, First Aid, lifeguarding, and babysitting, the American Red Cross offers Pet First Aid? In fact, it’s one of the more popular classes in Orange County (I like to think it’s because we’re so pet-friendly). You can even order the companion book complete with DVD for cats or dogs.

It’s also very important to know how to help our pets during a disaster. Beforehand, while you’re putting together your emergency kit, make one for your pet as well. Include things like a pet first aid kit, medications and medical records (including vaccinations), and pet supplies (leashes, carriers, food, etc.). We even have this handy checklist to help you. And you can visit the Pet and Disaster Safety section of our website for more info.

But what about our other furry/feathered/scaly/shelled friends? I wouldn’t want to leave my horse/parrot/lizard/turtle out in the cold. Visit the Humane Society website for disaster preparedness resources for other animals and take their quiz to find out if you’re ready. While you’re at it, stop by our buddies at RedCrossDog or follow them on Twitter for great tips on how to prepare for and respond to pet emergencies.

When planning for disasters, remember: pets are people, too!


There’s an app for that!

I don’t know about you, but I’m addicted to my iPhone. Sometimes I think it’s glued to my hand. If you’re anything like me, then you love apps. I’m going to share some great apps for various smartphones that keep preparedness at your fingertips and can help you find information during an emergency. Best of all, they’re free to download!

Before I delve into the wonderful world of apps, I would like to stress cellular/data coverage will likely be limited (at best) during a disaster, so here are some great tips to get tech ready.

First up is the American Red Cross S.O.S. app for Android, which provides emergency care information, complete with videos featuring the voice of Dr. Oz. While there isn’t anything similar for other platforms, the British Red Cross has a first aid app for Android, Blackberry, and iPhone. It features instructions for administering first aid (many with videos), preparedness tips, and knowledge challenges. For the iPhone, the American Red Cross produced a shelter finder app that lists available shelters throughout the United States and shows them on a map – like a portable version of this site.

FEMA created an app for phones and tablets of the Android, Apple, and Blackberry persuasion, which gives safety tips for disasters and helps you build a kit and plan your emergency meeting locations. It also features maps of recovery centers and shelters, as well as links to FEMA social media sites. (Another low-tech way to stay in touch with FEMA is by signing up for their text alerts.)

These are only a few of the apps I’ve found helpful. I also have news and social media apps to get info and stay in touch during a disaster. Well, what are you waiting for? Go explore!

Preparedness Education – Are you Red Cross Ready?

What are my local hazards? Why should I prepare? What do I do when disaster strikes?

These are just a few of the subjects the members of the Preparedness Education team address on a regular basis. Volunteers of the American Red Cross give preparedness presentations, free of charge, to local businesses, schools, community groups, and other organizations in an effort to help them prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies (see the Red Cross mission creeping in there?).

The key steps to preparedness are: Get a kit; make a plan; be informed. In sunny Southern California, we don’t always think about the hazards in our area, so the first step is familiarizing ourselves with them.

The more you prepare for a disaster, the easier it will be for you to cope, respond, and recover. Preparedness volunteer lead and AmeriCorps member Amy Estey urges people to “think of what kind of life you want after a disaster and plan accordingly.” Being prepared allows you to be more self-reliant and assist your family and community in their time of need.

Consider every place you spend time and make an effort to learn the plan for each location. If making a kit seems overwhelming, make it part of your normal routine by assembling items little by little. Your commitment to preparedness could save your life.

“You can’t control how the earthquake will shake you…but you can act now to control how it will harm you.”

These words from Dr. Lucy Jones of USGS ring true not only for earthquakes, but also for other disasters.