Voice of the consumer: National Preparedness Month more than a formality

11 Call For Action lead investigator Katie Pelton.
11 Call For Action lead investigator Katie Pelton.(KKTV)
Published: Sep. 19, 2022 at 6:23 AM MDT
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Our 11 News Call For Action team pens a weekly column for our news partner The Gazette. Previous columns can be found here.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - September is National Preparedness Month. The American Red Cross is urging all of us to prepare for emergencies right now and to have a plan, in case disaster strikes.

“Just last year, 40% of Americans — some 130 million people — were living in a county that was struck by some kind of disaster, whether that was heavy rainfall, storms, higher temperatures, hurricanes, and for us, of course, it’s home fires in Colorado and wildfires,” said Phil Martinez, executive director, the American Red Cross of Southeast Colorado.

The nonprofit organization put together a list of three steps families can take to prepare for disasters:

• First, make an emergency kit. The Red Cross said it should include a gallon of water per person, per day, nonperishable food, a flashlight, and a battery-powered radio. You should also include a first-aid kit, medications, supplies for babies and pets, personal hygiene items, copies of important paperwork, cellphone chargers, blankets, maps and emergency contact information.

• Second, make a plan. The Red Cross said you should plan for what to do in case you are separated from your family during an emergency and what to do if you have to evacuate during an emergency.

• Third, be informed. Make sure you know how local officials will contact you during a disaster and how you can get information, like evacuation orders.

Martinez responded to a recent tragedy in our state — the most destructive wildfire in Colorado history — the Marshall fire that started on Dec. 30, 2021, and burned more than 1,000 homes in Boulder County.

“I was there for the Marshall fire down in Boulder and it was horrific, the devastation that was involved,” said Martinez. “Of course, we had our fires here just over 10 years ago here in Colorado Springs, so we want to make sure that we’re prepared for that: blankets, phone chargers, what you do if you have pets.”

I know many of you may have been impacted by the Waldo Canyon fire and Black Forest fire in recent years. I asked Martinez what advice he has for all us.

“Katie, I would say, sadly most of us are not prepared. In Pueblo, five out of six homes do not have a functioning smoke alarm. So we have to make sure that at the Red Cross, we keep you prepared with what is needed with our kits, with our evacuation plans,” said Martinez. “With regards to the Marshall fire, it was horrific, Katie, just so many devastated people. I was actually at the Amazon facility putting the kits together for those that were affected. We rushed to the fire within hours.”

“We just had the Apex Apartment fire; our team was there within hours opening up a shelter for those that were needed,” he added. “But that’s reactive, we want to make sure that your family is proactive. Sit down with your family, talk about what is needed, where is your evacuation plan, do you have blankets, do you have an area, do you have contact phone numbers, cellphone chargers, all of those should be put in your kit, in a bag, ready to go at a moment’s notice.”

For more information from the Red Cross about how to prepare for disasters, visit the website kktv.com and click on the red “find it” tab.

Click here to read the original column on gazette.com.