Islands Red Cross is helping people | GUEST VIEWPOINT

By Nancy Waddell

The American Red Cross recognizes the nation’s Everyday Heroes who give of themselves and in some way help their community. The American Red Cross is synonymous with helping people, and has been doing so for more than 130 years.

Some Whidbey Island heroes were recently recognized for specific acts of courage at the Islands Chapter Real Heroes Breakfast. But everyone can contribute to making our Island community resilient to house fires, flooding or earthquakes. You are really the first line of response to major disasters.

Get a kit. Think first about the basics of survival: fresh water, food, sanitation and warmth. Such items are easily purchased at our local hardware and grocery stores. Have prescription information and a little cash readily available. Pack your “go-kit” now!

Make a plan. Do you have a family emergency plan? If your family isn’t together when disaster strikes, plan how you will contact one another, get back together, and what you will do in different situations. Think about it for your neighborhood as well!

Be Informed. Knowing what could happen where you live and the appropriate ways to respond will impact the decisions you make and the actions you take. Classes and videos on preparedness and response are being offered at the Freeland Library and other locations this spring — seek one out or invite us to your meeting!

Get involved. Take the next step and get involved in preparing your community with organizations such as the American Red Cross, Medical Reserve Corps or Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). Make preparedness part of your water district activities. Get to know your neighbors, especially the most vulnerable.

The Red Cross responds to nearly 70,000 disasters a year in this country, providing shelter, food, emotional support and other necessities to those affected. In fiscal 2011-12, the Islands Chapter assisted over 1,300 individuals with disaster relief, classes, or service to the Armed Forces. South Whidbey has had calls for relief lately, and we are prepared to help when needed.

Recently, the Red Cross released smart phone apps so users can have planning and real-time information at their fingertips. Go to Google Store or iTunes to download apps for earthquakes, floods, fires and first aid.

The Red Cross is not a government agency and relies on donations of time and money to do its work. An average of 91 cents of every dollar given to the Red Cross is invested in helping people in need.

“Please remember those who help everyone on Whidbey Island by giving their time to help their neighbor,” says Mary Frances Close, director of the Islands Chapter. “We want to thank our heroes during Red Cross Month — the volunteers, class takers and financial supporters who help us assist those in need. And we welcome your participation in this work!”

American Red Cross, The Islands Chapter, P.O. Box 249, Anacortes WA 98221, 360-293-2911.

South Whidbey Disaster Response Team, swdisasterteam@whidbey.com. Emergency Preparedness: http://safeinthesound.org and http://makeitthrough.org.

Nancy Waddell of Clinton represents the Islands Chapter of American Red Cross


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