‘Be Red Cross Ready’ is class goal

       How prepared are you for a disaster?
       If the answer is “not very much,” don't feel alone. According to American Red Cross volunteer Mary Lowery, 93 percent of the people in a recent survey responded that way.
       “People don't usually think about disaster until it happens to them,” she pointed out. The sad part is that such tragedies can happen quickly and devastatingly. “People who were hit by Hurricane Katrina are still picking up their lives.”
       Starting in February, the Pikes Peak region's Red Cross chapter will offer three free 30-minute classes - titled “Be Red Cross Ready” - on disaster preparedness at the West Intergenerational Center. The dates/times are:
  • Wednesday, Feb. 20 at 6 p.m.
  • March 18 at 1 p.m.
  • April 17 at 6 p.m.
           The classes will discuss the “ways people can help themselves if something happens,” Lowery said.
           Covering the southeast quarter of the state, the Red Cross' Pikes Peak Chapter office is at 1040 S. Eighth St. In addition to the “Ready” campaign, which has gone out to 6,000 people in the area, the chapter's efforts include disaster response (67 incidents last year, in which 1,537 people received emergency food, shelter, and supplies). The phone is 785-2731.
           To prepare for the unthinkable - the kinds of events that could mean loss of homes and possessions or shutoffs of such vital supplies as water, fuel or food - the Red Cross advises people to put together a kit of essential items. Suggested contents would include water (at least a gallon per person per day), food (preferably non- perishable, high protein varieties), waterproof matches, personal items (copies of important papers and IDs), a flashlight (consider a hand-cranking one that need no batteries), first-aid kit, medications, radio (also hand-cranked), tools, sanitary supplies, a map, pet supplies (if applicable) and money (ATMs and credit cards won't work if the power is out).
           “If you have these basic supplies, you can do anything,” Lowery said.
           A similar sort of kit is also suggested for vehicles, in case of a breakdown or being stranded for any reason.
           Typical of Red Cross offices across the country, the Pikes Peak chapter is volunteer-driven (11 paid staff and more than 300 volunteers). Along with fellow worker John Memmer, Lowery is employed by AmeriCorps*VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) and as such has been assigned to do volunteer work in the Red Cross office.

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