Resolve to reach out during emergencies

With January 1st come the infamous New Year’s resolutions. Some will be unresolved repeats from previous years and others will be new. January 11th will mark the 25th anniversary of the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday and would be a good time to consider a resolution based on this quote from Dr. King, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?” The MLK Day of Service is part of the President’s national United We Serve initiative.

Participating in these national service programs is a great way to give back to the community through organized projects. But you can also give back as an individual to your neighborhood in other ways.

Know thyself and thy neighbor
If you do not know your neighbors, the New Year is a good time to drop by and introduce yourself. Creating a strong sense of community can help keep a neighborhood more secure and disaster resistant.

Winter weather can provide information on who may need help during a major disaster. Determine the following and help those who need it or if you require aid please ask for help as needed.

  • Is there any impairment that prevents you or your neighbor from clearing the driveway of snow?
  • Are either you or your neighbor unable to drive if road conditions are bad?
  • Do either you or your neighbor require someone else to do the grocery shopping or pick up medications?
  • Is there a pet in the home that may need to be evacuated or cared for if the homeowner is unable to return home during a disaster event that isolates the neighborhood? Shoveling snow, picking up groceries or caring for a pet are all great ways to stay connected to our neighbors.

These acts of kindness can help determine what kind and how much help someone might need in the event of a major disaster. Whether assisting in an evacuation or helping someone shelter in place, knowing their needs in advance will help neighbors design more effective disaster plans and partnerships.

Rotate and donate
At least annually, the items in your 72-hour kit need to be reviewed and renewed. A well-supplied kit can be a lifesaver in a disaster; some of the items that should be rotated out of the kit can be a life saver today. Consider donating the following goods:

  • Canned or box food supplies that are within their expiration date.
  • Bottled water that is within its expiration date.
  • Gently used cold weather clothing that no longer fits.

Local charities need of all of these items. In 2009, 14.7 percent of Americans reported they either feared running out of food, actually ran out of food or were unable to afford balanced meals. This is the highest recorded rate of food insecurity reported since the completion of the first national food security survey in 1995.

Food, water and warm clothes can truly make a difference for those in need.

Examine the medical supplies
Looking after the community also means taking care of personal provisions. First Aid supplies require rotation. Expired prescription drugs need to be dropped off at a pharmaceutical drop box. Ensure all your sterile First Aid supplies are undamaged and properly sealed. Replace them as needed. These items can be a lifeline to an injured person and must be kept safe for future use within the kit.

Published 1-14-2011