Special to bizNEVADA
“When major disasters strike, you expect to see American Red Cross workers running shelters and delivering food to people in devastated neighborhoods,” Zanny Marsh, Executive Director of the Red Cross of Northern Nevada, said. “Closer to home, Red Cross volunteers respond several times per week when Nevada fire departments ask them to assist people whose homes have been damaged or destroyed by fires. But did you know that the Red Cross has services which can help businesses and individuals be better prepared for emergencies?”
Power outages, water main breaks and medical issues can disrupt a business’ daily operations. Disasters have the potential to cause workplaces to fold and schools to close. The Red Cross developed the free, web-based Ready Rating™program to help businesses, schools and other organizations prepare for emergencies.
Ready Rating program members complete a confidential assessment of their current readiness level for emergencies and receive immediate, customized feedback with tips and resources for them to improve their readiness scores.
The program has been successfully used by organizations around the country, from small businesses to large corporations. Ready Rating components make it easy to start or to enhance current emergency response plans:
- The Emergency Response Plan Tool enables program members to build a customized plan which includes OSHA-required topics to help their employees know their roles in the first 24-72 hours of an emergency;
- The Next Steps report recommends specific actions members should take and the level of effort required to execute them;
- The Resource Center links members to preparedness tools, including activities and exercises, so organizations can better develop and practice preparedness plans;
- The Ready Rating store provides emergency supplies at the click of a button.
Companies and schools realize that contingency planning is a key element to running a successful operation. The Ready Rating program is consistent with Private Sector or PS-Prep Standards developed by the Department of Homeland Security.
“More than 15,000 businesses and schools have registered for Ready Rating,” Marsh said. “Feedback from them indicates that most have used the Ready Rating materials to update their preparedness plans and educate their employees on workplace preparedness. That’s our goal for Nevada – to help businesses, schools, and other organizations be better prepared when emergencies happen.”
Additional information and the steps to take to join the program can be found at readyrating.org.
Preparing Yourself and Your Loved Ones
The same planning you do for your business also should be done for your home. The Red Cross has preparedness classes for children and adults. Be Red Cross Ready shows adults how to improve personal disaster readiness by making a plan, preparing a kit, and being informed about potential disasters.
“We have a brand-new program geared toward second graders, Pedro the Penguin,” Marsh said. “What we’ve found is that even at this young age, children can understand and use preparedness tips.”
“Our signature program for grade school children is the Pillowcase Project. This teaches 3rd– 5th graders how to stay safe during emergencies. We train kids about what to do during fires and earthquakes or other common disasters. This helps them remain calmer and leads to better outcomes when the unexpected occurs. We’ve found that after taking the training, students go home and tell the adults they live with what they’ve learned, so the entire family becomes safer.”
The most common type of disaster in Nevada is home fires. “Our Home Fire Campaign ensures that people have smoke alarms in their homes,” Marsh added. “We give smoke alarm recipients ideas on how to plan ahead. How will you exit each room if there’s a fire? Where will you go once you’ve evacuated? Are you holding home fire drills?”
Many people have no idea that they may have as little as two minutes, after smoke alarms are triggered, to evacuate their homes safely. They also may be unaware of how often home fires occur. That’s why the most important things you can do to prepare for home emergencies and keep yourselves safe is to have working smoke alarms and know what to do if the alarms sound.
These programs can be accessed through the American Red Cross local offices in Elko, Incline Village, Las Vegas, Reno, and Winnemucca.