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Monday, September 30, 2013

Sheltering in Place: Lessons Learned in the Wake of a Disaster

The first of many flash flood warnings were issued on the evening of Sept. 11. To many students at the University of Colorado in Boulder that were lucky enough to be spared of the evacuation orders, the request to shelter in place was something unfamiliar to them, and in some situations nearly impossible due to a lack of preparation.

In the days that followed, the term “shelter in place” became a catch phrase in the state of Colorado, with some cities being completely closed in due to washed out roads and bridges. In many of these areas, no-flush and boil orders were put into effect due to the lack of an operational water treatment plant and hopes of conservation of what clean water there was. Almost two weeks after this historic flood began areas are still without electricity. With no other option, residents had to shelter in place- whether they were ready or not.

September is National Preparedness Month, and even before the unprecedented floods overtook parts of the state, the Red Cross was asking people to prepare themselves by taking some easy steps each week. Ironically, the week of Sept. 15 was the week about sheltering in place.

After seeing the need to be prepared, many Colorado residents are wondering what steps they should take to prepare themselves for the worst next time, beginning with sheltering in place. It all starts with a plan.

To start, build yourself a kit that includes everything you need to live for 72 hours. This includes food, water, clothing and medication. To find out what to put in your kit, visit redcross.org/prepare. Another handy tool is an emergency radio, which will keep you informed, even when there’s no access to other sources of information. Many of these radios have fancy add-ons like flashlights, and some even have USB ports and crank handles to charge your phone.

If you have your kit, you’re on your way to being prepared. Take some easy steps to ensure that you’re Red Cross Ready. To find else what more you can do, head to http://www.redcross.org/news/event/National-Preparedness-Month---Colorado and check out the “What’s Your Plan?” checklist.

Preparedness is a lifestyle, not a destination.

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