People everywhere are feeling the impacts of climate change with more frequent and intense weather events threatening our communities. September is National Preparedness Month and the American Red Cross of Wisconsin urges everyone to get ready for these emergencies now.

Last year, more than 40% of Americans, some 130 million people, were living in a county struck by a climate-related disaster, according to analysis from the Washington Post. Disasters can happen anywhere, anytime. You can be ready; visit

“More powerful climate driven occurrences are happening across the United States than ever before,” said Mark Thomas, Regional CEO and Southeast Wisconsin Chapter executive director of American Red Cross. “In fact, there have been more climate-related disasters in the nation over the past two decades than in any other country. It’s vital that everyone take steps to be prepared.”

Three easy steps

Three simple steps can help to keep your family safe during disasters. They are get a kit, make a plan and be informed.

• Build your emergency kit with a gallon of water per person, per day; nonperishable food; a flashlight and a battery-powered radio. Also include a first-aid kit, medications, supplies for infants or pets, a multipurpose tool and personal hygiene items. Don’t forget to add copies of important papers, cell phone chargers, blankets, maps of the area and emergency contact information.

• Plan what to do in case you are separated from your family during an emergency and what to do if you have to evacuate. Make sure to coordinate your plan with your child’s school, work and community’s emergency plans.

• Stay informed by finding out what emergency situations may occur where you live, work and go to school, how local officials will contact you during a disaster and how you will get important information, such as evacuation orders.

• Include pets in your emergency plans. Remember, if you and your family need to evacuate so does your pet. It’s important to plan in advance to know which pet-friendly hotels are in your area and where your pets can stay in an emergency situation.

• Take any special considerations into account as part of your emergency planning. Older adults or people with mobility, hearing, learning or seeing disabilities may need to create a support network of people that can help during an emergency. Create a plan that takes into account capabilities, any help you may need and who can provide it, especially if you need to evacuate or the power goes out for several days.

Help your community

Red Cross volunteers play critical roles in their local communities by making sure families don’t have to face tough times alone. “Be ready to not only help your loved ones, but your neighbors too,” said Thomas. “Join us as a Disaster Action Team volunteer, learn lifesaving skills by signing up for first aid or CPR classes or make an appointment to give blood or platelets.”

A strong blood supply is key to preparedness for disasters and medical emergencies, and donors can ensure blood is on the shelves the moment it’s needed.

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides comfort to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; distributes international humanitarian aid; and supports veterans, military members and their families.

Donors can schedule an appointment to donate by visiting or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (733-2767).