Preparing for Emergencies is Essential


One night this March, with snow on the ground and the night air frigid, a Fox Point family of twelve saw its home destroyed. An accidental electrical fire left them without shelter, clothing, or baby supplies — all in the blink of an eye. Thankfully, emergency responders and volunteers with the Red Cross arrived to provide for this family in its time of need.

It’s not something we like to think about, but we could all find ourselves facing the same type of disaster this Fox Point family suffered. The good news for Delaware residents is that the Delmarva Region of the American Red Cross responds to emergencies like this every year.

Last year, the Red Cross was on the scene for 122 emergencies right here in Delaware to provide assistance for 554 individuals. In addition to disaster response, the Red Cross also trained over 8,000 people in lifesaving skills.

With a winter like the one we’ve had this year, we’re familiar with the routine of stocking up on milk and eggs before an impending snowstorm and staying off the roadways as much as possible. But sometimes even our best-laid plans don’t protect us from natural disasters — even those we see coming. Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Irene came with plenty of warning, but power outages, home evacuations, and severe flooding still caused devastating damage in Delaware and throughout the region.

March is American Red Cross Month, and it’s a perfect opportunity to thank the many volunteers who make this important work possible. Delaware volunteers make themselves available day and night, and sacrifice time with their own families, to provide support and assistance when others in our community need it the most.

As important as volunteers and first responders are when tragedy strikes, there is no substitute for being prepared. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides tips on how to prepare and protect your family.

Be Informed. Learn the types of disasters that might occur in your neighborhood, and know which protective measures to take before, during, and afterward. These events can range from those affecting only you and your family, like a home fire or medical emergency, to those affecting your entire community, like a hurricane or flood.

Make a Plan. Your family may not be together when a disaster strikes, so it’s critical to plan in advance how you will get to a safe place, how you will contact one another, and how you will get back together.

Build a Kit. Put a collection together of the basic items your household may need in case of an emergency. It should include non-perishable food, water, important documents, and items that will help if electricity, heat, or gas are not working.

FEMA’s website,, has more helpful hints on preparing for an emergency. For more local information, Delawareans can visit the Emergency Preparedness page on my website,

It takes an entire community to prepare for an emergency. Act now. Being ready can save your life and the lives of those you love.

John Carney is Delaware’s member in the U.S. House of Representatives.