Red Cross prepares Kern County to stay ahead of disaster

Shawn Collins, Reporter

In response to the recent chemical spill, the American Red Cross opened an emergency evacuation center at First Baptist Church in Taft.

The center closed the same day it opened, but was able to provide free services to a handful of Taft residents. According to Red Cross Regional Communications Manager, Nicole Maul, the goal of the Red Cross’ emergency evacuation centers is to ensure that all members of a community are provided free access to disaster relief, regardless of citizenship status.

The Red Cross also emphasized the importance of building a kit, making a plan, and being informed.”

A go-bag should be stocked in preparation of an evacuation event, and should contain flashlights and extra batteries, battery-powered radio and cellphone with charger, first aid kit, 7-day supply of medications, products for sanitation and personal hygiene, copies of deeds, passports and other important documents, emergency contact information, extra clothing, pillows and blankets.

As another way to prepare for future disaster, the Red Cross recommends discussing potential disaster scenarios with members of your household, coming up with a response plan for each, and knowing how to contact family members after a disaster has occurred. Individual members of the household should be assigned different responsibilities in order to allow you all to coordinate your efforts as a team.

When making plan, consideration should also be made to learn the different kinds of emergency situations that are more likely to occur in your area. The Red Cross advised to learn the methods for how you will be notified by authorities in the event of a future disaster, and how you will receive news updates thereafter. Furthermore, it can be important to become informed of the differences between various alerts and weather watches.

If you are new to an area, or travelling through a region that you’re are unfamiliar with, the website notes that you should learn what actions are needed in those regions in order to keep yourself safe.

While the evacuation center in Taft was only operational for one day, its task to provide the community with the resources it needed were considered a success.

“When responding to a disaster or emergency, it’s important to remain calm. Disasters and emergencies are difficult, but knowing there are resources available is the key,” according to Maul.

Disaster can strike for anyone at any time. Not only was January’s collaboration between the Red Cross and the Fire department a successful operation, it also managed to accomplish the added goal of ensuring that the community received as much information as possible that would allow households to stay safe, alert and prepared for future crises.