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Everyone should have an emergency preparedness plan

Severe weather season will be upon us before we know it and now is the time to prepare for what Mother Nature will send our way.

The American Red Cross is participating in National Severe Weather Preparedness Week by encouraging all households to be ready for the next emergency or disaster.

MAKE A PLAN: It is important that everyone in the household helps put the emergency plan together and knows what they should do if something occurs. During the day many people are at work and school so household members may not be together when a disaster happens. The plan should include ways to contact one another and two predetermined places to meet — one near the home in case of a sudden emergency like a fire and one outside the neighborhood in case circumstances prevent people from returning home. People also should identify an emergency contact person from outside the area in case local telephone lines are overloaded or out of service.

Any emergency plan also should include decisions about where family members will go if ordered to evacuate and what route they will take to get there. It’s a good idea to include alternate routes in case roads are closed. If pets are part of the household, make sure to include plans for them such as pet-friendly hotels and animal shelters along the evacuation route.

RED CROSS APPS: The Red Cross has free mobile apps that provide information on what to do before, during and after emergencies including developing an emergency plan. People can use the Make a Plan feature in the apps to create their plan and then share it with their loved ones. The preloaded content in the apps gives people access to vital information to use during emergencies even if they can’t connect to the Internet. The apps can be downloaded from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross.

DONATE BLOOD: Another way people can help ensure their community is ready for a disaster is to give blood. When an emergency occurs, it is the blood already on the shelves that is available to help patients who need it. Thousands of blood donations are needed every day. If someone would like to give blood, they must be at least 17 years of age, meet weight and height requirements and be in general good health. Donors should bring their Red Cross blood donor card or other form of positive ID with them.

Some states allow 16-year-olds to give with parental consent. To schedule a donation time or to get more information about giving blood, people can go to redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

To learn more go online to www.redcross.org/okc .