- The Washington Times - Friday, February 21, 2003

The American Red Cross yesterday announced a five-step preparedness plan for any natural disaster or terrorist attack.
The Together We Prepare campaign calls on families, neighborhoods, schools and communities to make preparations before emergencies.
"We know that there is heightened anxiety at this time, and we are hoping to turn that anxiety into action," said Red Cross President Marsha J. Evans. "If there is a silver lining to this cloud, it is that people are realizing that it is past time for the nation to be prepared for disasters and emergencies whether they be natural or from terrorists."
The Red Cross recommends the following "five simple steps": make a plan, build a kit, get trained, volunteer and give blood. They advise individuals to "identify potential disaster scenarios and practice what to do if evacuation is needed."
The five-step plan comes in the wake of the Homeland Security Department's decision earlier this month to raise the national threat level to Code Orange, or high risk. Last week, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge told Americans to acquire water, plastic and duct tape in the event of a terrorist attack, prompting many people across the country to clear store shelves of the products.
The Red Cross asks that Americans also include in that three-day supply kit nonperishable food items, a flashlight, a radio, extra batteries and necessary medicine.
"Our efforts complement the Homeland Security plan," said Mrs. Evans, referring to the Homeland Security Department's Ready Campaign. The Red Cross is working in cooperation with Mr. Ridge's demands that Americans "stay alert on a day to day basis" by developing an emergency plan including contacting family members and preparing a supply kit.
The Red Cross plan asks people also to prepare for the safety of their neighbors through first-aid training, by making commitments to be emergency volunteers and by donating blood. The last step is one of the most critical, Mrs. Evans said.
"The nation has a critically low blood supply only enough to last a day or two. Preparedness means that we should have a week's supply," she said. Anyone interested in donating blood can call 800/435-7669 to find a Red Cross chapter that is close.
Mr. Ridge has said that the Code Orange threat could be lowered soon. However, Mrs. Evans said she hopes the interest in preparedness will remain. "We want Americans to be prepared all the time. The goal of preparedness predated September 11 and it continues today," she said.
Anyone seeking preparedness information and disaster safety tips should contact the Red Cross' national preparedness information hot line 866/GET-INFO or check its Web site at www.redcross.org.

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