Man performing hands-only CPR

During times of emergencies and natural disasters such as Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, response from emergency professionals is often delayed as systems are bombarded with requests for help.

Being prepared and trained gives people the skills and confidence to act in an emergency and potentially save a life.

Be informed

A first aid and CPR/AED course is a vital component of disaster preparedness. Training increases the likelihood a victim will survive an accident, serious injury or sudden cardiac arrest.

The American Heart Association’s Heartsaver course offers hands-on or online learning of first aid, CPR and use of an AED, short for automated external defibrillator. It also offers suggestions on how to assemble a first aid kit.

Make a plan

Develop an emergency plan and know what everyone in the family should do. The American Red Cross recommends that the plan:

  • Include ways to contact and find each other. Include two places to meet: one near home and one outside the neighborhood in case circumstances prevent people from returning home.
  • Identify an emergency contact from outside the area in case local phone lines are overloaded or out of service.
  • Include where everyone will go if ordered to evacuate and what route they will take to get there. When discussing evacuation, include several different routes in case roads are closed.
  • Consider pets in case of evacuation. Identify pet-friendly hotels and animal shelters along the evacuation route.
  • Be practiced twice a year. Drive the planned evacuation route and plot alternate routes in case roads are impassable.

[Another big hurricane raises stakes for heart patients]

Assemble a disaster kit 

Put together an emergency kit for either sheltering in place or for fast evacuation. Stock your kit with the following recommendations from the Red Cross:

  • A three-day supply of water—one gallon per person per day
  • A three-day supply of non-perishable, easy-to-prepare food
  • Flashlight
  • Battery-powered radio
  • Extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Medications (seven-day supply) and medical items
  • Multi-purpose tool
  • Sanitation and personal hygiene items
  • Pet supplies for three days
  • Copies of important documents, such as a list of current medications and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates and insurance policies
  • Cellphone with chargers
  • Family and emergency contact information
  • Extra cash
  • Emergency blanket
  • Map of the area