National Preparedness Month is more than just a formality

The team pens 11 weekly “call to action” columns for our news partner The Gazette. Previous columns can be found over here.

Colorado Springs, Colorado (KKTV) – September is National Preparedness Month. The American Red Cross urges all of us to prepare for emergencies right now and make a plan in the event of a disaster.

“Just last year, 40% of Americans—about 130 million people—lived in a county that was hit by some sort of disaster, whether it was torrential rain, storms, high temperatures, hurricanes, and for us, of course, it’s true,” said Phil Martinez, Executive Director of the Cross. American Reds in Southeast Colorado: “Colorado House Fires and Wildfires.”

The nonprofit has developed a list of three steps families can take to prepare for disaster:

• First, prepare an emergency kit. The Red Cross said it should include a gallon of water per person per day, non-perishable food, a flashlight and a battery-powered radio. You should also include a first aid kit, medication, baby and pet supplies, personal hygiene items, copies of important papers, cell phone chargers, blankets, maps, and emergency contact information.

• Second, make a plan. The Red Cross said you should plan what to do if you are separated from your family during an emergency and what to do if you have to evacuate during an emergency.

• Third, be informed. Make sure you know how local officials contact you during a disaster and how you can obtain information, such as evacuation orders.

Martinez responded to a recent tragedy in our state—the most devastating wildfire in Colorado history—the Marshall Fire that began on December 30, 2021, and burned more than 1,000 homes in Boulder County.

“I was there for the Marshall Fire in Boulder and the devastation was horrific,” Martinez said. “Of course, we had our fires here a little over 10 years ago here in Colorado Springs, so we want to make sure we’re prepared for that: blankets, phone chargers, what to do if you have pets.”

I know many of you may have been affected by the Waldo Canyon and Black Forest fires in recent years. I asked Martinez what advice he would give us all.

“Katie, I would say, unfortunately most of us are not prepared. In Pueblo, five out of six homes do not have a working smoke alarm. So we have to make sure that we at the Red Cross, keep you prepared for what is required of our groups, with special evacuation plans Us,” Martinez said. “In connection with the Marshall fire, it was awful, Katie, so many people devastated. I was actually at the Amazon facility putting tools together for those affected. We rushed to the fire within hours.”

“We just had an Apex Apartment fire; our team was there within hours to open a shelter for those in need.” “But it’s a reaction, we want to make sure your family is proactive. Sit with your family, talk about what’s needed, where’s your evacuation plan, do you have blankets, do you have a zone, do you have phone numbers to contact, cell phone chargers, all that stuff.” It should be in your kit, in a bag, ready to go at any moment.”

For more information from the Red Cross on how to prepare for disasters, visit and click on the red “Find It” tab.

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