The Do 1 Thing site won the Awareness to Action category of FEMA’s 2014 Individual and Community Preparedness Awards. It’s a 12-month program of small steps that you can take to increase your personal and household preparedness. Throughout 2015, DEM will feature Do 1 Thing items during our weekly blog post series of One Thing Wednesdays. Check back here every week for a new preparedness activity or tip!
As we move into spring and its potential for severe storms, March’s theme is sheltering. Different hazards call for different protective actions. If your home is damaged or you’re otherwise displaced by a disaster, you may need to go to an emergency shelter. This is a temporary facility, usually operated by the American Red Cross.
What to Expect
At a shelter, the Red Cross or other agency will provide a roof over your head, a cot to sleep on, and meals and bottled water. They’ll partner with local health authorities to bring in nurses or other medical personnel to provide basic health care. They’ll also remain closely engaged with local authorities to provide you with updated information on the disaster (in Lexington, the Red Cross has its own station in our emergency operations center.
To ensure the health and safety of all shelter occupants, the Red Cross does not allow weapons, alcohol, or illegal drugs in its shelters. In addition, pets are not allowed unless they’re service animals. However, in most jurisdictions (including Lexington), the local chapter of the American Humane Society partners with the Red Cross to operate pet emergency shelters.
What to Bring
The most important thing you can bring to a shelter is information. All personal belongings can be replaced but having the right information will speed up the process of getting you the help you need. This includes:
- Personal identification;
- Medical history, including current prescriptions;
- Contact information for your out-of-town emergency contact; and
- Photos of all family members, which will help Red Cross workers reunite you with them if you become separated.
Bring a change of clothes, a pillow and blanket, and personal care and hygiene items. Supplies may be limited in a disaster’s early stages.
If you can, bring a few small comfort items, especially for any children or relatives with special needs who are traveling with you.
Pack light. Space in many emergency shelters is limited.
There is never a charge for emergency sheltering.
The Red Cross will not release information about you to anyone without your permission.