Seeley Swan Pathfinder
May 13, 1999
by Karen Lyncoln
for the Pathfinder
"We want every citizen to have the valuable information contained in this brochure," said Dot Northcutt, Manager of the American Red Cross Western Valley's Chapter in Missoula. For more than 100 years, the American Red Cross has been a leader of disaster relief activities, helping people prevent, prepare for, and cope with disasters and other emergencies.
The Red Cross has identified the Year 2000 (Y2k) technology problem as a potential emergency situation that citizens should prepare for. Because no one can be certain of the impacts or duration of the Y2k problem, the American Red Cross has developed a preparedness checklist:
Check with manufacturers of any essential computer-controlled electronic equipment in your home to see if that equipment may be affected. This includes fire and security alarm systems, programmable thermostats, appliances, consumer electronics, garage door openers, electronic locks, and any other electronic equipment in which an "embedded chip" may control its operation.
Stock disaster supplies. No one is certain how long effects may last, so each family must decide how many supplies they will store.
Have some extra cash or traveler's checks on hand in case electronic transactions involving ATM cards or credit cards cannot be processed.
Keep your automobile or truck gas tank above half full.
In case the power fails, plan to use alternative cooking devices. Don't use open flames or charcoal grills indoors.
Have extra blankets, coats, hats, and gloves to keep warm. Only use alternative heating sources that are designed for home use. Camp stoves and heaters should only be used out of doors in a well-ventilated area.
Have plenty of flashlights and extra batteries on hand. Don't use candles for emergency lighting.
Examine your smoke alarms now. If you have smoke alarms that are hard-wired into your home's electrical system, check to see if they have battery back-ups. Every fall, replace all batteries in all smoke alarms as a general fire safety precaution.
If you plan to use a portable generator, contact the Missoula Electric Coop for assistance in doing the connections correctly.
If an emergency situation develops, check with emergency service providers and listen to battery-operated radio or television for additional information. Support efforts by your local sheriff, fire, and emergency management officials to ensure that their systems will be able to operate at all times.
The Pathfinder has enclosed a copy of Your Family Disaster Supplies Kit in this week's edition of the paper so that each subscriber will know the types of supplies that may be needed. There are six basics that citizens should stock in their homes: water, food, first aid supplies, clothing and bedding, tools and emergency supplies, and items needed by special groups such as babies, seniors, and people with chronic medical conditions. The Red Cross recommends that families begin stocking their supplies as soon as possible in order to spread the cost over a longer time and to take advantage of special opportunities such as summer canning and fall hunting. The local chapter donated the brochures for this special insert.
For more information about preparing for any disaster or emergency, you can contact the local chapter of the American Red Cross at 549-6441 or access the national organization at the home page at http://www.redcross.org http://www.redcross.org on the Internet.