Red Cross preaches public proactivity in new initiative

WASHINGTON: The American Red Cross is urging families and neighborhoods to prepare for "emerging threats" in its new nationwide campaign, Together We Prepare.

WASHINGTON: The American Red Cross is urging families and neighborhoods to prepare for "emerging threats" in its new nationwide campaign, Together We Prepare.

Not unlike the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Ready campaign, the Red Cross effort urges people to make disaster plans and keep emergency items around the house in case of an unforeseen disaster. The message is being spread through PSAs, nationwide press events, partnerships with local nonprofits, and a brochure about home preparation sponsored by battery-maker Duracell.

The Red Cross acknowledges fear of terrorism as the starting point for the drive, but a spokeswoman said they're interested in promoting preparedness for any event that could interrupt basic services or keep family members separated, including natural disasters and accidents.

"This is about taking that anxiety and turning it into action, being prepared for any emergency," said Devorah Goldburg, officer, strategic response. "A couple of weeks ago, we had that ice storm and some people were stranded on the road for days. People need to be prepared. That's what the Red Cross has been about for 120 years."

Nonetheless, the nonprofit is working alongside the DHS, calling its campaigns "complementary." Indeed, secretary Tom Ridge unveiled the Ready campaign last month from a Red Cross chapter in Cincinnati.

The centerpiece of the campaign, slated to run indefinitely, is five steps the Red Cross suggest all US families take in order to be prepared: Make a plan for evacuation and communication; build a kit that includes basic emergency items; get trained in life-saving techniques; volunteer with the Red Cross or a similar group; and give blood if eligible.

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