Gail Toscano of the American Red Cross of Monroe County and Rotary District Governor Elect Bob Wehe, a Red Cross volunteer, spoke to the West End Rotary Club about Creating a family disaster plan." Toscano said there were three things a family should have in place before a disaster or emergency strikes: Get a Kit, Make a Plan and Be Informed.

No one knows when a disaster or emergency may happen. These three things can help make a difference," Toscano said.

The Red Cross advises you to prepare a easy-to-carry kit with additional supplies on hand. That kit should contain at least one gallon of water per person per day; nonperishable, high protein food items that require no refrigeration, preparation; a hand-crank flashlight and extra batteries; a first-aid kit, medications-prescribed and nonprescribed; a radio with extra batteries or a hand-crank one; tools like a wrench, manual can opener; screwdriver, hammer, pliers, knife, duct tape, plastic sheeting and garbage bags and ties; clothing including sturdy shoes and gloves; personal items like important papers (ID, insurance policies, birth certificates, passports, etc.) eyeglasses, contact lenses and solution, toys, books; sanitary supplies like toilet paper, towelettes, personal hygiene, bleach, etc.; money (cash); contact information of family phone numbers, email addresses; pet supplies for each pet of water, food, collar, leash, litter box, plastic bags, medications; map with an evacuation route on it from your area.

Store these supplies in a sturdy easy to carry container and keep it in a accessible place. Keep a smaller version kit in your car.

When making a plan in how to handle a disaster, be sure to discuss with your family about what kind of disasters could happen in your area. Work as a team, assigning certain responsibilities to each member. Choose two places to meet after a disaster-right outside your home in case of a home emergency or outside your neighborhood in case you cannot reach home or asked to evacuate your neighborhood. Learn what should be shut off in the home and how to handle a fire extinguisher. Tell everyone where the emergency information and supplies are kept. Practice evacuating your home twice a year. Include your pets in your practices. Support your community by volunteering and giving blood.

The third thing to prepare for an emergency is to be informed. Know what may happen in your area and how you can help. Identify how local authorities will notify you during a disaster, what radio/TV stations to tune into. Contact your local Red Cross chapter and take first aid, CPR and disaster training classes.

To learn more, call 570-476-3800 or log on to www.redcrossmonroepa.org [1].

"Being prepared can make an emergency less stressful," said Toscano.