Being prepared in the case of an emergency can make all the difference. When disaster strikes, big or small, being prepared and ready can help mitigate damages to your home and your personal safety. The American Red Cross works to help people and businesses get ready, from anything for preparing for a hurricane to making sure your smoke alarms are up to date in the event of a house fire.

“Obviously disasters are extremely anxiety-inducing and so if you’ve had a plan and you are prepared, you don’t have to have that worry, you’re already all set,” said Abby Kelly, Regional Preparedness Manager. Kelly says in Vermont, the main events they deal with are home fires, especially in the wintertime, flooding particularly during the spring melt, and high winds.

The preparedness can range from creating a plan to get out of your home to evacuating a neighborhood. “And if we have pets, what would we do with the pets? Thinking about things also like medications, if we had to escape quickly, what would we do with that type of thing.”

The Red Cross offers training to families and organizations to prepare for these instances. Training can include hands-free CPR training, winter storm readiness, and specific programs geared toward children and older adults. The organization also has a home fire campaign where Red Cross volunteers will install a smoke alarm in your home, free of charge. “People are 50% more likely to get out of a home fire safely if they have smoke alarms installed safely and properly and if they are not older smoke alarms,” said Kelly.