Back to School 101: Be Prepared

A new school year is a fresh start for both kids and parents. And it’s the perfect time to make sure the whole family is prepared for emergencies and other unexpected events.

Has your family talked about what you would do in a disaster or emergency situation? Planning will give everyone some peace of mind, and will help ease those “what if?” worries.  

Get a Kit
Put together a disaster supplies kit, and involve your kids in the process. Download a list of supplies you should have and assemble them together.

Make a Plan
Sit down with your family and discuss what you would do in an emergency:

  • Decide how you would reach other family members and where to meet if they can’t return home.
  • Designate an out-of-area relative or friend as an emergency contact and make sure all household members know how to contact this person.
  • Make an evacuation plan by choosing two meeting places: one right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency, such as a fire, and another outside your neighborhood in case you cannot return home or are asked to evacuate.
  • Decide where you would go and what route you would take if you had to evacuate. Make sure to also plan ahead for your pets. Keep a phone list of “pet friendly” motels/hotels and animal shelters that are along your evacuation routes.

Be Informed
What kind of emergencies or natural disasters are most common in your area? Take time to learn about these events with your children so that your whole family knows what to expect and how to prepare.

Print out emergency contact cards for each member of your family, and have them carry the card with them at all times in case of a disaster or other emergency.

Additional Tips for Kids in School
Disasters and emergencies can happen at any time. It’s important to be prepared in case one occurs while your child is in school.

  • When the new school year begins, talk to your child’s teacher or school principal about the school’s emergency plan.
  • Remind your child that the most important thing they can do if an emergency happens at school is to stay calm and listen to the direction of their teachers or principal.
  • Tape a copy of your family’s contact numbers and meeting place(s) to the inside of your child’s binder or homework notebook and in their book bag.

To get further prepared, take a Red Cross course—every year, millions of people learn how to help their families, coworkers and neighbors with first aid and CPR/AED training.  

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation’s blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or join our blog at

Prepare Now to Stay Safe During a Tornado

According to the National Weather Services, Wisconsin averages 21 tornadoes a year and the Northeast Wisconsin Region of the American Red Cross wants you and your loved ones to stay safe should a tornado hit your area.  

To remind people of the dangers associated with tornadoes, thunderstorms, flooding and hail, Governor Doyle has proclaimed April 19-23, 2010 as Tornado and Severe Weather Awareness Week in Wisconsin.

 “At the Red Cross, we hope that this week encourages people to take protective safety measures if a tornado or severe weather should occur.” said Regional Executive Director Steve Hansen. “We recommend that everyone take the following steps to be prepared: Get a plan; Make a kit; Be Informed.”

Prepare a home tornado plan

  • Pick a place where family members could gather if a tornado is headed your way. It could be your basement or, if there is no basement, a center hallway, bathroom, or closet on the lowest floor. Keep this place uncluttered.
  • If you are in a high-rise building, you may not have enough time to go to the lowest floor. Pick a place in a hallway in the center of the building.

Assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit

  • First aid kit and essential medications.
  • Canned food and can opener.
  • At least three gallons of water per person.
  • Protective clothing, bedding, or sleeping bags.
  • Battery-powered radio, flashlight, and extra batteries.
  • Special items for infant, elderly, or disabled family members.
  • Written instructions on how to turn off electricity, gas, and water if authorities advise you to do so. (Remember, you’ll need a professional to turn natural gas service back on.) 

 Stay tuned for storm warnings

  • Listen to your local radio and TV stations for updated storm information.
  • Know what a tornado WATCH and WARNING means:
    • A tornado WATCH means a tornado is possible in your area.
    • A tornado WARNING means a tornado has been sighted and may be headed for your area. Go to safety immediately.
  • Tornado WATCHES and WARNINGS are issued by county.

Tornado WATCH is issued

  • Listen to local radio and TV stations for further updates.
  • Be alert to changing weather conditions. Blowing debris or the sound of an approaching tornado may alert you. Many people say it sounds like a freight train.

Tornado WARNING is issued

  • If you are inside, go to the safe place you picked to protect yourself from glass and other flying objects. The tornado may be approaching your area.
  • If you are outside, hurry to the basement of a nearby sturdy building or lie flat in a ditch or low-lying area.
  • If you are in a car or mobile home, get out immediately and head for safety (as above).

After a tornado

  • Watch out for fallen power lines and stay out of the damaged area.
  • Listen to the radio for information and instructions.
  • Use a flashlight to inspect your home for damage.
  • Do not use candles at any time.

For more information on tornadoes and other preparedness tips, check out the Preparedness section of

The Northeast Wisconsin American Red Cross is a regional grouping of six chapters serving 19 counties with a mission to prevent, prepare for and respond to disasters throughout the East Central Wisconsin, Fond du Lac County, Lakeland, Manitowoc/Calumet, Neenah-Menasha and Outagamie Chapters. To learn more about Red Cross programs, volunteer opportunities, and how you can help, contact the Northeast region at 920-231-3590 or visit