Last year reminded us that no one is beyond the reach of emergencies. In the US, millions of people across the country were impacted by an unrelenting wave of devastating disasters—from back-to-back hurricanes to record-breaking wildfires, historic storms, and home fires—compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Powered by generous donors like Latter-day Saint Charities, the American Red Cross responded to a new large disaster nearly every day this past year, providing safe shelter, hot meals, emotional support, and resources to aid in recovery. On top of the pandemic, disasters overwhelmed families who spent more nights in emergency lodging than any other year over the past decade. In places like Louisiana, California, and so many others, disaster survivors experienced repetitive and heartbreaking losses when hit by one disaster after another.
At the same time, the need for blood—a different type of emergency—exists every day in our communities. Patients across the country, and their families rallying behind them, count on the generosity of blood donors.
The Red Cross must collect enough blood every day to meet the needs of accident and burn victims; heart surgery and organ transplant patients; and those receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer, or sickle cell disease. Blood is perishable, so the need for it is constant, and it’s the blood already on the shelves that helps to save lives in a crisis.
Last September, Erica Mckenna encountered complications during delivery of her baby, Annie. Annie ended up needing three blood transfusions to survive. “We’re extremely lucky. We’re extremely grateful for the people who are donating blood and the amazing doctors who took care of us both,” Erica said. “Annie wouldn’t be here without those blood transfusions. And I can’t imagine our lives without her.”
Whether an emergency harms one person or one million people, collaborative efforts with Latter-day Saint Charities help ensure the Red Cross is prepared to show up each day in communities across the country to aid people in their time of greatest need.
And as we see disasters fueled by climate change strike with greater frequency and intensity, and as the need for lifesaving blood continues, it’s more important than ever that the Red Cross be ready to help immediately. But it’s even more important that the people and communities we serve—like you—are also prepared to face the unexpected.
National Preparedness Month is recognized each September to promote family and community emergency planning. Fall is when we typically see more hurricanes, wildfires, and other disasters. It can also be an unpredictable time to collect enough blood to meet patient needs due to the potential for disasters that can disrupt blood drives, even without the added struggle of a global pandemic.
Emergencies can happen anytime, anywhere—so National Preparedness Month offers the perfect opportunity for you to not only get your families prepared for emergencies but also take steps to help safeguard others and prepare your communities.
Getting prepared for disasters of all sizes is easier than it sounds! Here are three simple actions you can take right now:
- Get a Kit. First, build your emergency kit with a gallon of water per person, per day; nonperishable food; a flashlight; and a battery-powered radio. Also include a first aid kit, medications, supplies for infants or pets, a multipurpose tool, and personal hygiene items. And don’t forget to add copies of important papers, cell phone chargers, blankets, maps of the area, and emergency contact information.
- Make a Plan. Next, plan what to do in case you are separated from your family during an emergency and what to do if you have to evacuate. Make sure to coordinate your plan with your child’s school, your work, and your community’s emergency plans. If you need to evacuate, don’t forget to wear a mask and maintain social distancing to stay as safe as possible.
- Be Informed. Finally, plan to stay informed by finding out how local officials will contact you during a disaster and how you will get important information, such as evacuation orders. Download the free Red Cross Emergency app to put weather alerts and safety information in your hands. Search “American Red Cross” in your mobile device’s app store, or visit redcross.org/apps.
And there are so many opportunities to join in our Red Cross mission and help your loved ones and neighbors when needed:
For more than a decade, Latter-day Saint Charities has been one of our most significant and steadfast supporters. You’ve provided financial gifts that help us respond to more than 60,000 disasters in the US every single year—from hurricanes to home fires. You’ve donated cleaning supplies and hygiene kits with items to help families recover after disasters. Latter-day Saints also donate lifesaving blood for patients in need and help us install smoke alarms in vulnerable communities. And most recently, they have made donations helping us meet the needs of people with sickle cell disease and improve the overall effectiveness and efficiency of our blood collection operations.
This incredible generosity has helped power Red Cross services for the thousands and thousands of individuals, families, and communities across the US who rely on us when help can’t wait.
We’re so grateful for this chance to say thank you to the caring and compassionate members and friends of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for all that you do to ensure we can help people during their darkest hours.
Although we can’t control all the challenges faced by our communities, together we can be better prepared to face them—and any crises yet to come.
The American Red Cross name and logo [and copyrighted materials] are used with its permission, which in no way constitutes an endorsement, express or implied, of any product, service, company, opinion, or political position. The American Red Cross name and logo are registered trademarks owned by the American National Red Cross. For more information about the American Red Cross, please visit redcross.org.