September 12, 2023
Disasters disproportionately affect the most vulnerable communities, including low-income, older adults, those with disabilities and people of color. When displaced by disasters, these underserved groups oftentimes can't return home for longer periods or are displaced permanently, have an increased risk of poverty and food insecurity, and suffer from chronic housing and health challenges long after the catastrophe ends.
With increasingly extreme weather events, including deadly storms, devastating floods, extreme heat and raging fires, preparation and education are more urgent than ever. Trusted organizations like the American Red Cross prepare communities to withstand the shocks and stresses of a disaster before it happens and also provide support and relief during difficult times. The organization responds to more than 60,000 disasters nationwide each year.
In preparation for Hurricane Ian in 2022, Red Cross volunteers unloaded trailers of supplies (cots, blankets, gloves, flashlights and toiletries) in evacuation shelters in Orlando, Florida. Gene Pavone, a volunteer who has worked on countless Red Cross response teams for the last 12 years, shared that his childhood inspired him to join, “If I can help just one person, it’s worth it. My family never had a lot of money when I was a kid, and people would help us out. Now that I’m able, I’m trying to return the favor and help others prepare for and recover from disasters.”
This September is National Preparedness Month, an annual opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of preparing for disasters and emergencies. Preparation reduces the likelihood of being caught off guard and increases the ability to minimize the impact of disasters and emergencies. The Red Cross is pivotal in providing support, resources, and supplies to individuals experiencing crisis, including safe shelter, hot meals, emotional support, financial assistance and other necessities. The Caterpillar Foundation participates in the Red Cross Annual Disaster Giving Program to ensure the organization can rapidly mobilize to provide essential relief where and when it is needed most. In addition, the Foundation matches Caterpillar employees’ and retirees’, as well as dealer employees’ contributions.
Here are five quick disaster preparedness tips from the American Red Cross. Visit redcross.org/prepare for more information about disaster preparedness – and how to weather the storm.
1. Prepare an emergency kit with supplies such as water, food, batteries, first aid supplies, a flashlight, and customized necessities for each household member.
2. Be informed about which disasters are likely to occur in your area and what you can do to prepare beforehand.
3. Learn about your household's risks and needs. Review local offerings, especially if you need assistance to evacuate or require assistive devices.
4. Make a plan for your household that covers where to go, how to stay connected and how to take care of yourself in an emergency. Practice this plan!
5. Download the American Red Cross Emergency App with useful tools and tips that help you prepare for an emergency.