Canadian Red Cross offices closed in Maritimes, but disaster teams ready

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With blizzard and other severe weather conditions including coastal storm surge expected in many areas of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and southern New Brunswick today, the Canadian Red Cross is urging Maritimers to take the weather’s risk seriously.

The agency’s offices are closed today throughout Nova Scotia, south-central New Brunswick and P.E.I., but it says disaster teams remain available to assist if needed.

Planning is key ahead of storms like today's, the Red Cross says.  

"While everyone knows having a household emergency plan, reviewing and practicing it regularly is a good idea, in our experience few actually do so," Rhonda Kenney, Atlantic director of disaster management with the Red Cross, said in a news release. "We also urge every household to have an emergency kit of items to safely sustain themselves for at least 72 hours if they must shelter at home without access to outside help, or they could take with them if required to evacuate.”

What should be in a household's emergency kit depends on their circumstances. Some common items include:

• a sufficient supply of bottled  water for at least 72 hours

• non-perishable food. (If in cans, include a manual (non-electric) can opener)

• wind-up or battery-powered radio and flashlight

• first aid kit

• some basic repair tools

• an extra key for home and automobile

• essential medications and personal-care needs such as for infants, seniors or those with mobility and other challenges.

• Food and other pet essentials

• Cash in small bills since during power outages, ATMs, credit and debit functions are unavailable.

• Copies of essential ID, insurance policy numbers and contacts

• A list of family, business and medical emergency contacts

Helpful tips and guides on family emergency and disaster preparedness are online at redcross.ca/BeReady.

For families on Facebook, there's an app they can use to test their level of emergency preparedness and determine what steps they should take to improve. Visit facebook.com/canadianredcross  and click the Think Ahead, Be Prepared icon.

Although Canadian Red Cross offices are closed for routine services like free loans of wheelchairs and other health mobility aids or first aid training courses, its network of about 700 trained disaster volunteers across the Maritimes remain available to support civic authorities should the need arise, such as equipping and staffing comfort, reception or evacuation centres.

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