Red Cross urges Utah preparedness during National Preparedness Month

Aug 30, 2023, 8:30 AM | Updated: Oct 18, 2023, 2:23 pm

This Martin Luther King, Jr. National Day of Service, Red Cross of Utah encourages Utahns to donate...

FILE: Red Cross volunteer Shelley Smedley loads up a Red Cross van in Murray on Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021, before heading to Louisiana to help in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida. (Kristin Murphy/Deseret News)

(Kristin Murphy/Deseret News)

In Utah, the American Red Cross is going into September’s National Preparedness Month with an essential message for those who call the West home. The organization wants to ensure Utahns are prepared no matter what may come this way.

Jeremiah Lafranca, Executive Director of the Greater Salt Lake Area chapter of the American Red Cross, said just this year alone, they have responded to 15 major weather slash climate-related disasters.

Some deployments have been farther away. Others have been closer. All have hit close to home in one way or another.

Lafranca said they have three volunteers heading down to Florida from Utah in case the expected Hurricane Idalia and associated storms hit.

“We’re gonna be looking at shelters, making sure we have those setup, that we have cots, that we have all the appropriate things we need for the shelters. Also, working to make sure we have food in place,” Lafranca said.

As we go into September’s National Preparedness Month, he said this is the time to check and double-check.

“I mean, when you look at what happened in Hawaii and how quick that was, people didn’t have warning. They didn’t have time. And so, that’s again something we deal with here. Especially wildfires. If we have a wildfire here and the wind is going, that can jump really fast and can go long distances,” said Lafranca.

While seasons change, he said all families should always have an evacuation plan with items that should be ready to go around the clock. Some of those items include an emergency kit, prescriptions, important documents, pet supplies, and cash.

“Cash is a good thing to have just in case, you know, any kind of electric problems or whatnot, and you’re not able to access money through your debit cards or credit cards,” Lafranca said.

When looking at Hawaii, he said they deployed several volunteers for three weeks. Lafranca said they are planning on deployments for longer periods of time, which could be as long as March of next year because of the devastation.

To learn more about getting involved, volunteering, and donating, you are encouraged to visit the American Red Cross at its website.

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Red Cross urges Utah preparedness during National Preparedness Month