American Red Cross Wants You to ‘Do More Than Cross Your Fingers’ to Prepare for Emergencies

Sept. 4, 2009
A new survey shows that while about half of Americans have experienced a significant emergency, many people still are not ready for the unexpected because they do not know what to do. In fact, only about 12 percent of Americans are ready for an emergency.

To help people take needed preparedness steps, the American Red Cross is launching a new Do More Than Cross Your Fingers public awareness campaign. The new campaign, which features actress Jamie Lee Curtis as a spokesperson, seeks to promote personal preparedness and includes an interactive Web site that guides visitors through user-friendly emergency preparedness games and activities.

“We all cross our fingers for luck, but when we're facing life’s emergencies, it’s easy to do a little more,” said Curtis, who is a longtime advocate of preparedness and member of the American Red Cross Celebrity Cabinet.

“People know how important it is to be ready for an emergency, but they often don’t prepare because it’s too daunting, they don’t know where to start or they do not have the time,” said Scott Conner, Red Cross senior vice president for Preparedness and Health and Safety Services. “This campaign was created to give people an easy starting point so they can feel more confident about the safety of their loved ones in an emergency.”

A Red Cross survey conducted in late July and early August showed that 51 percent of Americans have experienced at least one emergency situation where they lost utilities for at least 3 days, had to evacuate, could not return home or communicate with family members or had to provide first aid to others.

Although 89 percent of those surveyed believe it is important to be prepared for emergencies, far fewer are actually taking the steps necessary to prepare. The survey showed that while 80 percent of Americans had taken at least one key preparedness step, only about 12 percent of Americans are reasonably prepared for a disaster, as recommended by the Red Cross.

The Red Cross urges people to get a kit, make a plan and be informed, which can include identifying an out-of-town contact, determining a meeting place, practicing their emergency plan and completing first aid and CPR/AED training.

The Red Cross survey also found that 47 percent of Americans have assembled an emergency kit, 45 percent have chosen an out-of-town contact and less than one in four (24 percent) have practiced their emergency plan.

The Do More Web site features an online video of Curtis showing visitors how she personalizes her emergency kit. Like Curtis, visitors can share how they personalize their kit with others. An interactive game also allows visitors to create a customized list of emergency kit items based on their own needs.

The campaign coincides with National Preparedness Month, an annual observance sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

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