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Preparing For A Disaster

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Stacey Bonner, Family Services Coordinator, met with Christy DeBusk, Education and Partnership Program Manager at American Red Cross, about what you and your family can do to be prepared for any type of emergency.

View American Red Cross Plan and Prepare Site ​

Begin Transcript

Stacey Bonner:        Welcome to this edition of the Vanderbilt University Health and Wellness Wellcast.  I am Stacey Bonner with the Child and Family Center.

Families can cope with disaster by preparing in advance and working together as a team.  Christy DeBusk, education and partnership program manager at the American Red Cross has joined me to discuss what you and your family can do to be prepared for any type of emergency.  Christy, why is it important to be prepared for an emergency?

Christy DeBusk:       Well, there are several different types of emergencies and like you have mentioned also disasters.

Stacey Bonner:        Um-hum.

Christy DeBusk:       So, our main goal here at the American Red Cross is to make sure that you and your family and also the community is personally prepared for any types of events.  The number one disaster that everybody faces across the country is home fires.

Stacey Bonner:        Oh!  Um-hum.

Christy DeBusk:       So, having a kit, it would be great, but having that preparedness plan is even more crucial.

Stacey Bonner:        What should be in a plan for a home fire?  How should you prepare yourself from a home fire?

Christy DeBusk:       Okay, for a home fire you need to have at least a designated area outside the home where everybody is going to meet, also have relatives, a phone call or phone tree, something where kids and neighbors can be able to contact one another as well.  Other information, what can be the step for being personally prepared specific to fires can be located on our website under preparedness, and they will actually have one in detail about fire.

Stacey Bonner:        And I have heard before with preparing for a fire just like kids do in school, do you practice it once a month or how often should you practice in case there was a fire?

Christy DeBusk:       We tend to tell people to practice all types of personal preparedness safety goal or their plan to check their kits when the times change or when they actually check their batteries for their smoke alarm, just go through the whole plan.

Stacey Bonner:        We kind of mentioned disaster kits as well.  What is a disaster kit and what should you have in it?

Christy DeBusk:       There are several types of disaster kits out there.  If you want one more generic, you can go and purchase one from lot of different companies pre-made.  You don’t have to worry about it.  It’s got it all preset.  You can have individual personal disaster kits that you make.  You can have car disaster kit.  You can have a home disaster kit.  Also, a pet kit, sometimes you forget about pets.

Stacey Bonner:        Um-hum.

Christy DeBusk:       And then you can have your children actually make their own as well.

Stacey Bonner:        Is there anything specifically that should be in there?

Christy DeBusk:       Yeah, there is a laundry list of things that each person should have, but basically, there are two types of kits.  There is the 72-hour kit that’s an evacuation.  You got to take your family and go, and that kit has basically the same amount of documents and things like that needed but more for a 3-day period.  And then you have an official home kit so you have to shelter in place or things like that, that’s going to have more drawn out versions of that 72-hour kit.  And the most thing that people forget is water.  It’s a gallon per person per day.  So, you are talking about 3 gallons if you have a family of three per day and then also a gallon for your pets as well, per pet.  There is a lot of water just to think about.  So, having that stocked and ready to go, not necessarily, you know, 18 gallons in a car.

Stacey Bonner:        Right.

Christy DeBusk:       But just something ready to pick up and go.  Also, people forget that not only batteries and flashlights and a weather radio, but it is good to have a cell phone with chargers and especially emergency contact information.  What we talk about is having a plan outside of that designated spot.

Stacey Bonner:        Um-hum.

Christy DeBusk:       So, if I have a family member that lives in Colorado, they are a part of my plan.  So, all the resources and documents and birth certificates things like that I’ve scanned in or I’ve sent them physical copies, so they can have hard copies as well if something happens to our computer or things like that.  You can also email it to yourself.  All of your documents even your planned contact information and you can access that whenever needed.

Stacey Bonner:        Anywhere.

Christy DeBusk:       There is a lot of technology and especially providing those kinds of resources and tools during a disaster, you might think, oh my goodness, my house burned down, there went all my documents, but they are actually saved in somewhere in your e-mail or actually a family member in another state could have that to make sure that you share your plans together, but also it engages your whole family.  So, no matter where they are, you can talk about having discussions, okay no matter mother lives in Florida and I am in Tennessee and maybe my uncle is in Maine, but we can all have that kind of conversation together and have a family plan.

Stacey Bonner:        You talked about some of the things that should go in a kit, I know you talked about the water and batteries and stuff like that.  Now, how often should you check those things?  Is it same thing with the battery change in the battery in the smoke detector?

Christy DeBusk:       You got it.  Normally, it’s one Sunday that they do the daylight saving times.  So, we just say take that Sunday and just prepare your family, your home, or everything.  That means driving evacuation route if you live in areas that might have hurricane evacuations or maybe driving your potential route from school to work or things like that because disasters happen anytime.

Stacey Bonner:        Right.

Christy DeBusk:       So, you got to have a plan, what if I am at work and my kids are at school or what if they are at home and things like that.  So, make sure that you have thought of every type of area possible.  And if you think you forgot something, like I said, under preparedness, we have link specifically to how to prepare your home, your family, your community, your business, and I do believe your school as well.  So, there is a lot of options if you think you forgot something, we have plenty of checklist.

Stacey Bonner:        You mentioned a lot of different things that’s on the American Red Cross website.  Can you give us the material that’s on there that we can get and also the website?

Christy DeBusk:       Every type of disaster that you can think of, whether it’s natural or man-made, there are printouts, handouts, and videos on  So, when you go to, go to the bottom, it will say preparedness, and underneath there you will have prepare your home, your family, your schools, or your business.  And then, it says additional resources.  Under those additional resources, you can learn about biological warfare or you can learn about a lot of different things, volcanoes and landslides.  It’s not just what we have here in the state.  And from there, I mean, it’s once you click something, if you are interested specifically in house fires, it’s going to name anything and everything you would ever want to know about that and where you get them locally and things like that.

Stacey Bonner:        Thank you Christy.

Christy DeBusk:       You are welcome.

Stacey Bonner:        Thanks for listening.  Please feel free to leave us any comments on this Wellcast by clicking the “Add New Comment” link at the bottom of this page.  If you have a story suggestion, please email us at or you can use the “Contact Us” link on our website at

— end of recording (07:10) —

Posted on Friday, August 30, 2013 in Child and Family Center, Wellcasts and tagged ,


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