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In case of emergency

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Do you have a family emergency plan?

If your home caught on fire, would you know what to do? Would your children? If you started choking, could your child call 9-1-1 for you?

According to Ruben Brown of the Metropolitan Atlanta Chapter of the American Red Cross, the Red Cross responded to 88 disasters in Gwinnett County in 2006 – mostly house and apartment fires. In 2007, there were more than 300 reported apartment fires and more than 860 reported single family home fires, according to Thomas Rutledge, spokesperson for the Gwinnett Co. Fire Department. The Red Cross offers these tips in making an emergency plan for your family.

Talk to your family
Talk to your family about disasters that can happen where you live. Children as young as five can begin to learn the basic concepts of disaster preparedness, Brown says.

Plan ahead
Your family should choose two places to meet after a disaster. One location should be outside, but near your home, in case of sudden emergencies like a fire. Consider the mailbox or an outside play set as your meeting place. The second location should be outside your neighborhood if the emergency requires you to vacate the area.

Establish a contact person for all family members to call when there is a disaster. Make sure the person lives far enough away that they too would not be affected by the disaster.

Prepare for your pets. If the home or neighborhood is unsafe for humans, it is also unsafe for animals.

Educate yourself
Learn how to use the fire extinguisher, and have every adult in the household familiar with how the utilities can be turned off.

Practice, practice, practice
Remember the fire drills in school? Practice your emergency evacuation plan at least twice a year. "While people think it”s important to prepare for a disaster, very few have actually taken the steps it takes to prepare,"  Brown says. 

Detailed information on emergency plans can be found on the American Red Cross web site at www.redcross.org, or call 404-876-3302 for the Northeaster District Office. This office serves Gwinnett County, and residents can make an appointment to pick up disaster preparedness pamphlets.