Red Cross shares important emergency kit tips during pandemic

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The wildfires out west and the busy hurricane season serve as important reminders to have emergency kits and plans in place at all times. And you do need to make some adjustments due to the pandemic.

While many people are working and learning at home, Red Cross volunteers continue going into disaster zones to help communities. But COVID-19 has forced changes beyond social distancing, wearing masks and checking temperatures.

"If we have to shelter, and we are sheltering, we're doing it in hotels versus large gymnasiums. And then we're just really educating individuals, preparing meals differently and just following all those safety precautions," explained Guy Triano, CEO of Southeastern Pennsylvania Region of the American Red Cross .

Families need to adjust their plans, too.

"Thinking about COVID-19 and the precautions during emergency preparedness is extremely critical," he said.

You may have dipped into your emergency kits during quarantine, so replenish items and add face masks, a thermometer, disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer.

"Also, make sure you have two different kinds of kits. You have a stay-at-home kit in case you have to hunker down in your house and also an evacuation kit," he said.

Include 30 days' worth of necessary prescription medications. Also reassess your evacuation strategy.

"You may have planned to go to your parents, but if they're elderly or in a vulnerable group, you may not be able to do that," said Mary Farrell of Consumer Reports.

Perhaps you pod with siblings or friends instead. Have those discussions and put those plans together now.

"I think the main thing is keeping yourself safe and keeping whoever you're staying with safe," she said.

The Red Cross has a free app you can download to help you prepare for any emergency and build those kits.
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