Like scouts — we need to be prepared

Published 6:15 am Saturday, February 21, 2004

By By JAMES COLLINS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Volunteers from the Berrien County Chapter of the American Red Cross spoke at a Niles neighborhood watch meeting on Thursday night to discuss being prepared for possible emergencies.
Volunteers Marsha Laya and Ed Ward made a visit to the Silverbrook Manufactured Homes Community to give a presentation on the importance of disaster preparedness.
They laid out the five actions to take in the case of emergencies and the importance of being prepared in today's climate.
The five actions they went through were to make a plan, build a kit, get trained, volunteer and give blood.
A big part of Thursday's presentation involved building disaster kits.
Laya explained she had two kits, one in her car and a "grab and go" kit near the front door of her home.
She brought in the emergency kit from her car and presented it to members of the community.
It was simply a suitcase that contained the necessities of survival in case of an emergency such as a fire, tornado or any other disaster that may occur.
Laya's kit included water, food, a flashlight, batteries, an extra change of clothes, a first aid kit and even supplies for her dog.
She said each kit should contain the necessities, but also should be tailored to each individual.
She pointed out the importance of distinguishing between your needs and your wants when considering what to put in your kit.
Laya said most of the items that are included in the kits are things that can be found around the house.
She told the audience the kits do not have to be elaborate or cost a lot of money.
Laya also spent some time talking about the importance of volunteering.
She expressed the need of American Red Cross volunteers in Niles.
She said the Berrien County Red Cross has the material resources to assist Niles in the case of an emergency, but lacks the human resources.
While Niles may not have the volunteers as of yet, Laya said Niles Community Schools have been ahead of all of the county's school in terms of disaster preparedness.
Niles Schools will allow the American Red Cross to use their buildings in the case of a disaster and have been very cooperative with the organization.
For more information, contact the Berrien County Chapter of American Red Cross at 683-3180 or (269) 927-2288.