Monday, December 20, 2010

How to Be Red Cross Ready for Rare Celestial Events and Their Potentially Dire Consequences

This Tuesday December 21 marks the first time in 456 years that the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, coincides with a full lunar eclipse. Now I’m not saying this is ominous. Absolutely not. It’s just an exceedingly rare set of events that use to terrify primitive peoples and may be sending out some funky cosmic energy. I’m sure there are tons of movies and books that start with these circumstances and don’t end in tears. Right? Still, doesn’t hurt to be prepared.

Just in case Tuesday morning's events activate any latent zombies, it might be helpful to have that two week supply of emergency food and water stocked up at home. The Red Cross recommends storing easy to prepare nonperishable foods and one gallon of water per person per day for each member of your family. Trust me, when your neighbors are fighting their way through the zombie hoards to get to the supermarket you will be glad you had the foresight to stock up!

Now I know what you’re thinking. What if the covens of flying solstice/eclipse vampires manage to get themselves tangled in power lines and we lose electricity? Well, then you’ll be glad you have a complete disaster supply kit because it will have a battery powered/hand crank radio to receive important updates from whatever interim government emerges after the initial crisis. Also make sure you have plenty of flashlights and batteries. Avoid using candles at all costs! Accidents happen, and if a candle is left unattended or gets knocked over by a pet or a child you could experience a house fire. We at the Red Cross see a spike in the numbers of home fires we are called to respond to whenever there are power outages. While fire may be good for scaring off Frankenstein’s monster, it’s going to draw the zombies and vampires right to you.

You might not be on board with the whole monster threat thing. Well okay realist, let’s talk about a chain reaction of cataclysmic natural disasters. After initially sheltering in your home from the freak meteor strikes and tornadoes, you hear the interim government announce on your battery powered radio that a giant mega volcano has formed out in Tinley Park. Your area is in the projected hot zone for the imminent eruption so it's time to evacuate north and take shelter with our friendly neighbors in Wisconsin. You are ready to go within minutes because YOU have prepared your disaster supply go-kit. It contains copies of important papers, a 7 day supply of any medications you may need, personal hygiene items, family and emergency contact information, emergency blankets, maps of your area, and extra cash (remember the vampires brought down the power so there are no functioning ATMs!). Personalize your kit by thinking about each member of your household and their unique needs.

Even if the Tuesday solstice/eclipse turns out to be nothing (keep dreaming optimist!) the preparations you have made will be useful for more mundane emergency situations like winter snow storms, floods, pandemic flu, etc. And whatever the situation, your friends at the Chicago Red Cross will always be there to help. For more information about disaster supply kits and creating an emergency family plan, visit us at

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