Editor’s note: Brigette Williams is the regional director of communications for the American Red Cross serving Arkansas and Oklahoma.
September shifts our attention to two of Arkansas’ favorite pastimes – football and futbol aka soccer.
For the American Red Cross, it reminds us to remind you that it’s National Preparedness Month. The days are set aside to start or improve your readiness for natural and man-made incidents big or small.
So, what better time for you to assess your travel readiness to ensure your comfort as you journey to and from football stadiums and fields near and far to be ready for the unexpected.
The first step is to respect the changing nature of Arkansas weather. Look no farther than the University of Arkansas and its response to severe weather. Without hesitation, as millions of captivated viewers watch around the country, Arkansas Razorback games are halted and the Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium emptied of football players, coaches and more than 80,000 fans as severe storms are more than half an hour away from Fayetteville. Why?
UA officials understand if you can hear thunder you could be struck by lightning – safe shelter is needed quickly. Likewise, once the storm moves through, an additional 30 minutes is allowed to pass before fans are allowed back into the stadium. It may prolong the game, but it’s safety first, since there are more games to cheer for.
RED CROSS EMERGENCY APP
You can easily be just as weather aware and prepared whether you’re in Jonesboro, Pine Bluff or in Dallas at a Cowboys game with the American Red Cross Emergency app.
A quick download from your iPhone or Android app store and you can select to receive alerts for more than 30 watches and warnings from severe storms, tornadoes and floods to winter weather.
The second step is to know weather and road conditions along your trip’s route from start to finish. The Red Cross Emergency app will keep you informed on weather. A check with the Arkansas Transportation & Highway Department on social media and I Drive Arkansas (www.idrivearkansas.com) will keep you current on road closings and detours due to construction or weather conditions.
With confidence your vehicle is road ready, fill up the gas tank and keep it no less than half filled. Between the possibility of an accident clogging traffic for hours or a need to make a lengthy detour, that’s one less worry of how long you can run the car, especially if temperatures require air conditioning or heat, an ample gas supply is a necessity.
A phone charger keeps you fully powered to talk as much as you like, rather than believing the 20% power notification will last you for the hour it may take you to reach your destination. A tip to conserve your power is to text; it uses less energy. Of course, restrict texting until you’ve pulled off the road or you have a buddy who’ll text for you.
While we all live by our GPS, keep a paper map handy. We’ve all experienced missed directions at the end of a journey via GPS directions. An old-fashioned paper map can be helpful.
ALWAYS INCLUDE A FIRST-AID KIT
The third step – if you or your passengers are on timed medication, take it with you. A first-aid kit should always be in your car. A pack of bottled water and non-perishable snacks can come in handy, too.
If you travel with pets, remember to pack supplies for them. Need ideas? Check out the Red Cross Pet First Aid app. It includes tips on the top emergencies for dogs and cats, plus veterinarians and pet-friendly hotels across the country.
A few easy steps can ensure an enjoyable football travel season. For more information on how to increase your disaster preparedness, visit redcross.org/Arkansas; Twitter @ArkRedCross, Facebook.com/AmericanRedCrossArkansas.