By PAULETTE ARCHER
OSCAR Programme Leader

This month the New Zealand Red Cross is running their Good and Ready emergency preparedness campaign.

The campaign is all about being ready when disaster strikes, and with two facilities now officially set up as Civil Defence Centres and many staff trained in first aid, the YMCA is playing its part.

One Civil Defence Centre is the main YMCA campus, in the old St George's School building at 125 Grey St. The other is Camp Raukawa on State Highway 4, south of Raetihi. These centres form part of a network of Civil Defence Centres throughout our the city, region and the country. In a state of emergency Civil Defence and the Red Cross use Civil Defence Centres to provide shelter, food and other essential services to people who can't return to their homes.

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Knowing where the nearest Civil Defence Centres to your home and place of work are is an important part of being ready in an emergency, but what else can you do to get ready to get you and your family through?

Only about 25 per cent of New Zealand homes are prepared for an emergency with supplies including 3L of water per person for three days, food, torches and an emergency medical kit all stored in a safe, accessible location. If you don't have a kit, or if you haven't updated it in a while, you can access a full list of recommended supplies through the Civil Defence website - www.getthru.govt.nz . Many of the things you need might already be in your house, so take some time to get them together and write a list of things you need to buy to complete your kit. Clean, empty fruit juice or soft drink bottles can be great for storing water, but don't use milk cartons as the milk residue can contaminate the water.

It's also a good idea to have copies of important documents somewhere safe, or even photographed and saved to your phone. Think about your bank account and insurance details, driver's licence and passport, birth certificates, precious photographs and other valuable information.

Finally, have a plan for how you'll get the family back together if a disaster happens during the day. Schools, Early Childhood Centres, and After School Care programmes will continue to look after your children in an emergency, but anyone who comes to collect them will need to be registered as someone who has your permission to do so. You can register emergency contacts by calling your child's school or daycare and letting them know who to put on the list, and it's a good idea to list at least two or three emergency contacts.

Remember that in an emergency the phones might not be working, so for teenagers and adults have an agreed meeting place, and a back-up plan if the first location isn't safe or can't be accessed.

After the Canterbury Earthquake in 2011 many workers found themselves stranded in the open, having to walk long distances home or to Civil Defence centres. Keeping a pair of walking shoes, a drink bottle, and a jersey or jacket handy at work can make it a lot easier to get where you need to go.

Finally, in an emergency tune your radio to Whanganui's Brian FM on 91.2FM for the most up-to-date information broadcast direct from the Civil Defence Emergency Management Centre.

Want more information on what to do in an emergency? Visit the Civil Defence 'Get Thru' website www.getthru.govt.nz or the Red Cross www.redcross.org.nz