ABOVE PHOTO: Michael Kelly-Zufelt, Manager of Community Resiliency for the American Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania, briefs PHA resident leaders on emergency preparedness. The Red Cross is conducting emergency preparedness training at 16 housing authority sites. Housing authority officials want to make residents aware of what they can do to prepare for the unexpected.
The Philadelphia Housing Authority and the American Red Cross are hosting emergency preparedness workshops at PHA sites this week as part of Emergency Preparedness Month.
“Natural disasters and other emergencies can occur anywhere. Our residents need to be prepared to take charge when the unexpected strikes,” said Kelvin Jeremiah, PHA’s Interim Executive Director. “While PHA has always done its best to assist residents during emergencies, they must be able to help themselves until assistance arrives.”
Michael Kiley-Zufelt, Manager of Community Resiliency for the American Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania, briefed resident leaders on the emergency preparedness workshops last week. He said many people fail to be prepared because there is lots of denial about disasters.
“[People think that disasters are] things that happen in other places,” he said. “They’re things that happen to other people. And, if it does happen, it’s not going to be that bad.”
The fact is that residential fires are the most common disaster in the United States and they cause the most disaster-related deaths, too. In southeastern Pennsylvania, 92 percent of the disasters reported are single family fires.
PHA’s resident leaders were enthusiastic about the training program.
“I think it’s a very good idea because many residents are not aware of what is actually needed, especially our seniors,” said Christine Boyd, President of the Harrison Plaza Resident Council. “They are on medication and some are disabled. They need all of this [planning] in place, so if they have to escape, they have everything ready at the door or behind the sofa.”
Ms. Boyd also believes the training might also present an opportunity for residents to take charge, do fundraising on their own, and buy emergency supplies.
Red Cross training emphasizes 3 things: get a kit, make a plan, and be informed. During the workshops, residents will learn what items should be in a disaster supply kit, how to plan an escape from their homes or stay in place, and where to get emergency information. The training also encourages participants to learn CPR, first aid, and use of a defibrillator when a person’s heart stops beating.
There will be training at 16 PHA senior sites beginning on September 18. For times and locations, visit pha.phila.gov or call 215-684-5300.