Community Disaster Resilience Network helps vulnerable residents prepare for emergencies

Summertime in the Kansas City region always brings an increased risk of flooding, severe thunderstorms, tornadoes and extreme heat. Planning and preparing for these types of emergencies can be challenging for anyone, but it’s especially important for our most vulnerable populations.

Young children and older adults can be particularly susceptible to extreme heat. For example, did you know that most heat-related health problems are found in people over age 50? And that children’s body temperatures can rise three to five times as fast as an adult’s?

The Community Disaster Resilience Network (CDRN) is working to raise awareness of risks like these and many others and share proactive actions that people can take to be prepared. CDRN, a network of organizations that serve vulnerable populations, was created to convene community service providers to share best practices, reach common goals, promote emergency planning and training and share resources to increase resilience for their agencies and clients before, during and after disasters.

Through targeted outreach, CDRN members hope to save lives by encouraging people to know their risks and be prepared. The summer outreach campaign, currently underway, includes suggestions such as:

  • If you have parents or grandparents in a long-term care facility, find out what plans they have to protect residents if the air conditioning fails or power goes out.
  • Make sure children playing outdoors use sunscreen, drink plenty of water and take breaks.
  • Learn the symptoms of excessive heat exposure and be prepared. Keep cold compresses in your emergency supply kit.
  • Never, ever leave children alone in a hot car.

MARC is currently coordinating a social media campaign with these and other messages. Local governments and civic organizations are encouraged to help spread the word using hashtags #BeattheHeat and #KC Ready.

While children and older adults may be most vulnerable to extreme heat, CDRN partners work to help a broad range of vulnerable populations prepare for all types of emergencies. Target audiences include people with disabilities, those with limited English proficiency, the economically disadvantaged and culturally diverse faith communities.

In the coming months, CDRN outreach messages will expand to include back-to-school tips and preparing for severe winter weather, as well as general guidance on making a plan, having a supply kit and knowing what to do in emergencies. More resources are available online at PrepareMetroKC.org. For more information about CDRN, contact Sara Shirk, sshirk@marc.org or 816-701-8384.