NEW PHILADELPHIA -- The recent power outages that affected thousands of residents in Carroll, Harrison and Tuscarawas county areas reminds us that the unexpected can happen at any time.

"While we can't control what happens, we can control how we prepare for and respond to it," said Chad Conrad, Red Cross executive director. "Taking action ahead of time to prepare can help us respond better, faster, and safer."

For area residents who have disaster-related needs, please contact the Red Cross at 330-343-8633.

We are encouraging residents to join us in helping to create a more prepared community by taking three simple actions to be ready for future disasters and severe weather emergencies:

Get a kit -- A disaster supplies kit should include: Clothing and bedding, pet supplies, cash and coins, sanitary supplies, important papers and contact information, and a map

Make a plan -- Everyone needs to know what to do, where to go and who to contact in case an emergency happens.

Be informed -- Identify how local authorities will notify you during a disaster and how you will get important information, whether through local radio, television or NOAA weather radio stations or channels

Taking these basic preparedness actions can help you prepare for a variety of disasters, from a power outage to massive flooding that we saw last year.

To help you, we've created a free online education module at www.redcross.org/BeRedCrossReady.

It includes a downloadable emergency preparedness kit shopping list, emergency contact card and instructions for creating a family communication plan.

If you've been putting off getting prepared, now is the time to do something about it.

For information or to learn how to volunteer, call 330-343-8633 or email at info@mlcredcross.org