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Ready or Not #4: Emergency Signal Kit

Updated: Dec 31, 2022

Whew! Ok, everything has settled down now. Thanks to the shoes, gloves, whistle, and flashlight kit that was next to everyone’s bed, everybody got out safe and without any serious injuries and now the earthquake aftershocks have stopped. Thank goodness that you got your water stored because the local water source has been disrupted (repeat after me, AGAIN: two gallons of water a day, per person, for a two week period.)

CERT and 3 Step (we’ll get into those programs later) have activated and are going around helping those in need. Everything is OK at your house (other than you are shaken up a bit), but no one got seriously hurt. CERT team members and other emergency personnel are out going door to door to see if anyone needs help to narrow down the neediest and those with life threatening injuries.

Time is of the essence. How do you let the emergency volunteers know that they don’t need to take the time to go to your house and look for injured people? You don’t want to stay at your house to wait to tell them. You and your family want to head down to the designated local emergency gathering place to see what your leaders need you to do next. But you want people to know you are OK — to skip your house and go on to the next emergency.

Time for another kit. We will call this one the “Emergency Signal Kit” It is really quite simple and very ingenious and uses a color code system that anyone who drives will understand. Get three large ribbons or sheets of paper: red, yellow and green. The paper should be 8 1/2x11 to post in your front window, and the ribbon needs to be a minimum of 2″ wide and about 20″ to 24″ long (they need to be long enough to tie around your door handle and to be easily seen from the road.)

In an emergency, use the following descriptions to decide which paper to post in the window or which ribbon to tie to the door:

GREEN: There are no serious injuries. IMPORTANT: If you evacuate your home, please tie a large white ribbon, or any white article, to your door after everyone has evacuated. (If you are worried about looting, you don’t have to do this, but make sure that the green ribbon is still in place)

YELLOW: There is an individual present who will need medical attention eventually, but the injury is not life threatening.

RED: An individual has been fatally injured or needs immediate emergency medical attention. IF YOU DISPLAY THE RED RIBBON, HELP WILL COME AS SOON AS AN EMERGENCY VOLUNTEER IS ABLE TO GET TO YOUR HOME.

This is why it is so important to display the correct color on your door immediately after a community wide disaster. If emergency personnel have to stop at EVERYONE’S house, instead of just the houses that have an extreme need, they are losing precious time to help those who really need help. If your house does not display a colored ribbon, the emergency personnel can only assume that someone in the house needs help and wasn’t able to put a ribbon on the door. In talking to those who are in emergency volunteer organizations, they have stated that their goal is to help as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time possible, and they can only do that with your help.

You don’t have to use ribbons, you can use an appropriate colored T-shirt, but who wants to go looking for a shirt to tie to the door. An eagle scout made a ribbon kit for each house in my community. I have taken my kit and put it in a one gallon plastic bag and put it on a nail just on the inside of my coat closet, near the front door. It is easy to access and even the kids know where it is and what to do with it.


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