Are you “Safe and Well?”

Shawna Collins 1

Imagine that a loved one was in the middle of the Oklahoma tornadoes and you were unable to get in contact with them to know they were alright. Unfortunately, this was a reality for many. During a disaster, there is nothing more unsettling than not knowing if your family member or friend is okay. Power and phone lines may be down and phone signals lost. Fortunately, the American Red Cross provides a solution to this problem called Safe and Well. This website allows you to register yourself on the site, so that at a click of a button, your family and friends can be notified that you are “safe and well” during a disaster. Concerned family and friends can search the list of those who have registered themselves as “safe and well” by clicking on the”Search Registrants” button. The results of a successful search will display a loved one’s first name, last name and a brief message.

Shawna Collins is a Dayton Red Cross volunteer who used this website during the devastating Oklahoma tornadoes. She was not able to reach her cousin in Oklahoma by phone, so she immediately thought to check the website. Although Shawna’s cousin was not registered, she did find out her cousin was okay after two days. Shawna was deployed to Oklahoma on June 5 and assigned as a Casework Supervisor.

Shawna is an instructor for Safe and Well and teaches Red Cross volunteers how to help others register on the website. She also teaches emergency personnel to submit a form to national headquarters to a Safe and Well field info team if a family needs to find someone immediately for medical purposes during a disaster. A team will then search for that person.

Shawna has a background in amateur radio, which has contributed immensely to the Safe and Well aspect of the Red Cross.   Amateur radio can play a role in Safe and Well by communicating with people during a disaster when power, Internet and phones are not working.  The Red Cross can use amateur radio operators to ask if people need to register on Safe and Well, who then relay that information on their radios to get them registered.  This provides people without access to communications during a disaster a way to reach out to their loved ones and let them know they are “safe and well.”

To learn more, go to http://safeandwell.communityos.org/cms/index.php. Such a simple action can bring great peace of mind to your family and friends during a disaster.

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