2 minute read

The Furlough List

This post comes to us from Red Cross staff member, Jana Sweeny

My husband is a federal employee as are many of our neighbors and friends. I have watched this past week as they used their unexpected time at home to repair fences, clean out their closets, work in their yards, clean their carpets, paint their doors and do the myriad of things that get pushed to the bottom of the to-do list with busy work and family schedules. Last night I was even invited to a clothing swap party that one of my friends hosted. It was a great way to clean out the closet, enjoy each others company, and get some “new” clothes, without spending money.

Though they would all prefer to be at work and spend part of their day worrying over work projects left in the middle, deadlines that have passed and conferences that are looming, they are using this time to take care of their families, their homes and their neighborhoods.

This morning I was reading an article in the Washington Post about a Silver Spring family’s furlough activities, which included building their disaster kit. I work for the Red Cross and have a disaster kit, but like many, this year I used the water for a neighborhood party and haven’t bothered to replace it. I have batteries, but haven’t checked to see if they are the ones that fit the most recent flashlight collection. I know the importance of being prepared, but sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day to make it happen. So for the federal families that have more time on their hands than they expected to this week and want to dust off their family preparedness plans here are some tips.

• Every household should create or update their emergency preparedness plan. The plan should include ways to contact one another and two predetermined places to meet – one near the home in case of a sudden emergency like a fire, and one outside the neighborhood in case circumstances prevent people from returning home.

• You can use the ‘Make a Plan’ feature in the free Red Cross mobile apps to create your plan and then share it with your loved ones. The apps also provide information on what to do before, during and after emergencies.

• Another step to get your household ready is to build an emergency kit. Use a container that is easy to carry so you can use it at home or take it with you if you need to evacuate. It should contain a three-day supply of water (one gallon, per person, per day), nonperishable food, a flashlight, battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra batteries, a first aid kit, a 7-day supply of medications, a multi-purpose tool, sanitation and personal hygiene items and copies of important personal documents. You may already have many of these items around the house, but it’s good to gather them together in one place.

My thoughts are with all who are in this current state of limbo of not knowing when your routine will get back to normal, how many emails you will be facing when you go back and when the next paycheck is coming. I know how unnerving it is. I am proud of our Federal workforce and all that you do and I am even more proud to call you my family, friends and neighbors. Hang in there!