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Digital TV Transition Coming Soon; Update Preparedness Plans
Date:6/8/2009

Editorial note: Call (202) 303-5551 to speak with an American Red Cross spokesperson on the ground.

WASHINGTON, June 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The upcoming transition from analog to digital television signals will have a real effect on the disaster preparedness plans of many people who have relied on small portable televisions with antennas for emergency communications in a disaster, and the American Red Cross urges you to update your preparedness plans and materials.

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Congress has mandated June 12 as the last day for television stations to broadcast in analog format and the first day for the switch to digital broadcasting. If you don't have a television capable of receiving a digital signal or if you rely on an antenna for reception (not pay television, cable, or satellite service), you will need to act now and make the changes necessary to make sure you will be able to access local television stations. This access is especially crucial during a disaster, when many people in the past have used battery operated televisions with an antenna to get disaster news.

"The change from analog to digital television signal is set to take place at the end of this week," said Scott Conner, Senior Vice President, Preparedness and Health and Safety, "If you have used a battery-operated TV in the past to get disaster news, it is urgent that you make the necessary changes now."

The federal government has set up a web site to answer questions and help families transition to the new digital format.

In addition to updating your televisions, the Red Cross offers the following action steps to help prepare for disasters:

Build a kit you can grab should disaster strike. Stow your supplies in an easy-to-carry emergency preparedness kit you can use at home or take with you if you have to evacuate. Don't forget the special needs of family members (babies, elderly, and pets) and supplement your kit with items that fit everyone's needs.

Make a plan. Talk to your family about how to respond to emergencies that are most likely to happen where you live, in school, at work. Give each household member responsibilities and plan as a team. Choose at out-of-area emergency contact person. Select two places to meet -- outside your home in a sudden emergency such as a fire, and outside your neighborhood in case you cannot return home or are asked to evacuate.

Be informed. Know what emergencies may occur in your area, from a home fire or medical emergency to a community-wide event like an earthquake or flood. Make sure at least one member of your household is trained in first aid and CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) and knows how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED).

Disaster can strike quickly and without warning. For more information on how to be Red Cross Ready, and to learn what to do in different disasters such as hurricanes, wildfires, and floods visit www.redcross.org.

Help people affected by disasters by donating to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. On those rare occasions when donations exceed Red Cross expenses for a specific disaster, contributions are used to prepare for and serve victims of other disasters. Your gift enables the Red Cross to provide shelter, food, counseling and other assistance to victims of all disasters. Call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Contributions to the Disaster Relief Fund may be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, D.C., 20013. Internet users can make a secure online contribution by visiting www.redcross.org.


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SOURCE American Red Cross
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