March is Red Cross Month — which makes it a perfect time to examine how we can do a better job of preparing ourselves and our homes for emergencies. Here are 6 things that you can do right now.

1. Sign Up for a CPR and First Aid Course

In the event your child or someone you are with has a medical emergency, you may be the only person around who can help. Quick response is the key to survival. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), most often a person's heart stops because of an abnormal quivering called a ventricular fibrillation).

The AHA also reports that

  • "Effective bystander CPR provided immediately after sudden cardiac arrest can double or triple a victim's chance of survival."

If you have never taken a CPR class or haven't refreshed your skills in a long time, go to the Red Cross Take a Class site and search for one in your area.

2. Have a First Aid Kit Readily Available at Home and in Your Car

Sure, we all have a medicine cabinet stocked with band-aids, pain relievers, and hydrocortisone cream, but do we really have what we need to deliver first aid in the case of a real emergency? You can find a full list of what should be in your first aid kits here, or you can purchase a complete kit at the American Red Cross Store.

But above all, once you have your kits, make sure that they are easily accessible (like in your kitchen and under the passenger seat of your car) and that every family member knows where they can go to find it.

3. Make an Emergency Preparedness Kit, Have a Plan, and Be Informed.

Beyond a first aid kit, every family should also have an emergency preparedness kit that contains water, food, flashlights, batteries, and extra cash for starters. (For a full list of what should be in your kit, click here).

Next you need to call a family meeting and make a plan. Where will you meet if there is an emergency? Pick a spot outside of your home (in case of a fire), and pick a spot outside of your neighborhood (if there was an evacuation). Think about where you would go in an evacuation situation (a hotel, a friend's home, or to a family member) and make a plan for your pets too.

Make sure that you have a way to stay informed and reach all of the members of your family. A battery-powered radio should be in your emergency kit, and make sure that you have a car or solar charger for your cell phone.

4. All Family Members Should Carry an Emergency Contact Card

The emergency contact card should list contact information for each member of the family: home, work, school, and cell phone numbers, as well as the name and phone number of your children's pediatrician. This card should be carried in your wallet and a copy placed in each child's backpack.

5. Post the Number for Poison Control in Your Home Right Near the Phone

Here it is: 1-800-222-1222. Use your label maker and get it posted right now.

6. Change the Batteries in the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector batteries should be changed twice yearly, when you change your clocks. Ask yourself, did you remember to do this when we changed our clocks recently? If not, go and get those batteries now!

For more tips on how to be a Prepared Parent, visit the American Red Cross website.