The shelter manager should be someone familiar with the building to be used: its size, facilities, and day-to-day level of supplies. If the shelter is a school, the principal or a designated member of his staff may serve under agreements in effect between the school board and the Red Cross. Authorization for use of the school as a shelter should be made through normal school district channels.
The regular staff working in the building—faculty as well as office, cafeteria, and maintenance staff—should be the primary resource for personnel to operate the shelter, as they have the most complete knowledge of the facility and can best safeguard against damage and misuse.
The shelter manager may expect full support from the chapter to provide needed equipment, supplies, and additional staff. The Red Cross will pay for food and other supplies on hand that are used in the shelter as well as additional supplies required.
Mass Care shelters are generally intended to operate for a limited time—one to four days. In most instances, shelter residents are able to return to their homes within a short time or to locate other housing. The remaining families can be assisted by Family Service workers in solving this problem.
While in operation, the shelter must meet a multitude of human
needs both physical and psychological under adverse conditions. The young, old,
ill, employed, and unemployed all have special needs to be met through
recreation, medical services, transportation, maintenance, and social work
services available through the shelter.
Such preparedness comprises—
1. Developing a plan for the operation of the buildings, to
include the following:
5. Order supplies and equipment from Red Cross disaster
headquarters and report any need for support such as medical services.
6. Recruit additional personnel. (Disaster victims in the shelter may be recruited.)
7. Begin feeding beverages and snacks as soon as the shelter opens, and begin regular meal service as soon as possible.
8. Keep in constant touch with the shelter chairman at disaster headquarters, giving progress reports and a daily count of persons housed and fed.
9. Arrange for the care of pets, if necessary.
At the reception desk, the family or individual should be assigned to an appropriate lodging area. They should proceed to the registration desk before going on to their lodging area.
Shelter registration cards (Form 5972) should be used if available.
If not, plain 3- x 5-inch cards may be used for this
registration. The following information is needed:
Registration cards should be made in duplicate. One copy is for the shelter manager’s files, and one copy is sent to disaster headquarters for the Welfare Inquiry section. If it is not practicable to make cards in duplicate, an alphabetical list of shelter occupants can be submitted.
When victims move from the shelter, it should be so indicated on the registration cards, and disaster headquarters should be notified.
It is important that people be registered as soon as they
arrive in the shelter, or as soon as practicable. (This is not to be confused
with registration of families for individual assistance, i.e., Family
The shelter manager is administratively responsible for feeding people housed under his management. The shelter manager may have the use of staff who normally operate the cafeteria, or may have to rely on food delivery by other units of the Mass Care function.
The shelter manager is responsible for maintaining a daily count of people fed within his shelter and reporting this information to Red Cross headquarters.
The person in charge of feeding will arrange for someone to
receive, store, issue, and keep records of supplies.
Shelter occupants can assist as cooks' helpers and servers, and can serve on the cleanup crew.
Hot meals should be provided twice a day. Additionally, a midday lunch should be provided for children, the aged, expectant and nursing mothers, workmen, and disaster victims doing heavy work.
Special diet problems will be handled as recommended by medical and nursing staff on duty at the shelter.
Menus will be planned in terms of foods available, with
perishable foods being used first. Sufficient food should be prepared to
provide second servings. USDA foods may be available, subject to approval by
appropriate government agencies (e.g., school administration) and Red Cross
The Red Cross chapter is responsible for providing competent Disaster
Health Services staff in each shelter. If such staff are unavailable, the
shelter manager should assign someone with knowledge of first aid to provide
limited care. In the absence of qualified medical staff, all medical problems
should be referred to a local emergency room or physician. In such an event,
the shelter manager must retain records of individuals—a description of their
ailment or injury and the medical facility used.
The shelter manager will designate someone to be responsible
for child care.
It is the shelter manager’s responsibility to decide when and if recreation is needed. He may appoint one or more persons to develop appropriate recreational activities.
The shelter manager may call upon resources at disaster
headquarters for assistance in providing recreational supplies such as films,
newspapers, equipment, games, and TV sets.
Some guidelines to use in planning: