Being Prepared for a Disaster Is the Key to Surviving One!
Our country has had quite a year of natural disasters so far. Devastating wildfires across the West, including here in Arizona, and now flooding from Hurricane Harvey and Irma have displaced millions of people in Texas and Florida. Being prepared for a disaster is the key to surviving one!
When a disaster hits, first responders cannot reach everyone immediately. It might be days before help might arrive, or you will need to evacuate your home to get to a safer place. Being prepared ahead of time so you do not have to scramble for supplies makes all the difference. Often there is not much warning before a disaster strikes, so time is valuable and every second counts.
Having a game plan is the first step. Start by identifying disaster risks in your area and then create a disaster plan. For Arizona, wildfires and severe weather are our biggest threats. Severe weather can include hazardous conditions produced by thunderstorms, including damaging winds, hail, flooding and flash flooding, and winter storms associated with freezing rain, sleet, snow and strong winds.
Here are preparedness guidelines from NFPA, the National Fire Protection Agency:
Discuss what to do in an evacuation, and don't forget to include the needs of those with disabilities.
When told by officials, go immediately to a shelter as instructed or to the home of a friend or relative who lives out of the area. Find out about your local shelters beforehand.
Know evacuation routes. Pre-establish several different routes in case certain roads are blocked or closed.
Family members can become separated during an emergency. Be prepared by creating a plan for how to reach one another. Establish an out-of-area contact (such as a relative or friend) who can coordinate family members' locations and information should you become separated. Make sure children learn the phone numbers and addresses, and know the emergency plans.
Quiz children every six months so they remember what to do, where to go, and whom to call in an emergency.
Decide how to take care of pets. Pets are not allowed in places where food is served, so you will need to have a place to take your pets if you have to go to a shelter.
Post emergency phone numbers (fire, police, ambulance, etc.) by the phone.
Preparing before a disaster strikes will help ensure you and your family greatly reduce your risk for harm. Don't wait until it's too late!