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How do you prepare for a disaster?

The streets in Naples,Florida are left flooded after Hurricane Irma.

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 Imagine yourself having to evacuate because of a tornado, looking for shelter during a wildfire, or flood proofing your home because a hurricane is coming your way. Depending on where you live these disasters can impact your environment and your life.

 According to the Arizona Emergency Information Network there are four steps needed to be ready for a natural disaster: plan, prepare, inquire, and inspire.

  • Plan: Write and rehearse family evacuation, communication plans, and a family meeting place.
  • Prepare: Gather enough supplies to sustain you and your family for at least three days.
  • Inquire: Know the hazards in your community. Ask school administrators and your employer to see evacuation plans and preparedness procedures.
  • Inspire: Share what you’ve learned about personal and family preparedness and find ways to involve others in the preparations.

Beth Perez was in Naples, Florida when Hurricane Irma hit in September. It was too late for Perez and her family to evacuate.

“We stocked up on canned food, bottled water, and boarded up our windows, however some people bought all the plywood. We ended up using everything we could find to cover up our windows. We broke up utility shelves, a basketball backboard, whatever we could find and it worked. Our house survived.”

Perez was devastated about how Naples looked after the storm.

“Flooding, massive trees uprooted, building damage, signs demolished. It hit very hard,” she said. “We were without electricity and water for ten days. We drove 45 minutes one way to fill up water jugs. The temperature was in the 90’s in the house without fans or AC, so on day four we bought a generator and on day six we bought a small window air conditioner. It was a very long ten days.”

Ready.Gov is a national public service campaign designed to educate and empower the American people to prepare for, respond to, and mitigate emergencies, including natural and manmade disasters. The goal is to promote preparedness through public involvement. They suggest you have a number of items in case of emergencies, including a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, a flashlight, a first aid kit, extra batteries, and a whistle to signal for help. Assemble your kit but storing items in airtight plastic bags. All your disaster supplies should be in an easy-to-carry container.

Here in Arizona, we have power outages, dust storms, floods, and monsoon storms. Anne Montgomery, a teacher at South Mountain High School who is also a volunteer first responder with the Maricopa County Public Health Department, recommends a gallon of water a day for everybody in the house, and don’t forget the pets.

“People need to think ahead and make sure they have supplies at home,” Montgomery said. “You can go a long time without food but not a very long time without water in the desert.”

Montgomery had several suggestions to prepare for a disaster.

“Non perishable foods, canned foods, boxed foods that have a long expiration date. I always have peanut butter and soups and pasta,” she said. “You need to consider whether anybody in your family may be on medication. There should be extra medication for times of emergencies. You should not let your gas tank go below half a tank, so you have a way to get out or get away from whatever the problem is. You should not always count on your cell phones. You need to plan ahead of time, so your family members know where to go if they can’t reach you by phone.”

You never know when disaster can strike. It’s good to be prepared.   

For more information on how you can prepare for emergency situations, visit these sites:

https://www.dhs.gov/how-do-i/prepare-my-family-disaster

http://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies

https://www.fema.gov/pdf/library/pfd.pdf

https://www.usa.gov/prepare-for-disasters

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How do you prepare for a disaster?