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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Relationships make the (emergency management) world go round

Relationships are one of the most important elements in every aspect of my life— my family, my friends, my boxing instructor, and my work at the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs (DEMA).  

Relationships developed with people in emergency management, from the local level (city and county) up to other state and federal agencies, are important to build before an emergency occurs. Knowing who works at the county level emergency management offices makes it easier to call and ask for help when it is needed.  

In order to truly serve one’s community, relationships must extend beyond  emergency management  to include public health, transportation, schools, fire, voluntary groups, as well as businesses. Most emergency events involve response efforts from a variety of agencies . Engaging agencies from a variety of areas strengthens the emergency response and encompasses a Whole Community approach to keeping the public safe.

DEMA’s Public Information Office works to develop and strengthen relationships across the state, knowing that it is imperative to have a relationship in place before an incident (emergency) occurs. One way we do this is by maintaining a contact list of all the Pubic Information Officers from agencies and organizations throughout Arizona.

One of the best relationships I have developed is with the wonderful people (Beca, Carmen and Vicki) at the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (ACDHH). A few years ago, we were brainstorming outreach ideas for the Whole Community and decided to create videos highlighting emergency preparedness.

While disasters don’t occur often in Arizona, they do happen. Wildfires rage through parts of the state every summer. Floods can inundate streets and homes north, south, east, and west. Extreme heat affects us each summer, and even earthquakes can shake our ground. With the threat of these diverse hazards present each year, everyone needs to be prepared.

I reached out to Beca and Carmen at ACDHH and we worked to develop scripts and then record preparedness videos about wildfire, flood, earthquake, and nuclear incident, with videos on extreme heat and dust storms in the works. Beca interpreted the video using American Sign Language (ASL). Along with audio (provided by Vicki), we added text to the screen to ensure every person that has access to the videos will receive the information they may need to prepare themselves and their families.

DEMA wants all Arizonans to be prepared for any potential disaster. Including the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community is integral to this goal. Without our relationship with ACDHH, we would have not been able to produce videos. 

Monday, July 24, 2017

Day trip to a cool 91 degrees

After a couple weeks of triple-digit temps in Phoenix, my wife and I had to get out of town to break things up. I'd heard so many great things about Jerome, but had never made the trip. So going there for the day on a Sunday was an easy call.

Jerome, Arizona
I'm always cautious before I take my car on a road trip. It's an older car that's been through more than its fair share of states, but it's reliable. I make sure to get my tire pressure checked before we head off. I highly recommend getting that done at any point, but especially before a road trip.  Several places will check your tire pressure and fill your tires to the appropriate level for free, and as a bonus, it gives you peace of mind knowing your tires are in good shape.

Jerome, Arizona
We packed snacks for the road to keep up the energy. Even though it might be tempting to go for coffee, a frappuccino, or an energy drink, water and sports drinks prove to be the best call time and again to stay hydrated, especially in the Arizona heat.

It is also a good idea to make sure you charge your phone and have a charger with you. If you are going to use your phone as a camera, double check to make sure it has enough storage left on it. I have no "selfie" control, and Jerome is a photographer's playground, even if you are a novice like me. I took only a handful of photos and ran out of room to take anymore.

Long story short, Jerome was WONDERFUL! I enjoyed the charming, artistic, historic, mountain-top town and I will surely be back. All in all, it was so worth it to get out of town and hike a little bit. Mostly I was glad to spend some time in "cool" 91-degree weather!

Blog by Charlie Misra

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Road trip to cooler weather

Route 66, Photo Courtesy:
Arizona Department of Transportation
At a little more than two hours, it's not the longest road trip to make, but my wife and I still considered many little things before we traveled to Flagstaff for our weekend staycation.

This trip was the perfect opportunity for my family to practice key elements of emergency preparedness. Traveling away from home requires lots of factors to consider.

My wife and I left early in the morning, so we didn’t  rush while driving and  enjoyed our drive to northern Arizona. Since breakfast is the most important meal of the day, we ate  before we left so we were fueled for our  journey. Water is a must. We packed a few snacks, including protein bars, nuts and snack mix. Gatorade or Powerade are excellent bonuses to stay hydrated and replenish electrolytes while on the road.

Thinking ahead is always crucial in emergency planning.  When I go to Flagstaff, I'm always amazed that we're still in the same state because it's so much cooler there. This  was hard to fathom when we grabbed our hooded sweatshirts out of the closet as it was 100+ degrees outside in Phoenix. We knew high 60s to mid 70s awaited!

We tracked traffic reports to identify road closures before we were on our way. Once on the road, whoever is the passenger checks the cell phone GPS for accidents or closures up ahead. We keep a charger in the car for our phones.

It helps having two people in the car-- the other person can take over driving in case the driver gets tired. We try to keep an eye out for rest stops so we can take stretch breaks and use the restroom as needed.

Lastly, in the trunk of the car, I keep jumper cables, flashlights, extra batteries and other helpful things like synthetic motor oil, brake fluid, WD-40 and a funnel.

Being prepared helps us along the way and gives us the peace of mind necessary to fully enjoy our trip. 

Blog by Charlie Misra

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Pet Preparedness Month: Make an evacuation plan that includes the whole family.

Dog wearing canine backpack laying in the grass with tennis
 ball, leash, and collapsible water bowl.
As a pet owner, I have always felt that my four- legged friend is one of the family. I have always shown compassion for Boomer, my three year old Golden Retriever, as deeply as I do my own children. That is why, when it comes to his health and well-being, I make sure to include Boomer in my family’s emergency preparedness plan.

Just as you take special consideration for children or elderly family members, your pet’s preparedness should go through a similar process. Following these simple tips can alleviate the stress you and your pet experience during an emergency.

Starting from the inside out

Pets are acutely tuned to your feelings. They can sense excitement, fear, and stress. Often times this creates a sense of panic for your pet, who only wants to make you happy. When they cannot “cure” the tension you are experiencing, they start to experience these emotions themselves. If you are one that does not regularly take your pet with you outside of the home, this may also feed into your pet’s emotions as you attempt to load them into the vehicle and remove them from their comfort zone.

The first thing I do with Boomer is show compassion, rather than frustration during a stressful situation. Simply giving him a few seconds of attention and talking calmly to him helps alleviate his tension. I take Boomer on morning walks regularly and he takes car rides with our family to the park, camping, and the groomer, so he does not associate a car ride with something negative like going to the vet. These practices all feed into the readiness of our family evacuation plan.

 ID your pet

One of the basic steps pet owners can take is make sure your pet has current identification tags securely fastened to your pet’s collar. The ID tag should include at a minimum, the pet’s name, address and contact phone number. Micro-chipping your pet is another option to help reunite if you become separated from your pet.
I have current photo of Boomer and I together that will help if he becomes lost and I enlist others to help locate him. It will also help establish ownership, should it be questioned when reuniting.

Boomer’s bug out bag

Just as I have for other family members, I have also packed a 72 hour kit of pet care items for Boomer.  Some basics items I have included are:
Dog standing wearing canine backpack

·         Food in an air tight, waterproof container

·         Three days of water

·         Medication/Supplements

·         Pet specific first aid kit

·         Leash

·         Toys

To make this easier, I purchased Boomer a doggie backpack and have his ssentials  packed inside. Boomer carries his backpack on walks to condition him wearing his pack. In an emergency, I know by grabbing his pack I have the basics Boomer will need.

 Evacuation preparedness

Evacuations during an emergency can be one of the most stressful situations anyone can experience. Having a plan for pet accommodations is crucial.

If you must evacuate, take your pets with you.  Although only service animals are allowed in most public shelters, local animal care and control will try to set up a pet shelter in proximity to the public shelter as well.

Whether you plan on staying in a public shelter, with a friend or family member, or in a hotel, it is a good idea to have a kennel for your pet. Aside from a blanket, food and water, there are a few other items that can help ease your pet’s nerves and help with separation anxiety should you not be able to keep your pet with you in the temporary evacuation shelter. For Boomer, I include a shirt that I have worn to provide a familiar scent and minimize the feeling of abandonment during times of separation.

Like most of us, sitting around waiting can be boring and lead to higher levels of anxiety. Include a pet’s favorite toy or other items to keep them entertained can ease the time confined to the kennel. Boomer likes to have a knotted rope to chew on and a tennis ball.

It is also a good idea to attach an information card to the outside of the kennel to help for the care of your pet in your absence. This card should include:

·         Name

·         Breed

·         Age

·         Medical conditions

·         Owner name

·         Address

·         Phone number

·         Veterinarian’s Information

·         Picture

·         Special Notes

Each emergency will vary and the needs of your pet may also be different, but preparing now can alleviate the stress you and your pet go through. For more information or to download a checklist, visit

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Prepare for the upcoming summer hazards

Last week, I was working around the house. I had just put a roast in the crock pot and started a load of laundry. Suddenly, I heard a loud sound – a mix between and bang and hiss – and my power went out. “Uh oh,” I thought to myself. It was 9:15 in the morning and the temperature was supposed to reach 103 degrees.

I walked around my house turning switches off so the power didn’t surge when it came back on. I looked at the crock pot and I estimated I had about 10 minutes before I would need to decide what to do with the roast sitting inside.

I looked at my dog. She cocked her head to the side and wagged her tail. It was still cool in the house, but that wouldn’t last too long as it was already 91 outside.

Of course, I had just gone shopping and had a fridge full of food. I knew as long as I kept the doors closed, I had a while until I had to worry about the food.

Fifteen minutes passed and I needed to do something with the roast. I went outside and lit the grill. I’d cook it over a low heat for an hour and it should turn out great.
Arizona is known for its extreme summer temperatures, so we know how to keep cool. Of course, part of that “keeping cool” is sitting inside an air-conditioned house. As we didn’t have that option, I walked around closing all the blinds to keep the sun and heat out.

I called my elderly neighbors next door to see if they were ok and if they needed anything. They weren’t home, so I told them I would call them when the power came back.

Another 30 minutes passed. I decided it was time to cool off in another way. I took Bella (my dog) outside and we both swam in the pool to cool off.

As 30 more minutes ticked by, I knew I needed to think about what to do if the power stayed out. My daughter didn’t get out of school until 2:30 p.m., so I had plenty of time until she got home. I knew I could take Bella to a friend’s house if we started to get too hot.

My next thought was the food in the fridge. I went to the garage and realized I couldn’t drive anywhere as the garage door wouldn’t open. I went inside, put on sunscreen and a big hat, grabbed a bottled water and my bike, and rode to the store around the corner. I purchased two bags of ice. The clerk, after hearing about our lack of power, gave me a free popsicle. 

When I got back home, I put the ice in the fridge. An hour later, I heard the rumble of my A/C, and a ceiling fan began turning. I smiled as the power kicked back on.

While it wasn’t extreme heat, or an extended power outage, the morning reminded me to get ready and think about what I would do if the power went out this summer.

The Arizona Emergency Information Network (AzEIN) has many more tips of how to be prepared for extreme heat and what to do if the power does go out.