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Monday, December 14, 2009

Showers With a Chance for Preparedness

Last Monday (Dec. 7) it stormed something awful at my house. Not surprising, the same system that barreled through my neighborhood with thunder and lightning and fierce winds also dumped significant snow at higher elevations. More than likely, you saw some weather outside your place.

I woke the next morning to a backyard scattered with debris and a tattered bougainvillea bush (see photo). In retrospect, the shrub was of little consequence compared to damage (e.g., toppled mature trees) done to homes down the block.

When you consider what might have been, what was didn't seem so bad. The bottom line is that you can't control which way or with what intensity the wind blows. All you can do is know and respect the local hazards and prepare for them.

In some areas knowing the hazards is easy. You only have to look outside or take a lap around the neighborhood. And once you identify a hazard, you need to prepare.

For example, if you live near a wash or riverbed then worry over flash flooding is justified and reason enough to make a family evacuation plan, to learn to turn off the gas and power, and to store important papers and keepsakes in a high, overhead cabinet.

If you own a home in the mountains or in an area dense with trees then wildfires would be an appropriate incident to mitigate against. You do this by clearing defensible space around your house, clearing clogged gutters of debris and landscaping with native plants that require little water.

If you live in Northern Arizona or at higher elevations then blizzards, ice storms and extreme winter cold would give cause to pack a family emergency kit complete with considerations for the cold like blankets, jackets, hats and gloves.

Ultimately, the point is ready yourself, your family and your home for any and all hazards. The basics of comprehensive preparedness are easy to remember, simple to follow and never change.
Prepare a Plan - write and rehearse family communication and preparedness plans that identify a family meeting place and include local emergency numbers and an "out-of-town" contact.

Make a Kit - gather enough food, water and provisions for 72 hours. Suggested items include first aid supplies, non-perishable food, drinking water, a flashlight and a radio.

Be Informed - learn about hazards in your community by listening to and/or watching local news. You can also contact your local emergency management office to learn about readiness planning and preparations.

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