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Monday, November 5, 2018

Making preparedness a way of life in my first month at DEMA

On the night before remnants of Hurricane Rosa brought record-breaking rainfall to Arizona, I sat down with my boyfriend and made an emergency family communication plan. Better late than never, but the eve of a potential disaster impact didn’t feel like the ideal time to make a plan. However, I had just started working at DEMA and the plan was my homework.

I’ll fess up and admit that before starting at DEMA, my personal preparedness efforts were extremely limited. I know how to preserve food, but have done it for enjoyment, without an eye toward survival. When the weather starts to get hot, I stash a gallon of water in my truck in case my dog (my frequent co-pilot) and I break down somewhere in the heat. What I’ve done in past is better than nothing, but I now realize there are plenty of opportunities to further my preparedness practice.

Talking through emergency scenarios the night before a major storm was set to hit felt a little eerie. It was as if somehow, by talking about these things, it made them feel more real. Sometimes the mere thought of experiencing a disaster first hand can feel so overwhelming. I think that keeps so many people, myself included, from making a concrete plan for their families in case of an emergency.

Doing our emergency communication plan quickly became so much more than filling out phone numbers on a sheet of paper. The conversations that we had while working through the plan were equally as valuable as what we wrote down. We talked through important questions like, “What if something happened when we were both at work?” and “What if we had to evacuate, but couldn’t get home?”

I had to text my friend to ask her what her work number was, so I could list her as my emergency contact. She knew I had just started working at DEMA, but I mentioned to her that we were putting together our emergency family communication plan. She just got married and moved in with her husband. Who knows? Maybe talking to her about our plan will inspire her to complete her own.

Since I started working at DEMA, I’ve heard the phrase, “preparedness is a way of life.” After a little more than a month, I feel like I’m beginning to get a sense of what that looks like in my day-to-day. For me, making preparedness a way of life has meant an ongoing, gradual shift. As I’ve started learning more and more about it, I’ve noticed changes in my behavior. I got my first ever flu shot today and the last time I went to Costco I picked up a case of water to have at my house.

For me, it has been helpful to realize that making preparedness a way of life doesn’t mean it has to take over your life. There are small easy ways every day to be more prepared for a disaster or emergency. You can prepare for all hazards when you make a plan, build a kit, stay informed and inspire others to do the same.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Prepped for a Trip to Disneyland!

My wife and I recently made our way to the “Happiest Place on Earth” and I’m happy to report that we each made it out in one piece! We had a great time of course, because it’s Disneyland -- and because we prepared.
"It's a Small World" was decorated for the holiday season.

I wrote down our basic itinerary for each day -- where we were planning to visit, who we were going to visit with and where we were staying each night. My parents are my out-of-town contacts on my family communication plan. I told them where we were going. They have all of our contact information.
We prepared sandwiches and bought plenty of snacks and water for the drive (make sure to stay hydrated!). I also kept records of my car rental and hotel confirmation with me, just in case.
We checked the weather forecast for the days ahead. Each day turned out to be beautiful, but it helped to pack light jackets, since temperatures dipped at night.
California is known for its earthquakes. My wife and I practice our Drop, Cover and Hold On drill at home a few times a year, including during the annual Great Arizona ShakeOut, but refreshing what to do if you are on the road is important too.  If you are in a moving vehicle, make sure to stop as quickly as safety permits and stay in the vehicle. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses and utility wires. Proceed cautiously once the earthquake has stopped. Avoid roads, bridges or ramps that might have been damaged by the earthquake.
My wife and I also had a small section of our suitcase dedicated to our many electronic chargers – phones, iPod, iPad, Fit Bit…we made sure to cover all the bases.

A few things that we learned:
      Know your limits and prepare accordingly –My wife and I don’t do well with certain rides, so as fun as Space Mountain, Star Tours and California Screamin’ are, we sat those out. I get motion sick more easily than most people. So I took non-drowsy Dramamine and wore sea sickness armbands around my wrists. I was good to go for the whole day.
      Bring a small bag – We brought a small drawstring backpack which made a HUGE difference. You can bring in unopened water and Gatorade into the park, which we did. We bought Wetzel’s Pretzels for breakfast in downtown Disney (nutritious, I know…) and were able to keep leftovers as a snack for later. The backpack was also small enough to where it never got in the way.
      Think ahead about traffic concerns – Southern California, especially the Los Angeles metro has notoriously awful traffic. My wife and I knew this going in. But we failed to realize just how long rush hour really is in that area. Whether it was I-5, the 101 Highway or other roads, we were backed up for miles along the roadway. Make sure to get there early. It is important to be informed about where you are going, which can include traffic, weather and other potential hazards. Get good shoes or beware of back discomfort – I definitely had back issues after all the walking around. Going from our regular desk jobs to nearly 40,000 steps on my step counter is a big jump! And okay, maybe we could’ve taken another break here and there ;).
      Rain ponchos please! – Not only can you ride water rides like Splash Mountain and Grizzly River Run, you can be prepared if weather takes a turn. If you bring plastic ponchos and a light jacket (which you can keep in your small bag), you can ride both of those as many times as you want at night! Both Grizzly River Run and Splash Mountain had wait times of five minutes or less at night because, understandably, no one wanted to get wet while it was cold out.
We had an awesome time on our Disneyland vacation. With our lessons learned for the future in mind, I’m excited to see how our next trip goes.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Safe cooking during the holidays

Holidays are good for many things, and just one is food! From fires to food poisoning, holiday cooking and kitchen practices can be hazardous. Kitchens are where family and friends tend to gather, so take note of these tips to keep your holidays cooking! 

1.    Keepin’ it Clean
Always wash your hands with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food. Wash cutting boards and knives with warm, soapy water after food preparation. Remember to replace dish towels and sponges often to prevent harmful bacteria.
2.    Fast to the Fridge
The two-hour rule is key: Refrigerate or freeze perishables, prepared food and leftovers within 2 hours. Thaw food in the refrigerator, never at room temperature. Store raw meats tightly wrapped on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator to keep raw juices from dripping on other food.
3.    Cooking it Through
Check meats for proper internal temperature and doneness with a thermometer. Check online for the various doneness charts. Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling, boiling or broiling food. The number one reason for house fires is kitchen stovetop mistakes.
4.    Just Chill
Don’t rush. Cut food slowly and take your time when moving hot pots and pans. Keep anything that can catch fire — oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains — away from your stovetop. Do not wear loose clothing or anything flammable. Have a fire extinguisher handy in your kitchen, and be sure you know how to use it before you need it.
5.    Stirring Up Troubles
Stir away from your body, as awkward as it may feel at first, it can save you a trip to the ER. Turn pot handles away from traffic areas or where your sleeve might catch it. Learn how to use a knife properly, holding the food with your non-dominant hand, fingers curled under.
6.    Kits in the Kitchen
Keep a first aid kit in the kitchen, stocked with up-to-date equipment, including gauze, burn salve, scissors, and the phone number for your doctors and nearby hospitals.

Blog by Tressa Jumps

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Cold weather safety tips for pets

Cool temperatures mean more outdoor activities with our pets, but also present dangers we need to prepare for to help keep our furry friends safe this winter.  To ensure your pets enjoy the cooler temperatures, follow these tips to provide them the extra special care they need to stay healthy and happy this winter.  When in doubt as to the specific needs of your pet to support its health during colder weather, contact your veterinarian.
  1. Sweaters are not just a fashion statement. If you are cold, your pet is likely cold, especially if your pet is older, very young or is ill. Certain breeds are also more vulnerable in  cold temperatures. 
  2. Heating pads and electric blankets do not mix with fur.  Whether your pet has hair or fur, heating pads and electric blankets are not the way to keep your pet warm.  Electric heating devices are not safe to have pets sit or lay on or near.
  3. Pets belong indoors during cold weather.  If you have pets that are indoor/ outdoor, be certain they have a warm, dry, insulated elevated dog house with dry bedding and a flap to keep out wind, water and drafts.  Better yet, allow the pets access to the house through a dog door or open door into the garage.
  4. Warm vehicles attract cats.  Even if you do not have a cat, your neighbor may, so honk your horn or bang on the hood a few times and then wait a few moments before starting the engine to startle any cats that may have crawled by the radiator or tires for warmth.
  5. Antifreeze helps your car but not your pets.  Antifreeze attracts pets but is toxic and can be deadly when ingested.  Keep antifreeze containers closed and in a place inaccessible to pets—like a high shelf or storage closet.  Make certain to mop any spills and wash out funnels used to pour antifreeze into your car.
  6. Food amounts vary during the winter.  If your pet spends a lot of time outdoors, he may require more food to produce more body heat.  Whereas, if you have an indoor pet that is less active during the winter, less calorie intake may be in order.  Talk to your veterinarian to determine how to best adjust your pet’s winter diet.

As during all times of the year, ensure your pet is returned to you safely if he gets lost by having a collar with appropriate tags as well as microchipping your pet.  If your pet does get lost, do the following:

Look for your pet at Maricopa County Animal Care and Control and the Humane Society. File a missing pet report and look for your pet on Pet Harbor.

Call Missing Mutts, Cats, etc. at (480) 898-8914 and call Arizona PetLine at (602) 252-2727.

Blog by Toni Eberhardt 

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Avoid pet-caused disasters this holiday season

Do your  children get excited when the Christmas tree and holiday decorations come out?  Does the look in the eyes of your four-legged kids also show that once-a-year curiousness combined with a mischievousness that makes you scared to leave your pets alone in your  festively-decorated house? 

With a dog and four (indoor-only) cats in my home, it took me years to find the courage to put up a Christmas tree, but last year, I did it.  We even hung stockings that dangled from the fireplace. And, as expected, I saw five sets of eyes filled with wonder and awe.
I swear that a couple of those younger feline eyes looked at that big tree and then at me and my husband, and I knew they were saying, “All of those toys strung up that high in a tree just for me??!!” 

Like most issues with pets, it’s we pet parents that need the training to avoid problems.  The holiday season brings some specific in-home fire dangers that your pets may inadvertently cause if you are not careful.  Follow these tips to keep you and your two and four-legged family members safe this season.
Secure the Christmas tree: Make sure your Christmas tree is secured and weighed down so that curious cats and dogs can't knock it over easily. Always supervise your pet around the tree, especially if your tree is decorated with lights.  Remember, the lights can dry out your tree more quickly, causing increased fire danger.  (Bonus tip: While not a fire danger, prevent your pets from drinking the tree water as it can cause severe  gastrointestinal problems).

Tie back or tape down electric cords: Seasonal decorations often mean more electrical cords around the house.  These cords are tempting toys for pets—- especially domestic rabbits who like to chew cords. Secure your cord to avoid electrical shorts as well as pets getting tangled in cords and accidentally pulling down a heated decoration or device.

Keep open flames inaccessible to pets:Tis the season for candles, Menorahs, fireplaces, and more cooking on gas stoves and in ovens.  Make certain your pets do not have access to flames and are never left unattended with candles or fireplaces lit.  Your pets beautiful fur and flames are enemies.

In addition to keeping our pets and house safe from seasonal hazards, veterinary experts also advise having a “safe room” for your pets to avoid the hustle and bustle of holiday visitors, if they choose.  Having one room that is not decorated and is safe and peaceful for your pets during the holidays is a perfect gift to make their season bright.  

Blog by Toni Eberhardt