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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.

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