Disaster preparedness is an important priority for Curry County Emergency Management. We aim to inform and empower people to prepare for and respond to emergencies. It’s critical for families, individuals, communities and businesses to make an emergency plan, and communicate the plan before, during and after emergencies.
Where to start?
The prospect of “getting prepared for emergencies” can seem like a huge undertaking. Do you prepare for three days? For a week? A month?
Here are some easy steps to get you started:
Which emergencies concern you and your family the most? Identify these first, then make a list of the disasters and how they would impact your family. Talk about how you could overcome the impacts of each disaster.
For example, a disaster that involves a power outage may cause you to be without water if you are on a well. A way to overcome this would be to find an alternate water source, or an alternate way to power your well pump.
Decide as a family when you would evacuate, and when you would shelter in place.
For example, you might choose to weather a winter storm in your house, but would choose to evacuate if a wildfire threatened your neighborhood.
Decide as a family the duration for which you want to prepare.
Identify for whom you are making preparations (humans, pets and livestock).
Make a list of the things you’ll need during a disaster. There are many lists of suggested items on the internet.
Then, assess your current level of preparedness:
Take inventory of equipment and supplies you already have (i.e. camping gear)
Talk about what you need to do in order to overcome the impacts of disaster to your family, and see how many solutions you can implement right now.
Using the example from above, a generator may be the best solution to the problem. If you don’t currently have a generator or the means to get one, a temporary solution might be to store water in plastic jugs or drums until you are able to get a generator.
Finally, make a list of steps you need to take in order to achieve the level of preparedness you and your family identified. Make a weekly or monthly commitment to work on these steps with your family. Develop a monthly budget and shopping list.
Common steps include:
1. Build 72-hour kits for your home and vehicles
2. Create an emergency plan for you and your family:
a) A plan for how you and your family members will contact each other when a disaster occurs
b) A plan for how to get out of your home quickly and safely if the need arises
c) Phone numbers for your doctors and veterinarians
d) Names and phone numbers of people you can stay with temporarily, both locally and out of
the area, in case you have to evacuate your home
e) Names and phone numbers of people who can house your animals if you have to evacuate
3. Teach family members how to turn off gas, electrical and water services to your home
4. Create a defensible space around your home by clearing brush and trimming trees
Be sure to test your plans! Preparing and having a plan can help you to feel less vulnerable to disasters. Training and testing can be positive experiences that help alleviate anxiety over the unknown.
Preparedness for people with varied abilities
Anyone with a disability, or who lives with, works with or assists a person with a disability or special need should create a disaster plan. For some individuals, being notified of or responding to a disaster may be more difficult because of a disability. Disabilities may be physical, mental, emotional, ethnic, socio-economic, cultural, or language based. Addressing special needs ahead of time will reduce the physical and emotional trauma caused by the emergency.
1. Be Informed of what might happen Learn about community hazards:
In Curry County, our risks include wildfire, flood, earthquake, severe weather, transportation incident, drought, hazardous materials incident, infectious disease outbreak/Public Health emergency, earthquakes, and the possibility of tsunamis. Think about how these hazards may impact you. How would you cope with a long term power outage? Would smoky air from a forest fire cause you difficulty breathing? What if you can't make it down the road?
Learn about disaster planning:
Find out what planning activities have taken place in your community. In addition to county response plans, many families, businesses and churches have disaster plans. Ask your friends, family, coworkers, or contact your local emergency manager or Red Cross office.
Learn about warning systems:
How will you be warned of an impending disaster? How will you get information during and after a disaster? Learn about the NOAA weather radio system and what different weather words such as ‘watch’ and ‘warning’ mean at www.noaa.gov.
2. Make a Plan For what you will do in an emergency. Create a personal support network:
A personal support network can be made up of friends, relatives, neighbors, coworkers, teachers or other people you trust. Your personal support network can help you plan for what you will need during a disaster, and can assist you during a disaster.
Members of your personal support network should know your capabilities and needs, and be able to offer assistance within a short time. You should have a minimum of three people in your network for each place you regularly spend time during the week.
Complete a personal assessment:
Decide what you will be able to do yourself, and what you will need assistance with before, during and after a disaster. This will be based on the environment during and after a disaster, your capabilities and your limitations. Make a list of your personal needs and your resources for meeting those needs in a disaster environment. Think about topics such as personal care, water service, medications, personal care equipment, adaptive feeding devices, electricity-dependent devices, transportation, errands, building evacuation and service animals or pets. Share your personal assessment with your personal support network.
Make a family disaster plan:
Whether you live by yourself, or with family members, friends or pets it is very important to have a disaster plan. This plan should include information about how you will communicate with friends, family and coworkers during and after a disaster, how you will decide to stay or evacuate, and other details relevant to your personal situation and needs.
Plan for your pets
Plan to take your pets with you when you evacuate if at all possible. Red Cross shelters usually don’t let you bring your pets except service animals. Make a list of friends, family, coworkers and pet-friendly hotels that you could stay at in an emergency. Make a list of facilities that could board your pet in case you are not able to stay somewhere with your pet. Be sure to prepare a go kit for your pet to use if you have to evacuate!
Prepare for different hazards
Different hazards may require you to protect yourself in different ways. For instance, during a wildfire you may need to evacuate, or stay indoors due to smoke, but during a flood you would want to get to higher ground. Think about the hazards that may impact your community and the ways that you would protect yourself. Be sure to include in the information in your family disaster plan.
3. Get a Kit Of Emergency Supplies
Think about how an emergency might affect your individual needs. Plan to make it on your own for at least three days, preferably seven or more. It is possible that you may not have access to a grocery store, drugstore or medical facility. What if help you count on every day, such as a caregiver or oxygen supplier can’t reach you? Think about what kinds of resources you use on a daily basis, and what you might do if those resources were limited or not available.
Think about the things that you, your pets, service animals, or anyone else you are responsible for use on a daily basis. Food and water are the most important items, followed by tools, clothing and other supplies that you use every day or might need during a disaster. You may want to make a kit for your home, and a go-kit to take to a shelter or other location if you are asked to evacuate.
You probably have some supplies on hand right now that you could use to start making a kit. Each time you make a trip to the store to do your regular shopping, pick up a few things for your kit as well.
4. Maintain Your Plan & Kit
Read your disaster plan with your family and personal support network. Quiz each other to be sure that everyone remembers what the plan says to do.
Conduct drills as often as possible. Pick a hazard each month to test, such as a house fire evacuation drill. Be sure everyone knows how to get out of the house safely and where to meet. Discuss your performance of the drill and update your plan as needed.
Maintain the equipment in your house such as smoke alarms and fire extinguishers. Read the manufacturer’s instructions for testing and replacement and be sure to follow them closely.
Rotate supplies in your emergency kit, especially food and water. Be sure to check medications, insurance policy numbers and other items that may have expired or need to be updated.
Remember to have fun! Preparing and having a plan makes us feel empowered, and less vulnerable to disasters. Training and testing can be positive experiences that help alleviate anxiety over the unknown.
Special Considerations: All Persons With Special Needs
Persons with Mobility Challenges
Persons with Visual Challenges
Persons with Hearing Challenges
Persons with Medical Needs
For many Curry County residents, pets and sometimes livestock are considered important household members. How well you and your animals survive during disasters depends on the steps you take today. Remember - If it’s not safe for you, it’s not safe for them!
Before a Disaster
Make a disaster plan to protect your property, your facilities and your animals. Review and update your disaster plan, supplies and information regularly.
Create a list of emergency telephone numbers, including those of your employees, neighbors, veterinarian, state veterinarian, poison control, local animal shelter, county extension service, local agricultural schools, trailering resources and local volunteers. Include a contact person outside the disaster area. Make sure all this information is written down and that everyone in your family or network has a copy.
Find a Safe Place Ahead of Time
Decide where you will take your animals if you ever need to evacuate. Human evacuation shelters don’t usually accept pets other than service animals, so plan ahead to ensure your family—including your pets and livestock—have a safe place to stay. Evacuation shelters should be a last resort, as they may be full or inaccessible. Have an agreement with a friend, kennel or stable outside your immediate area. Identify pet friendly hotels ahead of time in the event you are unable to stay with friends or family.
In Case You Are Not At Home
Be sure to have an agreement with a neighbor or a friend who can take care of your animals if disaster strikes when you‘re away from home.
Be sure that your emergency plan includes a method to identify your animals. For pets, this could be a collar with an identification tag. If your livestock are not identified by a brand or ear tag, options include a halter tag, neck collar, leg band, mane clip, a luggage tag braided into the animal’s tail or mane, clipper-shaved information in the animal’s hair, livestock marking crayon, non-toxic, non-water-soluble spray paint, or non-water-soluble markers to write on the animals' side.
Make an Animal Emergency Kit
Put together an emergency kit for your animals in case you, or someone you have designated, has to evacuate your pets or livestock from your home. Be sure to include the following types of items:
Your veterinarian can help you decide what medications and supplies to put in your first aid kit. Additionally, both the Humane Society of the United States and the American Red Cross have comprehensive lists for first aid kits: http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/resources/tips/pet_first_aid_kit.html
It is especially important for livestock owners to be prepared due to their transportation and shelter needs. Disasters can happen anywhere at any time. Being prepared can help you to act quicker during a disaster. Livestock owners should be prepared to evacuate as soon as an order is given, or earlier if possible.
During some disasters, you may have no choice but to evacuate. Never leave pets or livestock behind during a disaster! Plan to evacuate early if time permits, and remember to bring your animal’s emergency kit.
If You Have To Shelter in Place
Depending on the disaster, it may be safest to shelter in place. Think about how you would care for your pets and livestock and keep them safe during a disaster.
Whenever possible, bring your animals inside. If your animals cannot, or should not come inside, decide whether to confine your animals to available shelter (such as a pen or barn) or leave them out in pastures. Be sure that they have access to an adequate supply of food and water.
Secure or remove anything that could become blowing debris; make a habit of securing trailers, propane tanks and other large objects. If you have boats, feed troughs or other large containers, fill them with water before any high wind event. This prevents them from blowing around and also gives you an additional supply of water.
Carefully inspect pens, runs and other areas for debris and security before allowing your animals access to them. Be aware of hazards at your animal’s level (nose, paw/hoof) such as spilled chemicals, nails or other sharp objects. Disaster impacts to animals don’t end when you return home. Many times, animals will sense changes to your home and property that may not be readily apparent to you. In the first few days after a disaster, leash your pets when they go outside and always maintain close contact with them. Familiar scents and landmarks may be altered and your pet may become confused and lost. The behavior of your animals may change after an emergency. Normally quiet and friendly animals may become aggressive or defensive. Watch animals closely. Check with your veterinarian if you have concerns about your animal’s behavior.
Below are tips for making an emergency kit for your home and your car. Much more information can be found on the internet, including specialized lists such as for child care providers, persons with disabilities or pet owners. If you cannot afford to make multiple kits, start by making a kit that you can use in both your car and at your home.
Prepare yourself for a minimum of 3 days, longer if possible. Experts now recommend everyone be prepared to survive on their own for a minimum of 7-10 days.
If possible, store items in a cool, dark location, but be sure to store your supplies in a place that will be accessible during most disasters. You can choose to keep all your supplies together in a large container, such as a garbage can with wheels. If it’s more convenient, or if you don’t have room for a large container, try several smaller containers with like items stored together.
Remember to rotate your supplies to keep them fresh. Children will out grow clothing, medications will expire, and some food items will become stale over time.
Store what you eat. During a disaster is not a good time to try new menu items. Storing what you already use makes it much easier to rotate food items back to your pantry when they need to be eaten, and to restock with fresh items. You can also purchase small amounts of emergency meals for your family to try, and then decide if you like them enough to store them. Many camping and chain stores have freeze-dried and ready-to-eat meals, or you can make your own.
The internet contains a wealth of information about how to make your own emergency food ranging from camping and backpacking items to ‘emergency rations.’
Start with what you already have. If you’re a camper or backpacker, you’ve got a head start. Your tent, cook stove and other gear can double as emergency supplies.
Start small: Each time you go to the grocery store, Wal-mart, Costco or other stores, pick up something for your kit. Make a list of the supplies you need to purchase and then break it out over several months or a year. After you have stored enough food, water and supplies for 72 hours, start preparing for a week, then a month, then six months, then a year.