Valley residents may not have to worry about hurricanes or earthquakes, but being prepared for an emergency — either individually or as a community — should be at the top of every resident’s to-do lists, public safety leaders said.
Photos and news of how Hurricane Sandy — followed by a winter storm — impacted the Northeast have brought to light the need for families to have a plan should the power go out or they are unable to get out of their homes here in the Valley, Mesa Fire Department’s Deputy Chief Cori Hayes said.
Hayes recommends families have a two-week supply of water and food for every member of the household.
“Probably the biggest risk we have in the Valley is a large scale power outage,” she said. Many East Valley residents may have food and water for 72 hours, but “two to three weeks, now that’s a different ball game.”
Families don’t need a formal “survival kit” in the house — though those are readily available at stores. Hayes said the best thing to do is have enough supplies on-hand in case grocery stores don’t have power or run out of supplies. Then, she said, the supplies can rotate through the family’s regular meal planning and stay fresh.
That means there should be water jugs, staples like cereal and peanut butter, powdered milk and canned goods.
Beyond food, families should consider what medical needs they could face if the power were out for a long time.
“How many times have you run out of medicines?” she said. If there is a baby at home, she recommends having a steady supply of diapers, formula and baby food.
Most people rely on their smartphones for information, but a good, battery-operated radio is another “must” for every family’s survival list, Hayes pointed out.
Speaking of cell phones, when there’s not power, communication lines may be down.
“Some people experiencing Sandy found they couldn’t make a phone call, but they could text,” she said.
Keeping the phone powered up during an outage is another story. Hayes recommends keeping a charger in the car. And unless you have a generator, “Be prepared to not have a microwave, not have a stove.”
That’s when the family grill may be useful or even a camping stove to prepare food.
Planning is needed for those items too, such has keeping an extra propane tank at the house.
Besides power outages, there is the possibility of some Valley residents being stuck in their homes because of flash flooding, depending on where they live, Hayes said.
“Where you live makes a significant difference on what’s going to impact you,” she said.
Local fire departments will have sandbags available when necessary, she said.
“Know where those resources are,” she said.
For those who can buy one, a generator will keep the lights, stove and refrigerator running.
But it likely won’t keep the air-conditioning on during the summer.
“That’s when having plenty of water is helpful,” she said.
The pre-made kits also contain blankets, flashlights, ponchos, and a first aid kit, all items that a family can gather on their own.
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