September is the annual shift for youth to settle into familiar routines and wildfire fears have faded until next summer. It is the time to enjoy the beauty of the seasonal foliage and the perfect time to revisit boring family preparedness plans, because nature can be brutal, and life happens.
Communication outages, utility outages, flooding, wildfires, winter storms and hazards of all sorts can rapidly spiral into a critical situation. A well-prepared community can reduce loss of life and property. The month-long proclamation encourages all citizens to prepare for disasters by developing a family
communication plan, building an emergency kit, learning the hazards of the community, and being willing and ready to evacuate when danger is imminent and potentially life-threatening.
“I encourage all to visit our website, sign up for Navajo County emergency alerting system, and follow the great advice posted there,” said Catrina Jenkins, Emergency Manager for Navajo County.
“We are only a few in our department, but if the public does their part by being prepared, we can be strong and ready should tragedy strike,” Jenkins continued.
For those new to rural life, a Go Bag (also known as a bug out bag) is a weatherproof backpack or tote specifically designed to hold everything needed to function without access to your home. It may include such things as important documents, keys, medications, first aid kit, battery-powered radio, cell phone, evacuation route, can opener, flashlight, a change of clothes and cash.
Jenkins also recommends stashing away cash in their go bag. “Cash is the one thing most people don’t think about, and it can be everything in an emergency,” said Jenkins.
Some especially vulnerable household members may require special considerations during an emergency. Older adults, those with disabilities, young children and pets have their own set of circumstances which require a detailed plan of action in the event of a crisis. Depending on the emergency, different scenarios may need to be planned out ahead of time. There should not be any doubt as to where you will meet up with family, should you get separated. Experts even go as far as to suggest that a family rehearse an exit strategy and go bag checkups at regular intervals. It may feel silly, but practice could save a loved one’s life.
Navajo County has an Emergency Notification System which attempts to contact area residents and businesses via recorded phone messages, texts, or e-mail to alert them to an active emergency or disaster in their area. You do not need to be a resident of Navajo County to receive them. The signup link is available on the website.
Visit Navajo County Emergency Management and Preparedness at www.navajocountyaz.gov/ready.
Visit Apache County Emergency Management and Preparedness at www.apachecountyaz.gov.
If you prefer a phone call, Navajo County and Apache County emergency management staff and public information officers welcome your questions. Apache County residents can reach Haley Nicoll at (901)834-8072. Navajo County residents can call Catrina Jenkins at (928)524-4163
Connie Lane Staff Writer for Mountain Daily Star