Chief’s Corner: The empowerment of preparedness

Steve Leighton
Steve Leighton

TAHOE CITY, Calif. — National Preparedness Month is observed each September to help raise awareness about the importance of remaining prepared for emergencies and disasters that may occur at any time, to anyone. Preparedness is empowering. Knowing your family is prepared to self-sustain during an emergency helps to reduce fear, anxiety and actual losses that may be experienced in a disaster.

The best way to keep your family safe is to plan now to ensure you are prepared before an emergency happens. Take time to make a plan and have conversations about preparedness. Help your family know how to stay safe and navigate potentially scary situations.

In the Sierra, wildfire tends to be at the forefront of our minds when we think of disasters, but it’s important to remember that our community may face not only weather driven disasters such as flood, fire, mudslides and extended power outages. Our area is susceptible to earthquake and seiche, and any community could face events such as industrial accidents or other incidents we typically don’t consider.

Don’t forget to prepare for pets. During and after a disaster, many different shelters and organizations take in pets that have become separated from their families. Microchipping your pet and keeping your information up to date (including a recent photo of your pet) can help make sure you and your furry friend are reunited should you become separated.

Follow the National Weather Service for weather updates, and visit CalTrans Quick Maps and Nevada511 for road conditions. Consider the following recommendations to help your family stay prepared:

— An emergency supply kit should have everything you need to survive for several days, including necessities like non-perishable food, water, flashlights, batteries and medical care.

— Pack an emergency kit for your car with a cell phone charger, jumper cables, a flashlight, warm clothes/boots/blankets, emergency reflectors, food, and water.

— Carry an emergency kit with supplies for each member of your family and pets, including cash, prescription medication, prescription lenses, water, pet food, etc.

— Know which local radio stations are used for emergency information.

By acting now, we can ensure our families and communities are prepared to be self-sufficient in the event ofan emergency.

Learn more at

Steve Leighton is fire chief for North Tahoe and Meeks Bay fire protection districts.

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