Tahoe chief’s corner: September is National Preparedness Month | SierraSun.com

Tahoe chief’s corner: September is National Preparedness Month

Ryan Sommers
Chief’s Corner

National Preparedness Month is a good reminder for all of us to take action to prepare, now and throughout the year, for the types of emergencies that could affect us where we live, work and visit.

"Don't Wait, Communicate. Make Your Emergency Plan Today," is the theme this year, and reminds us to prioritize preparedness for youth, older adults, and people with disabilities and others with access and functional needs.

Prior to a disaster, each family must have a plan. You can begin this process by gathering family members and making sure each person is well-informed on potential hazards and community plans. Discuss with them what you would do if family members are not home when a warning is issued.

Additionally, your family plan should address the following:

Escape Routes: Draw a floor plan of your home. Use a blank sheet of paper for each floor. Mark two escape routes from each room. Make sure children understand the drawings. Post a copy of the drawings at eye level in each child's room.

Establish a Meeting Place: In the event of an emergency and evacuation, establish a spot to meet near your home (for example your mailbox if you have one; or a neighbor's house), outside your neighborhood, a community space such as the Village Green (across from the Recreation Center, the secondary shelter location in our community. The primary evacuation center is at the Incline High School). For more information on emergency preparedness in our community, visit http://www.nltfpd.net.

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Evacuation Plans: When community evacuations become necessary, local officials provide information to the public through the media, door-to-door notification or citizen telephonic notification system such as Code Red. To register and receive alerts via email, cell phone, text messaging, go to http://www.readywashoe.com. You can also download Code Red application on your cell phone. You can also tune to 780 KOH AM radio.

Family Communications: Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so plan how you will contact one another. Think about how you will communicate in different situations. Complete a contact card for each family member. Have family members keep these cards handy in a wallet, purse, backpack, etc. You may want to send one to school with each child to keep on file.

Utility Shut-off and Safety: In the event of a disaster, you may be instructed to shut off the utility service at your home. As part of your family preparedness, contact your local water, gas, and electrical companies to learn how to safety turn off these services.

Safety Skills: It is important that family members know how to administer first aid and CPR and how to use a fire extinguisher. Learn First Aid and CPR. Go to http://www.nltfpd.net for 2016 CPR courses. Learn how to use a fire extinguisher and where it is kept. You should have, at a minimum, an ABC type fire extinguisher.

Special Needs: If you or someone close to you has a disability or a special need, you may have to take additional steps to protect yourself and your family in an emergency. Find out about special assistance that may be available in Washoe County. Register with the office of emergency services or the local fire department for assistance so needed help can be provided.

Care for Pets: If you evacuate your home, do not leave your pets behind! Pets most likely cannot survive by themselves; and if by some remote chance they do, you may not be able to find them when you return. For additional information, please contact Washoe County Regional Animal Services, email: pets@washoecounty.us, Shelter Phone: (775) 353-8900 or Field Dispatch: (775) 322-3647 (DOGS).

Care for Livestock: If you have large animals such as horses, cattle, sheep, goats, or pigs on your property, be sure to prepare before a disaster. For additional information, please contact Washoe County Regional Animal Services.

Next week we will talk about staying informed during an emergency and building an emergency supply kit.

"Chief's Corner" is a regular feature from North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District Interim Chief Ryan Sommers and other regional fire chiefs, offering information, tips and education material on fire safety, emergency preparedness and other pertinent topics.