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Disaster Preparedness

We don't get hurricanes in the Jemez, but there could be other types of disasters here. Maybe not to the magnitude of what has impacted the Gulf Coast, but when it's your disaster it feels just as bad. We could have flash floods, earthquakes, fires or snowstorms. We could be evacuated from our homes for days, displaced for longer, or stranded in our homes without utilities. Roads could be washed out or buried by mudslides. As we reach out in support of those who are suffering so much, we feel fortunate to live in a close and caring community. Maybe now is also a good time to think about our own preparedness.

WATER: Where would you get water without the co-op or without power for a well? If you periodically drain your hot water heater even the water in the bottom should be relatively clear of sediment; you could draw water from its outlet to use for flushing the toilet. With a small filter you could purify that water removing sediment and use it for drinking water. How long would it last for your household, at a minimum of 1 gallon a day per person? Would you need help or tools? Melting snow works in winter to get water for flushing. Again, it may need filtering and boiling or purification to provide drinking water. Remember it may take 10 inches of snow to make 1 inch of water! FOOD: Canned food is something most of us have, and hopefully a can opener too. Check the variety on hand and ask, Is it the type of food that would sustain us, maybe for days?” Protein bars and other dry food may be useful too. Paper plates and plastic forks can lessen the need for water for washing.

LIGHT: Flashlights are known to be holders for dead batteries. Recently battery-free lights have become available. These you either shake or wind up. Chemical light tubes are an inexpensive safe alternative to candles.

FUEL: Wood is the local back-up of choice, and for many our main heat source. We can cook with it too if we're prepared with the right kinds of pots. Would you be ready? Would you need to have other fuels on hand: extra gasoline for a generator or chain saw?

MEDICATIONS: If you rely on an electric oxygen generator, what is your back-up system? Would you have medications for several days or know how to get prescriptions renewed and sent to another location if you are displaced?

FIRST AID is important. Have ways to keep clean, even when water is in short supply. Antibacterial wet-wipes or gels, are helpful. Bandages and antiseptics help reduce infection of cuts and open wounds, especially when our immune systems are stressed from heat, cold, hunger, thirst, toil, lack of sleep or worry.

COMMUNICATIONS: When the electricity goes out the phone system is kept operating by large batteries, at least for awhile. After that, communication may be only one-way, via a battery powered AM radio, maybe your car radio. Local first responders use two-way radios to communicate with the county and each other. Know who in your area is a member of the local fire department.

MONEY: Do you depend on a check coming in the mail? Consider direct deposit and a way to get to use that money, such as checks, a debit card or a credit card that can be paid by phone, in case you need to live away from your home for awhile.

Disaster planning is something we all need, and thinking ahead not only helps us as individuals, it helps us be good neighbors in this great community.