Be Prepared For Natural Disaster in New Mexico
In the wake of mega-storms like Hurricane Harvey and Irma along the coasts of Texas and Florida, it can be easy to think that the damage is unique to them and that disasters on that scale could never happen here.While we hope that something of that size never hits New Mexicans, the simple fact is that natural disaster at home can feel devastating whether it affects the entire state or just one neighborhood.
Each year seems to be a record-setting year when it comes to New Mexican natural disasters. Even as a recent wildfire the size of New York City was being fought, the next disaster was seemingly right around the corner.
“There are also a lot more people living on the edge of the wilderness than there were decades ago, raising the risks of every wildfire,” the Guardian newspaper said then. “Even as the fire raged, government officials were out in Glenwood warning of the next disaster about to unfold: extreme floods. When the rains do begin, the summer thunderstorms are expected to flush out the ash and burnt logs from the megafire into the Whitewater Creek, depositing the charred debris on Glenwood.”
Be Prepared For Disasters
“Protect yourself and your loved ones by making an emergency plan,” says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Families can make emergencies less stressful by preparing in advance and working together as a team.”
Disasters such as tornadoes can have advanced warning systems, but other emergencies may seem to come out of nowhere. It’s best to be prepared ahead of time, rather than reacting in the moment.
- Make a family communication plan – Family members may be in different locations during a disaster. Have a plan to contact each other.
- Have an emergency contact – Preferably someone located out of town that can be contacted and notified if you are in distress or OK.
- Have an escape plan – Have a plan for where to meet, how to escape a house, where to go in the house if a disaster hits, etc.
- Have an emergency kit at home – This includes a first-aid kit, non-perishable foods and water for the aftermath of the storm, and a radio to keep track of the disaster.
- Be prepared for the aftermath – There may be no power, no internet or cell service after a disaster. Make a list of important information such as phone numbers, medical information, vehicle information, and bank’s telephone number and banking information and store in a safe place.
- Have important documents in a fire-proof safe – This can include birth certificates, ownership certificates for vehicles, social security cards, insurance policies, photographs of contents of every room, and photographs of high-value items such as jewelry, paintings and collector’s items.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Be Prepared for Specific Disasters
“Before making your disaster plan, it’s important to know what types of emergencies are likely in your area and the best way to respond,” cautions the CDC. “For example, if tornadoes are common in your area, you will need to know what the warning signs are and where to take shelter.”
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) says that wildfires can occur anywhere and anytime. They’ve developed a comprehensive safety guide on their website. Their guide suggests these main steps:
- Be aware that a “fire watch” means that “dangerous fire weather conditions are possible over the next 12 to 72 hours.”
- Keep a car fueled and ready to go.
- Make a wildfire plan.
- Prepare your home.
- Follow authorities recommendations when its safe to return home.
Source: FEMA and the “How to Prepare for a Wildfire” guide
“According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) there is no guaranteed safety during a tornado. Indeed, we must take seriously even the possibility of a tornado,” said the
CDC.The CDC recommends:
- Know what a “tornado watch” is and “tornado warning” is, and the difference between them.
- Have firmly in mind what a safe shelter is (such as the basement of a home or at a school).
- Develop a tornado emergency plan.
- Practice the emergency plan with drills for all family members.
- If possible, turn off utilities at the main switches and valves before the tornado strikes.
- Remove possible hazards such as a furniture that fall, pictures on walls, and avoid using gas items during or after a tornado.
Source: CDC Being Prepared for Tornadoes
Though not as common in New Mexico, there have been earthquakes here over the years – some killing dozens and costing millions of dollars in damage.
“The real key to surviving an earthquake and reducing your risk of injury lies in planning, preparing, and practicing what you and your family will do if it happens,” the CDC said. In addition to the above steps, the CDC recommends the following during an earthquake:
- Drop down to your hands and knees before you fall down
- Cover your neck and head (or whole body) under a table or desk.
- Stay clear of glass or windows
- If inside, stay inside
- Do not stand in a doorway, but go under a table and hold on until it stops.
For more emergency preparedness tips
How to have good hygiene after a disaster.