COLORADO SPRINGS — It’s National Preparedness Month, and with the fires and storms and COVID all happening on the disaster scale, it’s perfect timing to remember that we should all be ready in case of an emergency.
We’ve seen so many evacuations in the west due to wildfires, and the Pikes Peak area can take steps in order to prepare for a situation like this before it happens.
Robin Adair with the Pikes Peak Office of Emergency Management says you should be ready to evacuate your neighborhood before the notice comes.
HOW TO PREPARE FOR AN EVACUATION
To be prepared to evacuate:
- Pack a kit that includes everything your family needs to be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours.
- Don’t forget communication: Print a hard copy list of phone numbers, a battery or solar-powered radio to monitor emergency notifications, and sign up for emergency notifications through PeakAlerts.org to get emergency notices.
- Don’t forget prescription medications, important documents, and take photos of a home inventory for insurance.
- Have your kit ready to grab at a moment’s notice because disasters don’t wait for you to get your stuff.
Keep in mind everyone's kit will be different depending on different needs.
HOW COVID COULD IMPACT YOUR EVACUATION
COVID will impact your evacuation, so Adair says you need to pre-pack COVID supplies now, too: hand sanitizer, masks for everyone, disinfectant cleaner, and maybe even medical gloves.
If you’re going to a shelter, it’s going to look different. In the Pikes Peak region, first preference will be setting up shelters where people aren’t congregated in big groups and making sure there’s room for social distancing.
Therefore, there may be many more locations, and there may be a limit on how many people can go to each location – so be ready to follow the instructions in the notifications and don’t assume you’re all going to one big high school gym to gather.
Adair explained you might be meeting in a parking lot and driving through a line one at a time to get more information. It’s going to be incident-specific.
Also, if your emergency plan is to go to a relative’s or friend’s house, ask yourself: are they medically compromised? Are they still okay with you going there? Have you talked about it in advance? You might need to have a plan B.
HOW TO PLAN AHEAD
Making a plan is an important part of preparedness. So, how do we do that?
Adair says you may need several plans, and they start with knowing what your personal, local risks are and considering how you would respond.
Talk over the possibilities with your loved ones and neighbors, and discuss what you need to react.
What if there’s a blizzard? What if there’s a flood? Tornado? Earthquake? Each plan might look a little different.
Adair stresses: don’t forget communication! Cell phone circuits are often overloaded, so try texting or get a radio license, or call someone out of state - that’s part of the plan. What if you’re separated at work, school, and home? Talk about it and share the plan with the people who would be part of it.
WANT TO GET TRAINED ON EMERGENCY RESPONSE SKILLS?
If you have a first aid kit, you can take advantage of some resources to learn how to properly use it.
Adair recommends you take a first aid class, or refresh your skills. You can organize your neighborhood community tree or host a neighborhood online meeting to talk about emergency planning. Read about preparedness skills.
You can also look for ways to step up the preparations you’ve already made.
Pikes Peak Community Response Training is usually available in person, and they're moving to a COVID-style online hybrid class next month.
The Pikes Peak Office of Emergency Management teaches a lot of skills. They will also attend your online meetings or provide you with materials if you’d like to learn more.
Other organizations that offer emergency training also have online or socially distanced options available now, too.