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OPINION: Prepare now for disasters


Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District Fire Chief Charlie Moore

By Charles Moore, Fire Chief, Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District

September is National Preparedness Month, and it is an excellent time to pause and think about what you need to do to prepare yourself and your family if disaster strikes. Here in northern Nevada, some of our most common critical events include wildfires, floods, earthquakes, and even extreme heat events. Our area is also prone to high wind conditions that can put lives in danger and cause property damage. All of these events could impact the power grid or a water main. Now is the time to prepare.

When disaster strikes, Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District and our regional partners urge all residents to sign up to receive critical emergency notifications through the CodeRED system. To receive alerts, you must register your mobile phone number. These emergency notifications can include evacuation notices, shelter information, and other timely messages to keep you and your family members safe and informed.

We want to make sure our community stays informed during times of crisis, and CodeRED alerts are an integral part of this effort. It takes just a few minutes to sign up. Disasters are not planned, but we can plan ahead by signing up. Search CodeRED on the County’s website at www.washoecounty.us.

It is also an excellent time to become familiar with your neighborhood’s evacuation routes and identify multiple ways to leave the area. And don’t forget to have a plan for pets and livestock.

Prepare a “go bag” with the essentials sufficient enough to get you through three days. Keep in mind each person’s specific needs, such as medications. Have plenty of water, food items, blankets, and a first aid kit that includes flashlights and fresh batteries. It is recommended to have an N95 rated mask to keep particles out of the air you breathe during a wildfire event. And don’t forget to keep important documents in a fireproof safe.

When it comes to wildfires, I cannot stress enough the importance of defensible space. Defensible space is a fire-resistant zone that is free of leaves, debris, or flammable materials that extends 30 feet away from your home. Truckee Meadows Firefighters have suppressed many wildfires in Washoe County. Without a doubt, defensible space makes a significant impact on the survivability of a home.

I strongly recommended that you evacuate your home should law enforcement or fire personnel ask you to do so. Pay attention to local television or radio for emergency alerts and current information and instructions. If you feel unsafe in your home during a wildfire, don’t wait to be told to leave – evacuate!

Other valuable disaster preparedness resources include the American Red Cross at www.redcross.org and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security at www.ready.gov. While we cannot stop disasters from occurring, we can be better prepared when disaster strikes.

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