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Disaster preparedness can save finances

Most of us live in Arizona for the year-round warm weather and the lack of natural disasters. That doesn't mean we shouldn't have a plan of action when an emergency hits.

Common occurrences in the state are wildfires, floods and haboobs. Here are a few things to cross off your to-do list before disaster hits.

Identify possible disasters that may affect you. Figure out which are likely to happen near you. If you live in the city it may be dust storms. If you're in the high country or a forest area, beware of wildfires. The monsoon season can bring plenty of rain causing major flooding and disruption to electricity.

2. Learn about each one

Haboobs -- These dust storms are usually seen during monsoon season and are a visible occurrence. The sky is filled with a blanket of dust that can affect visibility for miles. Be aware of dust storm warnings and know what to do if you're caught driving in one.

Wildfires -- Whether human-caused or ignited by nature, wildfires can spread quickly. Firefighters are battling the Doce Fire near Prescott. If you're going camping check fire restrictions. Never leave a campsite without making sure the fire is completely out and evacuate if authorities tell you so.

Floods -- Monsoon season lasts all summerlong in Arizona. Major flooding can be expected if heavy rains fall and some areas in the Valley are more prone to flooding than others. Last year, Anthem-area residents were caught in what was known as a 1-in-1,000 year flood. Rural areas are also prone to flooding. Never drive into an area that is barricaded because of flooding. Learn more about the Arizona Stupid Motorist Law here.

Power outages -- Be prepared for sudden outages with useful items to pass the time safely.

3. Gather medications and important documents and take shelter. We may not be in earthquake or tornado territory but that doesn't mean we can't follow some rules of thumb to manage any emergency situation.

Emergency management officials recommend having an evacuation plan that includes meeting places, shelter instruction and how to behave when disaster hits can save you life.

Keep important documents such as insurance policies, passports, IDs, titles and photos in one place. This can save time during an emergency and ease follow-up with agencies afterwards.

Safety officials recommend having medications ready to bring if evacuations are needed. Money for food and gas is also important to have ready in case of an emergency.

Have an emergency kit and non-perishable foods stored. If you have to take refuge in your home have a first-aid kit ready. Since you never know how long you'll be stuck in a home without electricity, make sure to have enough to eat for at least 2-3 days for each member of the family.

4. Take prompt action after a significant event.

Research whom to call for what. Know your insurance policy and address it in a prompt matter.

Keep a record of anyone you who speak to, phone numbers and ID numbers.

Remember, being prepared can save you a lot of money in the long run, including peace of mind knowing you and your family will be ready in case disaster strikes.

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About the Author

Martha is the traffic controller in the KTAR newsroom. Her full time role is that of Assignment and Breaking News Editor of KTAR News. She oversees daily Breaking News planning and over-the air execution, and puts together the elements that make it happen. She gathers and distributes daily news assignments to reporters and editors. She also reports on a daily basis, anchors news afternoons 1-2p and fills in as anchor occasionally during other time slots. She began working at KTAR in the winter of 2012 as Desk Editor and was promoted to oversee Assignments and Breaking News in 2014. During that time, she received two awards as a journalist. The first was the 2013 APTRA Awards, where she took home 2nd place for Best Serious Future in the "Recycled Orchestra." The second was a 2014 Edward R. Murrow Award for her collaboration in KTAR's Voice for a Better Arizona Series: Immigration - seeking solutions. In her piece, Martha profiled two Arizona sisters looking for the DREAM. Martha was born in Mazatlan, Mexico. She moved to Arizona in 1996 with her parents and younger sister and has lived here since. She attended Barry Goldwater High School in Phoenix and graduated from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Arizona State University in Tempe. Prior to working at KTAR news she worked in news and production at Univision Arizona in Phoenix. She also supervised the marketing, catering and public relations department at Hotel Araiza, 5-star hotel in Mexicali, Mexico. She has also been a personal trainer and aerobics instructor. When she isn't in the newsroom or behind the microphone Martha is an avid gym-goer and marathoner. She trains for two races a year and enjoys taking group exercise classes, such as kickboxing, indoor cycling and weight lifting. Martha is married and lives in Surprise, AZ with 2 dogs, Tasha and Elsa, and a cat, Sammy.


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