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.