Health and Fitness

Are you prepared to stay safe and sound in an emergency?

By Staci Matlock
editor@taosnews.com
Posted 11/14/18

Staying healthy and fit means being prepared when there's a natural or man-made disaster.Last weekend's snowstorm was a reminder to stay prepared for …

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Health and Fitness

Are you prepared to stay safe and sound in an emergency?

Posted

Staying healthy and fit means being prepared when there's a natural or man-made disaster.

Last weekend's snowstorm was a reminder to stay prepared for emergencies of all kinds.

Fire season in Northern New Mexico requires one kind of preparation - having a bag or box prepped with important papers, medicines, and change of clothes in case one needed to evacuate quickly.

Winter means preparing in other ways - for getting unexpectedly snowbound in a vehicle or losing power for an extended time in one's home. These instances are rare, but not unheard of in New Mexico. And when they happen, those who are prepared can ride the emergencies out safely.

In 2011, a natural gas supply glitch prompted New Mexico Gas to shut off fuel to more than 28,000 people in Northern New Mexico, including Taos; some were without heat for more than a week during the worst cold spell to hit the region in four decades. In 2006, a three-day snowstorm before New Year's dumped a record amount of snow across New Mexico, trapping hundreds of people in vehicles along Interstate 25 and elsewhere around the region.

Those situations can occur again, especially in a winter like this when meteorologists are predicting a lot of snow.

In your vehicle, keep a bag with extra clothes, gloves, wool socks and caps. Keep some nonperishable snacks there too and a wool or fold-up reflective "space" blanket along with some hand and feet warmers. Keep a first-aid kit, flashlight and extra batteries there too along with tow straps and jumper cables in case you or someone else needs help with a stuck vehicle.

Chris Medina, head of Taos County emergency services, said the best thing you can do to stay safe in a snowstorm is "stay home. If you don't need to be on the road, don't be on the road."

If you do have to go somewhere in the snow, leave yourself extra time to get where you are going, so you aren't rushing to get there, especially early in the winter. "People forget how to drive in the snow," Medina said. "A lot of rollovers we see are because people are in a hurry."

At home, keep several extra cans of food, nuts and other nonperishables that you can eat without cooking should you need to, along with a couple gallons of water for each person in the household. Make sure you have some candles with matches nearby and a working flashlight handy. If you have a cell phone, keep the battery charged; an extra battery pack can come in handy during extended power outages as well.

If you use solar-powered outdoor garden lights, those can easily be plucked from the ground and stuck in a vase to provide great light into the night when power goes out.

People with elderly family members on oxygen should make sure they have an extra tank and a battery backup in case there is a power failure. In addition, Medina advised, people should make sure they have extra medications in case a storm prevents them from getting to a pharmacy for a refill. "Don't wait to get a refill until you are on your last pill in a snowstorm," Medina said.

Try to arrange alternate ways to stay warm in case there's a power failure. Medina said some of the calls emergency technicians respond to are at extremely cold houses where elderly people are living. Propane and kerosene heaters are available but be sure you vent the house when using them to ensure deadly fumes don't build up.

Make sure you put fresh batteries each winter in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.

And if you can afford to, invest in a gas-powered generator or solar-powered battery packs, both of which are excellent backups for when the electricity goes out.

Find a list of top user-rated solar powered flashlights at bestreviews.guide/solar-powered-flashlights

For more information about staying prepared for disasters, check out ready.gov.

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