Writer: Jane Moorman, 505-249-0527, firstname.lastname@example.org
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - If a natural disaster occurred, could you live in your home without help for three days or could you leave your home in 10 minutes with what you needed to live in a shelter?
In 2013, New Mexicans dealt with evacuation from their homes because of wildland fire and flood. Others experienced electrical outages that lasted several days. No one knows when they will have to deal with such experiences. All they can do is be prepared.
New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service and the Southwest Border Food Safety and Defense Center have created workshop curriculum on emergency preparedness for the home to help the general public be aware of what they need to do before an incident occurs.
One of the center's goals is to have New Mexicans prepared for the many disasters that can occur in the semi-arid Southwest. It has worked with county governments to have plans for agricultural-related situations. Now the center wants to help the individual citizens be ready to respond to emergency situations.
"This training is an attempt to move communities to preparedness," said Kelly Hamilton, co-director of the center. "The more that individual people prepare as a solo person, as a family, and as a community, the better off they are going to be when something happens."
While state agencies and government initiatives are ready to respond to disasters, Hamilton said the reality is that the individual citizen needs to be self-sustainable for at least three days before help and assistance may arrive.
The center has asked Cooperative Extension Service home economists across the state to offer training that will help their county residents be prepared.
"As I began developing a curriculum on this subject, I couldn't find a program that was a good fit for Albuquerque and New Mexico," said Cindy Schlenker Davies, Bernalillo County Extension home economist. "So I decided to create one for our specific needs."
Among the people attending Davies' food preservation and canning classes was a resource for developing such a program. Cynthia Beiser served four years as the disaster preparedness officer at McClellan Air Force Base at Sacramento, Calif. She agreed to help design the preparedness curriculum.
"We are developing workshops targeting various aspects of preparedness," Beiser said. "There are many different scenarios within a home - medically fragile family member, elderly, children and pets - where a family needs to have a plan for what they will do during an emergency evacuation or power outage."
The workshops will be offered to any group - civic, church, community center, schools, neighborhood watch - that wishes to help its members prepare. The length and depth of the program is flexible to the audience's needs and desires.
"The workshops focus on the home," Davies said. "First, you want to plan for yourself and your family, and then we want to be able to help those around us, which would be our neighbors or our next level of family."
The first question is: Could you survive in your home for at least three days without outside help. Second: Could you leave your home with a 10-minute notice not knowing when you will return, or if there will be a house there when you do return?
Classes address how to create meals with whatever you have in your cupboard, how to store food and water for your family, medicines, light sources, building a stove or oven.
"One of the things we also talk about is having a Go Bag," Davies said. "This contains the documents about your life - marriage license, medical records and prescriptions, passport, pet medical records, and legal documents such as will, power of attorney, insurance policy information, bank account numbers, and, even, copies of utility bills for account information."
The Go Bag also includes appropriate clothing for the weather conditions, toiletries, medical supplies, sturdy shoes, first aid kit, pet supplies and items to entertain the family's children.
The training will address things people need so they can be self-sustainable for three days if a small disaster occurs, or for three weeks if major damage occurs to the local area, or for three months if a national emergency occurs.
"We want people to be aware of what they will need in such emergencies including food and water," Beiser said. "People need to start thinking about and taking action so they will be prepared for an emergency situation. These classes teach you to become more self-sufficient so emergency responders have time for others not as prepared and more in need."
For more information about available workshops, or to schedule one in the Albuquerque area for a specific group, contact Davis at email@example.com or 505-243-1386.
Text for insert
Food Storage Goal
Basic Needs per Person
1-1.5 pounds of high-energy, non-perishable food
1 gallon of drinking water per day
© 2013 New Mexico State University Board of Regents
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