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Be Prepared for Natural Disaster

Floods, Wildfires, Earthquakes can Strike Reno and Sparks

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Which Natural Disasters Strike Reno, Sparks and Northern Nevada?

Floods, wildfires, and earthquakes are the biggest natural disaster concerns in the Reno region. A couple of others - blizzards and high winds - can be hazardous at the time, but are usually of lesser concern than the first three. Another is drought, which is a huge issue, though not something that occurs suddenly with immediate danger to life and property. Power outages that accompany disasters can be a serious issue when it comes to things like health problems, staying warm, and staying connected to vital information.

Being prepared is the key to safely getting through these situations. Though every natural disaster has its unique features, there are some general guidelines to being ready and coming out the other side in one piece.

Create an Emergency Plan

Disaster can strike suddenly, leaving you little time to react. Having an emergency plan in place will allow you to react quickly to protect lives and property.

  • Involve everyone in your household.
  • Discuss potential emergencies and how to respond to each emergency, such as power outage, earthquake, fire or flood.
  • Draw a floor plan of your home showing two escape routes from each room and practice your escape plan every 6 months.
  • Pick two meeting places - a place near home for localized events like a fire, and a place away from your neighborhood in case you can't return home following a disaster.
  • Post emergency phone numbers near telephones and program them into cellphones.
  • Teach children how to dial 911 for police and fire. Teach them how to make long distance phone calls.
  • Chose one out-of-state and one local friend or relative for family members to call if you become separated by a disaster.
  • Know how to turn off the water, gas, and electricity at your home.
  • Instruct household members to turn on the radio for emergency information.
  • Make sure household members know where emergency kits are stored.
  • Consider creating a plan for frequently visited locations – school, work, after-school and weekend activities, etc.

Assemble an Emergency Kit

During a disaster, you may lose access to the places and things you take for granted every day - home, vehicles, workplace, stores, banks, gas stations, schools, government services, etc. That's when having a proper emergency kit could make the difference between surviving relatively intact or suffering from lack of preparation. Assemble your emergency kit while things are normal and update it annually. Store your kit supplies in easy-to-carry containers. Backpacks or duffle bags are ideal. Here are some suggested items, though your individual needs may call for different and/or additional items.

  • At least a 72-hour supply of water (1 gallon per person per day). Date containers and replace every six months.
  • At least a 72-hour supply of non-perishable packaged or canned food.
  • Non-electric can opener.
  • Change of clothing, rain gear and sturdy shoes for every person in your household.
  • Blankets and/or sleeping bags.
  • First aid kit and prescription medications.
  • Battery-powered radio, flashlight and lots of extra batteries.
  • Cash (during a power outage, debit cards, credit cards, and ATMs won't work).
  • Extra set of car keys.
  • List of important family information (birth certificates, insurance information, etc).
  • Model and serial numbers of medical devices.
  • Entertainment – games, books, puzzles, etc. - things that don't require batteries.
  • Special items for infants, elderly or disabled family members.

It's also a good idea to keep an emergency kit in your car in case you get stuck away from home. This is possible during either a disaster or heavy winter weather. You can get a list of suggested items from "Reno Area Winter Driving and Snow Removal."

Get Information During a Disaster

Multiple methods are used by local Washoe County authorities to inform the public during disasters. It is suggested that you have access to all of these systems to ensure you can get the latest information.

  • Media press releases provided to local radio, television, newspapers, and government webmasters.
  • Emergency Alert System (EAS). Messages are broadcast through radio and television and are also known as earthquake or severe weather alert systems.
  • Code Red Notification System. This system is used for reverse telephone notification and uses a series of remote computers and telephones lines to relay a recorded message to land line phone numbers. Note that traditional reverse dialing systems will not call your cell phone. To sign up with a land line, unlisted number, or if you want to list your cell or work phone number for emergency notifications through Code Red, you can sign up online.
  • AlertID. Free online web service provides instant, two-way communications between citizens and federal, state, and local authorities to provide immediate information on crime, terrorism or natural disasters that can threaten the safety of your family and community. Sign up online for AlertID.

Natural Disasters Strike Reno, Sparks and Northern Nevada
Photos © Stan White

Include Pets in Disaster Preparedness Planning

Pets are part of your family and should not be left behind if it can be avoided. When planning for pets, remember that not all emergency shelters accept animals. Contact your veterinarian for a list of preferred boarding kennels and facilities. Identify hotels or motels outside of your immediate area that accept pets and ask friends or relatives if they would be willing to take in your pet in the event of an emergency. For a summary of dealing with pets during a disaster, refer to "Disaster Preparation for Pets and their Families" from Washoe County Regional Animal Services.

  • Water for 3 to 7 days.
  • Canned or dry food (rotate every 2 months) for 3 to 7 days.
  • Extra collar or harness and leash.
  • Disposable litter trays.
  • Litter or paper toweling.
  • Disposable garbage bags for clean-up.
  • Pet feeding dishes.
  • Pet carriers, cages.
  • Photocopies of medical records and a two-week supply of any pet medications.
  • Current photo of your pet in case you need to make "Lost" posters.
  • Especially for cats: pillowcase, toys, scoopable litter.
  • Especially for dogs: extra leash, toys and chew toys, extra cage liner.

Other Sources of Disaster Information

Here are links to additional information about disaster preparedness in the Reno region.

Sources: Washoe County government, University of Nevada, Reno

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