Our region is prone to the potential of disasters including wildfires, floods, and earthquakes. September is National Preparedness Month, and Washoe County, City of Reno, City of Sparks, Washoe County Sheriff’s Office, Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District, and REMSA Health remind residents to be prepared in case a disaster strikes. We all have a role to play when it comes to an emergency incident.
Local public and first responder agencies encourage residents to sign up for Code Red, a reverse 9-1-1 system that will notify citizens of emergency and evacuation information. Recently, Washoe County Emergency Management enhanced emergency notifications with Perimeter, a new mapping software that allows first responders to enter incident locations and draw a perimeter around evacuation zones or map road closures, and instantly share with the public.
Traditional means of notification remain important today such as the Emergency Alert System (EAS), a national warning system allowing authorized officials to broadcast emergency alerts and warning messages to the public via cable, satellite, or broadcast television, and both AM/FM and satellite radio.
Additionally, public agencies rely on our local media partners to report timely emergency information. Check all types of media – internet, newspapers, radio, TV – for local information and updates. Regional governments and first responder organizations in the Truckee Meadows have made it a priority to disseminate timely and important emergency information through social media and other digital means.
If conditions warrant and are safe, as a last resort, first responders may travel through neighborhoods with sirens and may go door to door to notify residents of imminent evacuations and other important messages.
Citizens have responsibilities in an emergency. It is important to remember that if you are asked to evacuate, you have minutes, not hours. You must heed the calls of first responders and go! First responders often have little time to follow up and ensure nearby residents evacuate once announcements are made to leave their homes and neighborhoods.
Know your escape route(s) and all options available to exit your community. Prepare ahead of time a plan of how you will leave, and where you will go, and practice.
It is important to prepare for a power outage. Know how to open your automatic garage door or entry gate should the power fail. Have flashlights with fresh batteries on hand. Stay calm. Prepare to be self-sufficient for at least three days.
This may mean providing for your own shelter, first aid, food, water, and sanitation. It is also critical to ensure you have prescription medications on hand. Make plans with your family and friends in case you’re not together during an emergency. Discuss how you’ll contact each other, where you’ll meet, and what you’ll do in different situations. Participate in practice drills with loved ones.
If you have neighbors with disabilities or elderly, hard of hearing, or sight impaired, reach out and help them become informed and prepared.
Have a plan in place for pets. If local officials ask you to evacuate, that means your pet should evacuate too. If you leave your pets behind, they may end up lost, injured, or worse.
Being prepared can reduce fear, anxiety, and losses that accompany disasters. Communities, families, and individuals should know what to do in the event of a wildfire, powerful storm or other catastrophic events that disrupt our daily lives. They should be ready to evacuate their homes, take refuge in public shelters or have other accommodations planned, and know how to care for their basic medical needs.
Adam Mayberry, Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District
Bethany Drysdale, Washoe County