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Take a Proactive Approach to Emergency Planning

September is National Emergency Preparedness month and a good time to make sure you have a plan.

(TNS) - Are you and your family ready for an emergency?

Keeping cool might seem to be the big priority this time of year, but there are many natural disasters and man-made dilemmas that threaten us in the Land of Enchantment.

The New Mexico Family Emergency Preparedness Guide lists several potentially dangerous categories: earthquake, extreme heat, fire, flood, hazardous materials, household hazardous waste emergencies, terrorism, thunderstorms and lightning, tornado, wildfire, winter storms and extreme cold, pandemic influenza, landslides and volcanic eruption.

Admittedly some of those threats may be extremely rare, but they all have in something in common: Your chances of weathering or even surviving a crises could depend on preparations you make for you, your home and family, and have regular updates and conversations to make sure everyone is in the loop.

September is National Emergency Preparedness month and a good time to make sure you have a plan.

“Take a proactive approach to emergency awareness,” suggests David R. Almaguer, supervisor of the Doña Ana County-City of Las Cruces Office of Emergency Management, 1170 N, Solano Drive, Suite O, which currently has four employees.

“Have your own internal plan. And if your plan consists of dialing 911 for everything and any possible emergency, then you’re way behind the power curve,” Almaguer said.

“The No. 1 strategy is situational awareness. Be aware of the news. Too many people don’t pay attention to the weather and the majority of emergency issues are weather-related,” he said, adding that too often people can ignore some of the greatest dangers here like windstorms and floods.

“People who are born and raised here think they are immune,” he said, and don’t prepare adequately to protect themselves, their families, livestock and pets from common threats, as well as less frequent events like arctic storms.

Almaguer assumed his current post after retiring as chief of the Las Cruces Fire Department.

“I also served for more than 20 years with the Army National Guard. We were deployed at Katrina and I’ve also been in Iraq. I’ve seen a lot of good and bad. I’ve seen how important it is to drill and prepare,” he said.

The old saying: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, definitely applies to emergency readiness.

S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at 575-5450, or @derricksonmoore on Twitter.

Preparing for emergencies

• Make sure you’re informed about possible emergencies. Pay attention to the news.

• Evacuation and emergency meeting plans: Specify neighborhood and regional meeting places near your home, work, schools or other places frequently by you and members of your family.

• Assemble a list of emergency phone numbers. Teach children how and when to call 911 for help.

• Check with your insurance agent to make sure that your coverage is up to date and adequate.

• Make copies of important documents and keep them in a safe place: a safety deposit box, with a friend or relative and in a waterproof, fireproof container in your own home. Your collection could include local and out-of-town emergency contacts, household, car and health insurance policies, medical information, doctors, pharmacists, veterinarian/kennel for pets credit card information, and identification (birth dates/certificates, Social Security numbers, passports, drivers’ license, etc.) Take photos or make a videotape of your belongings and your home.

• Take a first aid and CPR class.

• Make sure you have smoke detectors on each floor and especially near bedrooms. Test monthly and change batteries every six months, when the time changes.

• Find safest spots in your home for various types of disasters. Determine the best escape routes from your home-find two ways out of each room, if possible.

Emergency supplies

• You might want to devote a shelf in your pantry or a cabinet to basic supplies such as bottled water, non-perishable food items that don’t require cooking or heating (use and replace about every six months), a flashlight, batteries, a battery-powered radio or a devise to recharge your cell phone, tablet or other electronic device that does not require an outside power source.

• Have a fire extinguisher on hand.

First aid kits

• You can buy first aid kits at a variety of stores and online sources, and you may decide you need more than one for various locations, such as home, office, car, RV, etc.

• Options include customizing your own kit with a waterproof container, basic supplies such as bandages, scissors, gauze and antiseptics, over-the-counter pain killers and perhaps prescription medications or other special needs items.

• The American Red Cross offers kits that range from $3 for a personal pocket first aid kit to $200 for a large workplace first aid kit in a metal cabinet.

• To purchase a kit or get ideas about what to put in a kit you create yourself, visit

Family meeting

• After you’ve made your plans, share them with your family. Discuss escape routes and strategies, and places to meet if you are separated. Practice fire and emergency drills and meet regularly to review and update your plans.


Doña Ana County-City of Las Cruces Office of Emergency Management, 1170 N. Solano Drive, Suite 0, 2nd floor, Las Cruces, 575-647-7900, TDD: 575-525-5951,

Sources: Doña Ana County-City of Las Cruces Office of Emergency Management, FEMA, New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.


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