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Sandy Journal

City offers resources to help residents prepare for an emergency

Aug 03, 2020 11:38AM ● By Stephanie DeGraw

Sandy City personal practicing Emergency Exercises (left to right)  Lenore Corey (Fire), Robert DeKorver (Fire), Jon Arnold (Police) and Ryan McConaghie (Fire). (Photo courtesy Sandy City) 

By Stephanie DeGraw | [email protected]

Sandy City wants residents to be ready if ever they are abruptly awakened by an earthquake or fire.

"We never know when an emergency may occur, whether at home, work or in your vehicle," said Kim Bell, chief administrative officer/interim emergency manager. "When something bad happens, time is of the essence; mere seconds make the difference."

By being prepared, one can remain calm and composed in the event of an emergency. Being able to grab a prepared "Go Bag" is helpful, especially during times of high fire danger.

"With the recent wildfires in Utah, residents had very little time to get out of their homes. Having an emergency Go Bag provides you with the bare essentials you will need. It is optimal to have enough supplies for 72 hours of food and shelter options. It is important to update these kits regularly, at least once a year, especially for the seasons we experience in Utah," Bell said.

Some of the items in a Go Bag need to include a tarp, sleeping bag, extra clothes, hat, socks, gloves and blankets. Additionally, the kit should consist of canned and dry food and cooking supplies such as can opener, utensils, bowl, cookware and fuel. And, don’t forget water, too, for all family members and pets.

Other helpful items to have are a water purification kit, flashlights and candles. Also, have a mini hygiene kit to put into your bag. Include toothbrushes, toothpaste, wet wipes, shampoo, soap, hand sanitizer, toilet paper and towel. Most people remember the first-aid kit when thinking about emergencies. Items to include aspirin, bandages, bug spray, antibiotic cream and lip moisturizer.

In addition to preparing a bag, Bell suggests having a family fire escape plan to ensure a safe evacuation for everyone, including pets. Have a meeting with your family to discuss and practice your plan. Draw a basic outline of your home, showing all doors and windows on the map. Visit each room together and identify two ways out (typically a door and a window). Mark these on your map.

While in each room, check all smoke alarms by pushing the test button. Replace batteries on your smoke detector once or twice a year. Make sure children are familiar with the sound of the smoke alarm and they know what to do when they hear it. Agree on a meeting place outside away from your home such as a mailbox, tree or the neighbor's house. Make sure everyone knows how to call 911. Practice your plan through a family fire drill.

Also, it is advisable to check your home to prevent fires. Keep roof and gutters clean of debris. Any combustibles need to be at least 50 feet from your home. Check that your landscape has fire-resistant bushes, and keep your yard free of dead plants.

Another way to protect your family is to learn CPR. The chance of survival falls 10% for every minute a person goes without CPR if needed. Many deaths are preventable if someone trained in CPR provides prompt, life-saving measures until trained professionals take over. The Sandy City Fire Department offers American Heart Association Heartsaver First Aid and adult/child/infant CPR and AED training. Training includes a certification card through the American Heart Association and is valid for two years. To register for an upcoming class, visit the Sandy Fire Department website. 

To get involved with community efforts of being prepared in case of an emergency, one can sign up on the city website to be a disaster volunteer. "We are currently revising this program.

Volunteers typically take online FEMA courses and participate in our CERT program," Bell said.

"Depending on their interest, we may connect them with other local emergency groups within Sandy City or nearby agencies."

Some of the program's residents can become involved in include the Citizen Corps Council, which is a connection between the city and the residents regarding

Emergency Preparedness issues. The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Class offered by Sandy City Fire Department has two 6-week classes each year in the winter and spring. (Subject to change due to COVID-19 restrictions.) These classes are free for city residents and $15 for non-residents. Residents learn fire safety, search and rescue, and medical operation skills and will practice what they learned in a mock disaster drill. Email [email protected]

Lastly, Ready Your Business is a Sandy's Emergency Management department program that helps local businesses meet to review emergency preparedness and share ideas for safety. The 12-point program provided by the State of Utah focuses on data protection, storage, recovery, and building inspections following a disaster. Also, it includes establishing a business emergency plan, conducting a vulnerability assessment, and designing workplace sheltering and evacuation plans. For more information, visit https://Utah.gov/beready.

If an emergency happens, Sandy City is ready to send out information immediately. "We post our Emergency Management tips and educational information on the city’s Facebook and Instagram pages, which has proven to be effective. They both have a large following," Bell said.

Sandy's Emergency Management department also posts articles in the city and employee newsletters. Visit them on Facebook at SandyCityUtah. Instagram is @SandyCityUtah and on Twitter follow at SandyCityUtah.

In addition to these channels, Sandy City has a multi-faceted emergency communication plan involving emails, text messaging and social media, including Nextdoor.com and reverse 911. The city also has an app called CityServe. 

“There are also other communication methods for local agencies that we work with regularly. And we have an alerts option for our residents to sign up for communication alerts at https://notifications.civicplus.com/UT-SandyCity," Bell said.

Another helpful document is "Your Personal Disaster Preparedness Planner" written by Sandy resident Barbara Salsbury. She is a nationally recognized personal preparedness expert. She explained the danger of not being prepared comes from lag time—the time between the emergency and when help arrives or things can be repaired and returned to normal. 

Any aftermath situations can last for weeks. During the lag time, you will be on your own to provide food, clothing and supplies for your family until the situation can be resolved, Salsbury said. Download a copy of the planner here.