the Fire Dog, as interpreted by Patrick Reitz, Idyllwild Fire Chief

I have to laugh every time a major disaster strikes. Somehow the media always manages to find someone who declares that they never thought it could happen where they live or that it would ever happen to them. Why? Did they not realize that they live in a fault zone prone to earthquakes? Or an area prone to fires, or tornadoes or floods? The list can go on and on.

Are you prepared? Maybe you are ready. Maybe you think you are ready? Maybe you have been planning on getting prepared? Maybe you know you are not ready and either think that it can not happen here, can not happen to you or that someone will help you if it does happen.

The reality of a disaster is when the big one hits — earthquake, fire, flood, tornado, tsunami, volcano, or significant weather event — we are told to be prepared for at least three days without help. I am telling you that you should plan on preparing yourself and your household for at least seven days, if not as long as 28 days, with limited outside help.

Now it is easy to think that a case of bottled water and a few energy bars will get you by — wrong. On the other hand, I am not talking Armageddon or the complete breakdown of society as we know it; so I am not suggesting the need to become a survivalist. I just want you to be prepared.

Since this is only the second in a series, I am not going to try and cover everything about emergency preparedness all at once. This week I want you to think about a couple of key points that are often overlooked.

If you are on medications, do you have, at least, an extra one-week supply, if not a 30-day supply over and above your normal refill schedule?

This can be an expensive item, but what if you were to be near the end of your 30 or 90 days of medications and were unable to get a refill because the roads are closed or the stores can not get their supply?

This may require you to pay for an extra supply out-of-pocket but I would encourage you to consider it, even if you have to do it over time.

Second homes, vacation homes
For many of you, the Hill is your escape and your home away from home. For others, the Hill is your primary residence and you have a second home or vacation home somewhere else, say, the desert. Either way, you need to be prepared at both places, since we really do not know where or when a disaster might strike.

Weather and time of year
Probably the most overlooked or forgotten issues when it comes to disaster preparedness are weather and the time of year.

It is easy to prepare yourselves for an emergency when the weather is perfect. Even emergency service providers tend to train when the weather is nice. But disaster can strike any time of day or night, any day of the week or month of the year. Therefore, we need to plan as such.

What if last week’s earthquake had been stronger and in the middle of the big snow storm? Or when the rains hit earlier this year? Would that have changed how you should be prepared?

It was supposed to be near 80 degrees this week here on the Hill, how would that change your emergency planning? Coming up, we will discuss water supply, food, power, fuel, and even pets.

Get involved!
Here are some additional resources to consider: Mountain Disaster Preparedness, or MDP; Community Emergency Response Team (CERT); American Red Cross (; and Federal Emergency Management Agency (

As always, I welcome your comments and questions. Please feel free to contact me care of the Town Crier or [email protected].

I’ve got some smells to sniff …

Remember to play it safe in all that you do!