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What Will You Do When The Power Goes Out?

Submitted by Dave Wolin

It may not seem like it, but we live in a dangerous area. At any moment, the Long Valley Caldera and Mammoth Mountain could explode, decimating Central California.

We’re only 100 miles from the San Andreas fault; a major earthquake could destroy most of Madera County. A fire like the Harlow Fire of 1961 could wipe out our homes and businesses in an amazingly short time. A rapid spring snow melt could produce cataclysmic flooding.However, the most serious emergency of recent years was the March snow emergency and power outage of two years ago. It should have taught us a few lessons and watching the response to Superstorm Sandy on the east coast should have taught us a few more. Many of us weren’t very well prepared and expected others (i.e. the county or state) to provide assistance that should not have been expected or supplied.

Here in Eastern Madera County, we don’t have the benefits (or disadvantages) of big city living; we need to take care of ourselves and accept some personal responsibility for our well being. And more importantly, we need to watch out for our neighbors who may not be able to take care of themselves.

So, to be prepared for a major power outage you should have:

– A generator and a supply of fuel (stored safely; with fuel stabilizer). A 5,000-watt generator will run your well pump, refrigerator, maybe your pellet stove, a few lights and the TV. You may recall some people didn’t have power for a week.

– Stockpile some emergency supplies; it may be a few days before the roads are passable or stores are open. So have some bottled water (1 gallon per person per day), a stock of nonperishable, easily prepared food; a flashlight and spare batteries are the minimum.

– Remember dog and cat food too.Power lines down

– Don’t wait until you’re down to your last pill to refill your prescriptions.

– If you heat with wood, keep some nearby, rather than 200 feet away where it may be buried under a few feet of snow.

– Develop an emergency plan; know how to contact your family and friends.

– Keep your car full of gas.

– If you have a landline phone, it should NOT require power to run. Sierra Telephone will sell you one for $9.95.

– If you have a cell phone, get a car charger. And if you have a smartphone, watch your e-mail and Facebook for the latest news from the community.

– Consider getting a power inverter so you can plug in to your car.

– Know where the shelters are; some community centers and a number of area churches have generators, showers and emergency supplies.

– Please register your cellphone number with the sheriff’s office. The reverse 911 system can call your landline in an emergency but you need to register your cell phone to participate in that system. Visit www.mcalert.org for details.

– Check on your neighbors who may not have communication capabilities.

The Eastern Madera County Emergency Preparedness Committee has developed a communications network through churches, schools, community organizations and service clubs in order to maintain contact under difficult circumstances (primarily via the internet through e-mail and facebook, and telephone) and provide both assistance and direction to those who need it.

In times of emergency, and to disseminate information whenever required, this network will check on neighbors and friends and advise them to do the same with their circle of acquaintances.

Want to join? Just go to the Eastern Madera County Chamber of Commerce website, www.oakhurstchamber.com and click on the “join our e-mail list” button. Then sign in with your e-mail address and make sure you check the “emergency information” box.

Meanwhile our network will have people on your street and in your neighborhood, more than willing to help. You should also learn about the emergency plans set in place by our local county emergency services office.

Want to volunteer to help? Contact Emergency Preparedness Committee Chairman Dave Wolin at 760-1143 or e-mail davewolin@earthlink.net

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