Unless you are personally faced with a disaster it is hard to consider what you would do in such an event. Across the nation communities are faced with many disasters at a rate which requires some thought, such as those living in tornado alley, areas where hurricanes occur frequently, and other areas which suffer severe weather related emergencies frequently. Glimpses of natural disasters have made their way into our awareness, including the 1995 Klamath Falls earthquake, the 2010 Aumsville tornado, the 2011 tsunami that damaged areas of southern Oregon and northern California, and the tornado touching down near Lane Community College in Eugene this past April.

Typically, when surveyed, a southern Oregon resident will indicate wildfire as being their biggest threat. Disasters come in many forms, but the one characteristic of every disaster is preparedness. The preparedness spectrum is quite large and where one falls within this spectrum can vary greatly. Achieving preparedness is one that is easily achieved yet often overlooked due to denial of fate. Disasters can and do happen to everyone.

Where do you fall on the spectrum? According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), 60 percent of Americans are not prepared for disaster. Imagine what simple steps you could take to be prepared that would increase your rate of readiness. What comes to mind? If you are thinking, have an emergency plan, build a disaster supplies kit, be informed of hazards and how to mitigate risk, or get involved locally, then you are on the right track. Readiness is simple following the basic four tenets of FEMA: make a plan, build a kit, be informed, and get involved.

September is National Preparedness Month. America’s PreparAthon! urges Americans to consider the following weekly: Week 1 (Sept. 1-5, flood); Week 2 ( Sept. 6-12), wildfire; Week 3 (Sept. 13-19), hurricane; and Week 4 (Sept. 20-26), power outages.

Preparing for any disaster is better than preparing for nothing. Ask yourself how you might survive on your own without power if you could not leave your home, call for take-out, build a fire for warmth, etc. If you follow the basic tenets of preparedness you will be prepared to handle any disaster.

When getting prepared, households should tailor a plan and a kit that fits the individual needs of those in the household. Most, if not all, individuals have specific personal needs to consider when preparing. A disaster supply kit is simply a collection of basic items your household may need in the event of an emergency assembled in one location. Remember to share your plan with loved-ones and put your plan into action (practice your plan) before a true disaster strikes.

Ashland Fire & Rescue (AF&R) would like to invite you to the Ashland Is Ready event Saturday, Sept. 12; however, as I write this tickets are nearly sold out, therefore we encourage you to save the tentative date for the 2016 AIR event on Saturday, Sept. 10. The AIR event serves as a one-stop-shop for preparedness information, demonstrations on “how-to” prepare around your home, and vendors who will have sales and services to enhance your readiness.

Disasters are a part of our daily lives and how we choose to respond to those disasters is the essential learning from the AIR event. This event is a great opportunity for you to be informed and get involved.

Terri Eubanks is the CPR and Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program Coordinator. Email her at terri.eubanks@ashland.or.us. The Alarm Box, a column with local public safety information, appears triweekly in the Tidings. Email Alarm Box topic suggestions to Division Chief/Fire Marshal Margueritte Hickman at margueritte.hickman@ashland.or.us.