New year - same old Mother Nature

There's no telling what the future holds - and building bright futures here in the Pacific Northwest often means grappling with dark realities.

Floods, winter storms, earthquakes - no matter what Mother Nature has in store, preparing ahead of time can reduce damage - and regrets.

Need a catalyst to convert good intentions into effective emergency plans? Dennis Hunsinger, acting Federal Emergency Management Administration regional administrator, suggests you build them into your 2010 new year resolutions.

"Natural disasters strike with little or no warning," said Hunsinger. "Every family and every community in the country should take action now to reduce the effects of future disasters."

New year resolutions that could make for a safer and more secure 2010 include:

_ Install smoke detectors, freshen batteries and mark your calendar for routine inspections.

_ Keep serviceable fire extinguishers in kitchens, garages, risk areas and autos.

_ Stock emergency supplies for 72-hour independent action - and schedule periodic rotations to keep supplies fresh.

_ Re-evaluate flood insurance coverage to make sure it is adequate to your current needs. If you don't have flood insurance, get some.

_ Stock or restock disaster kits for home, office and auto (first aid kits, food, water and prescription medications for 72 hours, extra clothing, blankets, flashlights).

_ Teach all responsible family members how to shut off water, gas and power in case of emergencies.

_ Build pet disaster kits (food, water, leashes, dishes and carrying case or crate).

_ Create and practice family disaster communications plans.

A wealth of information and preparedness tips is available from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's site at and from FEMA at

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