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Baby-step prepping

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Preparing for an emergency such as an earthquake or wildfire can feel like a daunting task at the outset. What to pack? How much water? How much food? Where to meet? Who to call?

That's why the city of Medford is encouraging area residents to take baby steps and check off one disaster-ready precautionary measure at a time through a new initiative called Do One Thing.

The program seeks to spur local residents to become better prepared for natural disasters. Since January, the city's emergency management office has been giving a single recommendation per month, prompting slow but steady progress toward the ultimate goal of emergency preparedness. The idea started with community residents, city officials said.

“There was definitely a need from both our community (and) neighboring communities on simple steps for people to take to be prepared,” said city Emergency Manager Melissa Cano. “A lot of people voiced that they wanted to be prepared on their own without any additional assistance, and kind of take that independence, if you will, toward getting prepared.”

The city opted into Do One Thing, a nationwide nonprofit organization that “aims to build more disaster-resilient communities,” according to the group’s website, www.do1thing.com.

City officials estimate 50 to 60 individuals and about a dozen faith-based organizations and nonprofits have gotten involved so far.

Participants have been prompted to make a plan (January), and purchase and store two weeks worth of bottled water (February).

In coming months, steps will include identifying storm shelter locations and preparing a go bag, emergency food supplies, and preparing for unique family needs. One example of this might include making sure your specific home evacuation plan works for a family member with a disability.

“When we give people kind of those small bites, if you will, they’re more inclined to stick with it,” Cano said, “versus giving people a long list of items to do.”

The step-by-step approach allows for more education on each bullet point, officials added.

“So getting your go bag ready, you can take a whole month and find some things for your go bag, get that ready, put it in your car, put it in a place in your house,” said Medford Community Relations Coordinator Kristina Johnsen. “And then the next month you can focus on getting a two-week supply of food and water.”

While the campaign is focused on preparing for a multitude of natural disasters, Cano said where you live influences how and what to become ready for. Southern Oregonians are more apt to have wildfire on the brain when it comes to the plan and preparations they pull together.

“And because in Northern California, recently, we had a very devastating fire, it’s on everyone’s minds,” Cano said.

Medford Fire-Rescue Battalion Chief Jason John said preparation for those types of events — even if it’s just a few small things — can go a long way.

“I think most people just really like to think it’s not going to happen to them,” John said. “I think having just the understanding that you’re in a hazard area or that it can happen to you is probably one of the greatest things you can do to begin with.”

And, John added, because of the destructive capacity of fire, making those preparations is crucial.

“A fire is going to leave moonscape behind it,” John said. “For the longest time we didn’t think that it was going to be an issue if you lived in a city. I think you can see with the catastrophic fires we’ve had in just the last couple years, when you look back at the city of Weed, the city of Redding, Paradise ... these are not areas that are geographically far away from us, but they have experienced absolutely devastating catastrophic wildfire. Literally, you drive through those areas even now today, and it is just moonscape. There is going to be nothing left.”

For more information about the program, see www.readymedford.org or follow the Medford Fire-Rescue and city of Medford Facebook pages.

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at rpfeil@rosebudmedia.com or 541-776-4468.

Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneMedford city Emergency Manager Melissa Cano says having copies of medical information, emergency contacts and other personal records ready in a go bag for moving quick in an emergency.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneMedford City Emergency Manager Melissa Cano puts an extra pair of shoes into a go bag prepared for quick moves in an emergency.