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Even in New Mexico – disasters happen. Every community in New Mexico is vulnerable. As New Mexicans, we face the threat of a variety of natural disasters and the threat of man-made disasters. Within the last year, New Mexico has dealt with an unprecedented series of emergencies from drought to fire, flooding and severe winter weather, and even tornadoes.

In the wake of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, emergency management officials have learned that local emergency services and governmental agencies cannot necessarily rapidly respond to your individual needs. Buildings, roads, water systems, and communications can be severely hampered during a disaster. Basic infrastructure need to be made operational to allow emergency management assistance and recovery to begin.

No one can stop natural disasters from occurring, but be can limit the impact they have on our family. The chances of being killed or injured during a disaster are very low. However, you may not be able to live normally in your home and community until your family and community have transitioned into the recovery stage.

Experts, like the American Red Cross or Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), recommend having three days worth of emergency supplies for each family member in your household, always.

Think of emergency preparedness as a “quality of life” issue. Proper planning, preparation, and practice will help you and your family be more comfortable when faced with an emergency. The most important factor is communication. Every member of your family needs to be involved in planning so that when disaster strikes; everyone will know what to do.

Once your family plan is complete – don’t forget to practice. Just like you did when you were in school, once a month have your household “fire drill” or “flooding drill.” Share your family plan with your neighbors; help them plan for their family. Let them know that disasters strike – even in New Mexico.