It was front-page news in The Arizona Republic last week: "Survival supplies ... going fast."
Valley residents were making runs on hardware, grocery and Army surplus stores for all kinds of supplies -- from gas masks and water purification tablets to duct tape and bottled water.
Not too many Rim residents are punching their panic buttons yet, at least according to a Roundup survey taken of area hardware, grocery and other stores.
Maybe our clear air makes us a little more sane or we just know there are not that many high-level targets in Gila County.
"We are really a low-risk county," Gila County Emergency Services Director Carmen Corso said.
Corso said all the information he has heard indicates that the most likely terrorist targets will be highly populated areas.
"It is hard to predict (the target)," he said.
Corso said with the recently declared national "Code Orange" alert status, his office is monitoring the activity of the state emergency services office via the computer.
The five-member county emergency service staff has made a check of all their contact numbers, including the media. Should the state activate the county emergency services procedures, Corso said his office would be sending out regular releases to keep the public informed.
For now, he suggests people be prepared in the same way they prepared for the possibility of a wildfire this summer. The protective measures Corso recommended:
- Have a two-week supply of food, water and medicines.
- Have important documents accessible in the event of evacuation.
- Make sure everyone in the family knows to contact one out-of-state friend or relative.
On the other hand, the Gila County Health Department released a public service announcement Feb. 13 saying many have been asking how to make a disaster kit.
The department has the Red Cross' "Family Disaster Supplies Kit" list at its Payson office, 107 West Frontier, Suite A, across from the post office.
As for what people are buying in the Rim country in light of the "Code Orange" alert -- not much, according to our survey.
No unusual purchases were being made at either Ace Hardware or Foxworth Galbraith. At Pine Lumber, some plastic sheeting was moving, store employees said, but nothing really unusual.
Bashas' assistant manager Tim Nichols said his headquarters had notified them to stock up on duct tape, water and large case items, but he has not seen any survival-buying yet.
"Usually with something like this, everyone waits and they hit you all at once," he said.
Safeway's assistant manager, Russell Youngcourt, could not cite any specific survival-type purchases, but there have been customers buying unusually large quantities of groceries. He said the biggest purchases are normally between $150 to $200. Recently the store has seen some exceptionally large orders of around $400.
Dan Bell, the new manager of Wal-Mart said, "We were blown out of duct tape yesterday (Wednesday)."
Bell said the store has also been selling quite a bit of plastic sheeting and water.
Pine Country Outfitters has not seen any panic purchasing.
So what do you need in your survival kit? Take some time and think about it.
What would you need to survive: in your home for three days to two weeks; in a shelter for three days to two weeks?
Consider the worst case scenario: no electricity or propane, no running water, no food to buy at area grocery stores, no gasoline to fuel your vehicle to get away, no access to money or medical attention.
Check with the American Red Cross to see its recommendations for survival kits for both your home and on the road, www.redcross.org, or pick up the emergency preparedness brochure the town prepared for the last wildfire season.
Additional information on disaster preparedness can be found at www.fema.gov/areyouready.
Call the county health department at 928-474-1210 for further information.
The fire department and Code Orange
With the "Code Orange" alert status enacted Feb. 7 by the Office of Homeland Security, Payson Fire Department personnel have been directed to be on a higher level of alert.
Fire Chief John Ross outlined the highlights of the fire department's alert policy:
- Fire station doors are to be locked at all times, except for the lobby of the Main Street station when staff is present.
- Personnel is to be alert about suspicious persons around the fire stations and apparatus.
- On non-emergency calls, all apparatus is to be attended or visible at all times.
- Personnel are to be aware of possible explosive or unfamiliar devices at the stations or around apparatus.
- All calls must be addressed in pairs.
- Personnel are to be aware of the patients they see and the environments in which they see those patients.
- On emergency calls, one person is to remain at apparatus if possible.
Ross said he and his staff are reviewing emergency operation plans and mass-casualty incident procedures.
"We are also preparing with other agencies and the State Emergency Services Office," Ross said.