make a go bag

Fire season is here — it’s roaring all around us. While Payson and Star Valley are currently “safe” there is no telling what the future holds. The monsoon can cause flooding and spark lightning fires, so get prepared now in the event of an evacuation order.

Don’t think you need an emergency kit? Think again say families that needed one when the fires in southern Gila County bore down on Globe, Miami and surrounding communities.

Flashlights, bottled water, a first aid kit, and medication line the Haggarts’ kitchen counter. The family isn’t going camping — they’re preparing for disaster by putting together a “go bag.”

John and Dana Haggart never used to worry about natural disasters in Globe. But after the record-breaking 2020 wildfire season in the West, they don’t want to leave anything to chance for 2021, as extreme weather patterns continue to escalate.

Experts warn that extreme and abnormal weather events are intensifying. Arizona’s dry and hot climate makes wildfire a specific concern. The indelible memory of the 2013 Yarnell Hill Fire and the 19 men who died fighting it shows how quickly wildfires can spiral out of control. The more recent Spur Fire in Bagdad, Ariz., was a stark reminder of how grass and gusting winds spread the fire quickly, forcing families out of their home with little warning.

“It’s important to prepare a go bag,” says John Haggart, as the couple recounts their experience of early June when the order to evacuate was received. Flames that had been some 30 miles away rapidly grew and suddenly threatened their community.

“We didn’t think we were going to be affected,” said Dana. “We were able to get our go bags and be out the door within 10 minutes of that ‘go’ order.”

The Haggarts credited the disaster-preparedness help they received as Jehovah’s Witnesses, both through periodic reminders at their congregation meetings and from tips for putting together go bags on the organization’s website, www.jw.org.

“Life is precious, so we encourage all to heed the Bible’s advice to take practical steps to protect ourselves from danger,” said Robert Hendriks III, spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses in the United States.

“Having a personal preparedness plan increases your chances of staying safe,” according to a training program from the Columbia University’s National Center for Disaster Preparedness. Having supplies ready to go, it says, is one of the steps that provides “resilience to all types of emergencies.”

Disaster-preparedness suggestions and tips for putting together a “go bag” are available from FEMA at ready.gov and from Jehovah’s Witnesses at https://bit.ly/3h631ML.

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