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America’s PreparAthon!: Stay ready for the unexpected

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- El Nino's fury is right around the corner and the 21st Civil Engineer Squadron readiness flight wants to prepare you for what may be in store.

They are hosting their biannual America's PreparAthon! Sept. 30 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Peterson Air Force Base Exchange to talk about floods, wildfires, tornadoes, and winter storms, all which may affect Colorado Springs.

"The Red Cross will be there with handouts, a response vehicle, and they'll have a presentation," said Senior Airman Chris Gearhart. "We will have our Mobile Emergency Operations Center there. We can work out of the MEOC when off base; it supports local emergency responders and the incident commander."

The big thing is preparing people, especially those who recently relocated here, for the winter.

Some preparation you may already be aware of, such as making sure your furnace is clean and having a secondary-heating source on hand in case your furnace goes out. But, Gearhart suggests running a slow drip from faucets during extreme freezing conditions to prevent pipes from freezing over.

Extreme freezing conditions are considered 20 degrees below zero, and downright cold for those new to Colorado.

It is always a good idea to check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors periodically to ensure they work, and keep fresh batteries on hand.
Carbon monoxide poisoning can become deadly in minutes and can affect you in your home or vehicle.

"Carbon monoxide is key - it's a silent killer, odorless, and undetectable," said Gearhart. "You can go off of symptoms, which are lightheadedness and feeling very fatigued."

Winter storms can wreak havoc on vehicles and the best way to stay prepared is to be prepared.

Cold weather can affect the air pressure in your tires. Check the pressure often and the tread to keep you safe on the road.

Avoid water to speed up the defrost process.

"Do not put any water on your vehicle during freezing conditions, and make sure you don't have any chips in your windshield," said Gearhart. "This could potentially crack [your windshield] at any point."

Take time to put together a built-in-kit and keep it in your car, even if just headed to Denver.

The basics of a kit include: flashlight, batteries, hand warmers, blanket, warm clothes, jumper cables, snow scraper, collapsible shovel, and a first-aid kit. Adding water and non-perishable snacks to your kit is a good idea for any worse case scenario.

People and pets - stay warm and monitor your exposure to the cold to prevent frostbite or hypothermia. We often hear not to leave pets in the car during sweltering conditions, this is equally important during freezing conditions.

Peterson AFB has a snow line, 556-SNOW, which provides the most up to date information about weather-related delays or closures.

"Bottom line, give yourself plenty of time to monitor the news and media," said Gearhart.

Stop by America's PreparAthon! event on Sept. 30 to learn more from the readiness experts about ways you can stay safe during an emergency.

The Readiness squadron will also have a booth at Nickelodeon's World Wide Day of Play on Sept 26 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. in Patriot Park where they will talk to families about the importance of preparedness for natural disasters.

For more information contact Gearhart at 719-556-3032, Tech. Sgt. Kevin Vanderwater at 719-556-8434, or Shelley Pickering at 719-556-8432.

Peterson SFB Schriever SFBCheyenne Mountain SFSThule AB New Boston SFS Kaena Point SFS Maui