Recently, we've learned how quickly things can snowball when it comes to emergencies, but besides severe weather, experts say it's only a matter of time until we come face to face with a pandemic flu. If that's the case, would you be ready?
"It's not a question of if it will happen, it's a question of when and how severe," said Mike Wagner, who heads up El Paso County's Emergency Preparedness Program.
Wagner says the time to prepare for the inevitable is now, starting with food. "Every time you go to the grocery store, just pick up an extra can of whatever you buy. Just don't wait until something happens and expect to be able to go to the store and get it," he explains.
Many of us just learned that the hard way. Remember in December when there was freezing snow on the ground, but no ground round in store freezers?
When you stock up, Wagner says, buy food your family actually likes.
He adds, for a storm, you'll need a three to four day supply. For a pandemic, you'll need enough for three to four weeks.
Also, have enough water, medication, and personal supplies to last that long.
Wagner says next on your list: get to know your neighbors. "I don't think many people knock on their neighbor's door and know them by name, or have their phone number to call them without needing a phone book," he says.
Wagner says you also need an emergency plan, something Bret Waters knows all about.
"We've had a lot of practice here in the last few months," said Waters, Director of Emergency Management for the City of Colorado Springs.
A huge binder holds the city's "Pre-Disaster Mitigation Plan." Inside is documentation of a century's worth of floods, wildfires, landslides and severe weather that has hit our region. Disasters during which man power was never a problem, but what would happen during a pandemic?
"In this day and age, we call 911 and get first responders within a few minutes," said Waters. "In a pandemic flu situation, we're going to have to gauge what we would and would not be able to respond to."
It's why city officials say you should also arm yourself with a First Aid Kit and basic medical skills, like CPR. They say during a pandemic, emergency crews from neighboring towns would be going through the same thing we are.
"Again," said Waters, "That should make us ask ourselves if we are prepared as individuals and families to stay home."
Wagner emphasizes being prepared doesn't mean you need to build a bunker. He says eventually, the snow will melt, and pandemic flu will go away.
"If you put yourself in a bunker," said Wagner, "Then you're taking yourself out of the community where you could be helped, or help someone else."
Community support and teamwork are two of the most important emergency essentials. Experts say if you prepare for a pandemic and severe weather, you'll also be prepared for a possible terror attack.
For a more detailed list of emergency essentials, visit www.pandemicflu.gov.