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Officials call for planning ahead; September is National Preparedness Month

Officials have a message for North Dakotans this month: Get ready.

As the notoriously harsh winter approaches the area -- which the Old Farmer's Almanac predicts to be colder than normal for the High Plains region -- National Preparedness Month is getting people in gear for the worst-case scenarios.

Stark County Emergency Services Director Bill Fahlsing said the most important way to prepare is to simply have a plan for an emergency -- for how to communicate with family members, where to meet after a house fire, and the like.

Fahlsing and Dunn County Emergency Manager Denise Brew both cited the 72-hour rule: Always have enough food, water, medication, baby supplies -- any necessary items -- on hand to last you three full days.

"When you go to the grocery store and you have your list," Brew said, "buy double of what you were going to buy."

She said the things taken for granted are the things people run out of the quickest after an emergency -- such as toilet paper.

"Look at the really big picture," she said. "Think about if Walmart runs out of toilet paper."

Fahlsing said residents need to have arrangements to stay at a more stable residence such as with a friend, family member or co-worker in case of a tornado or high-wind situation.

Brew brought up the growing community of newcomers as one that needs to do some extra thinking about readying for winter.

"We are now in that time and era where there are a lot of people here that have never spent the winter here before, so that is one of my biggest concerns," she said.

Dunn County is planning an early October "preparedness clinic" aimed at informing newcomers on what they can do to prepare for North Dakota-style emergencies.

"The more preplanning is done, the less is the emergency impact," Brew said. "Think of the worst thing that can happen and try to prepare for it."

Fahlsing directed people to the, which has information on "what to do before, during and after an event ... anything from an earthquake to a volcano eruption."

Katherine Grandstrand
I graduated from Bemidji State University in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in mass communcations, from Columbia College Chicago in 2009 with a master's degree in journalism.  
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