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Know what to do during 2019 Arizona monsoon season

PHOENIX – Arizona’s unpredictable monsoon season officially begins Saturday.

The season lasts 107 days, ending Sept. 30, with August the peak month for thunderstorm activity.

Last year, storms blew down houses in Buckeye, flooded neighborhoods, knocked down power lines and as usual, also smothered the Valley in dust and heat.

The state’s Emergency Information Network suggested residents keep up with weather news and most of all, stay safe.

During Monsoon Awareness Week, which began Monday, Gov. Doug Ducey said now was the time to get ready.

Here are some tips that can help prepare Arizonans for the coming storms.

Have an action plan

In case of an emergency, know where and when you, family or friends will meet beforehand. If you’re home, have an evacuation route mapped out. Write the plan down and give everyone a copy.

Call out-for-towners to let them know what is going on.

Have an emergency kit

Any emergency supplies should include a first-aid kit and water (1 gallon per person per day for at least three days for drinking and sanitation), Ready.gov recommends.

Use the same time frame for food — a minimum three days’ worth of nonperishable items.

Also stock:

    • coolers and ice
    • important documents
    • candles
    • cellphone with chargers, extra battery
    • batteries
    • battery-powered or hand crank weather radio
    • prescription medications
    • dust mask
    • manual can opener
    • maps

Be safe in a vehicle

Drivers can’t always get off the road in time to avoid a thunder or dust storm.

In its Pull Aside, Stay Alive campaign, the Arizona Department of Transportation said after you pull over during a dust storm, keep your seat belt on, set the parking brake and turn off the car lights.

As counterintuitive as that sounds, other drivers who see the lights may try to follow but instead smash right into you.

Trying to drive across a flooded area is a hazard, too.

First responders could be put in harm’s way attempting a rescue.

“We’ve got a current that is strong enough to push an automobile miles down the wash,” Phoenix Fire Capt. Rob McDade told KTAR News 92.3 FM last year.

“The current (could) speed up in an area; there could be something underneath (the water surface) that could grab (a person), pull them under. We could always have failure in a line.”

Under Arizona’s Stupid Motorist Law, the cost of a rescue from flood areas is the responsibility of the driver.

Stay indoors

If you hear thunder, lightning isn’t too far behind.

The Emergency Information Network advises everyone stay inside their home or shelter for at least a half hour after a storm passes before stepping outside.

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