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Alton hosts final ‘Disaster Aware, Alton Prepared’ event

Alton hosted the final session of the ‘Disaster Aware, Alton Prepared’ event, where attendees received tips on home protection and personal safety measures for cold weather.

The ‘Disaster Aware, Alton Prepared’ six-month community event has educated the public on safety measures of natural disasters, severe weather, and beautification of the city with personal responsibility. All this has been possible due to the unofficial board of the Disaster Aware, Alton Prepared engagement services.

An attendee views the informational bulletin on heat waves and severe hot weather. ProgressTimes photo by Maria Ruiz.

Bulletins informing citizens of both severe cold and heat weather conditions were laid out on the gym floor, alongside local vendors and businesses.

Sam Mercado, Community Services Director of Alton, acted as the master of ceremonies and host.

“We’ve covered from illegal dumping to flooding. We’ve covered preparing for a hurricane. We also did a presentation on how to manage your own generator,” said Mercado, summarizing the past info sessions.

Attendees who visited previous sessions were encouraged to enter a raffle with money-based prizes. Winners were to be announced after the informational presentation.

Susana Ruiz-Soros led the main PowerPoint presentation in Spanish, while Jason Martinez performed in English.

“We recommend for you to start preparing in October and not wait until December or January to prepare last-minute,” said Soros.

Soros briefly touched on the past winter storm, Uri, which occurred in early February, and the disastrous aftermaths of homes in its path.

“Before the storm comes, what we recommend for preparation is to create an emergency kit,” said Soros, who explained the items are to be in a water-proof bag. “You’ll have your important documents, plenty of food, water, a change of clothes, and a radio.”

Medications, according to Soros, are also crucial to have and take during an emergency and should never be left behind. Emergency food supply should last for up to five days or a week, such as canned food. Said kit should be stored in the vehicle as well.


Home maintenance is also crucial for winter weather preparedness.

“If you need to change your windows, if there are leaks, or if you need to fix your pipes, check that before the cold weather starts,” said Soros, who said that preparedness months in advance can minimize fear, panic, and anxiety when severe weather hits.

“Another one of the things that we recommend is…insulate [outdoor pipes] and cover the piping inside of the home so that they don’t freeze during the cold period,” Soros said. “We also recommend to keep the water running, not too much, but enough to have a constant flow to help the pipes.”

Soros also warned that using the stove-top or oven can be dangerous and lethal as a heat source in the winter, as it can cause a fire or CO2 poisoning.

“It’s so easy to turn on the oven, get distracted, or forget about it. We stay asleep, and we can experience the danger of the flame or the toxicity of the CO2,” said Soros.

Alton City Firefighters were in attendance, advising on the issue of CO2 poisoning while using incorrect heat sources and keeping smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in good maintenance and up to date to ensure safety. Maintenance includes checking the expiration date Wiand making sure they are not broken or faulty.

After the presentation, raffle winners took their prizes after being blindly selected from the ticket box.

Among the winners was Robert Dill with the $100 prize, Maria Victoria Garza with the $200 prize, Fidel Hernandez with the $500 prize, and Maria Reyna with a $100 cash prize.

The event ended with a courtesy barbecue sandwich lunch from Benji’s Barbecue.

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