Design by Nicole Skarlatos
An infographic shows the natural disasters happening currently. The university is offering workshops for students to help students become prepared for natural disasters.

As fire season comes to a close and hurricane season gears up to begin, the University of Nevada, Reno, is providing support and lessons for those affected or at risk of being affected by natural disasters.

In an effort to better prepare and inform students on natural disaster preparation, UNR held a “National Preparedness Extravaganza” from Sept. 10-14. This was a part of larger nation effort National Preparedness Month. Workshops were held to help students be better prepared in the event an environmental disaster is to occur. Workshops ranged from earthquake preparation to active shooter training.

NPM is recognized every September in an effort to remind the national community to be prepared for disasters that can occur throughout the year. The outreach theme is “Disasters Happen. Prepare Now. Learn How.”

Fire Preparedness

The Washoe Community Emergency Response Team held workshops on Monday Sep. 10, dedicated to showing students on how to prepare their homes, cars and parent in the event a fire, flood or earthquake is to occur. It informed students on items to have packed prior to incidents and items to pack in the event a natural disaster is to occur. Items ranged from water to tools needed. The workshop also showed students on what to do in the event pets and themselves were caught in the disaster because it could take up to 72 hours to receive aid.

The 2018 fire season resulted in California’s largest wildfire to date — the Mendocino Complex fire. The fire covered an area of 459,123 acres and is currently 95 percent contained. Students from California have expressed concern of how frequent the fires have been and lack of preparation.

The Environmental Health and Safety Department at UNR held a workshop dedicated to showing students how to safely evacuate building on campus in the event a fire is to break out. It also showed students on how to effectively use a fire extinguisher and tell the difference between the four types and which extinguisher to use based on the fire. The department also showed students how to help evacuate individuals who are disabled from the waist down by using an evacuation chair.

Earthquake Preparedness

In 2008 the Wells Earthquake in Wells, Nev. with a 6.0 magnitude caused 35 out of 80 homes to be damaged. Wells was the most damaging earthquake since the Dixie Valley Earthquake in Fallon, Nev. in 1954.

According to the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology a person’s response to an earthquake is to run outside, call 911, leave town and increase death. Potential consequences of an earthquake were categorized as deaths, injuries and infrastructural damage.

Out of all natural disasters, Nevada is ranked in the top three states with the largest earthquakes in the country. The Nevada Seismological Lab workshop held on Sep. 11 and 12 on earthquake safety and informed students in attendance on how to make an earthquake proof home and how to treat injuries that may have occurred during the quake.

Reno Police services also came to inform students on what to do in event an active shooter is anywhere on campus. Police taught students the “run, hide fight” strategies. These strategies were also taught to approximately 60 faculty and staff on Tuesday, Feb. 27.

A statement from the university informed students on the importance of preparing for a natural disaster because there will not always be immediate help.

The importance of preparing ourselves for disasters is universal,” the university said in a statement. “Emergencies can happen anywhere – at home or at work – and everyone must take action to prepare for emergencies in case something unexpected happens. You should be ready to be self-sufficient for at least three days. This may mean providing for your own shelter, first aid, food, water, and sanitation. This includes preparations for any special needs individuals may have, medications, other family members and pets.  Being prepared can reduce fear, anxiety, and losses that accompany disasters. People also can reduce the impact of disasters (flood proofing, elevating a home or moving a home out of harm’s way, and securing items that could shake loose in an earthquake) and sometimes avoid the danger completely .If a disaster occurs in your community, local government and disaster-relief organizations will try to help you, but you need to be ready as well. Local responders may not be able to reach you immediately, or they may need to focus their efforts elsewhere.”

The ASUN Pack Provisions announced on Monday, Aug. 6, on Twitter and Instagram that students who are affected by the fires in California can receive help with the providing of school supplies, food and clothes.

Nevada Admissions also released a statement on Instagram on Aug. 23 to support students who come from Hawaii being affected by Hurricane Lane.

“To students in the Aloha State, stay safe,” Nevada Admissions stated, “Our campus community is here to support you.”

The Disaster Recovery Reform Act was introduced to Congress on Nov. 28, 2017, in an effort to provide national help along with the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the event natural disasters occurs.

Despite FEMA being in place to help in the event of a natural disaster, they refused to help victims of the South Sugarloaf Fire. The fire burned through more than 230,000 acres and is requiring 133 personal to help contain the fire. Currently the fire is 98 percent contained.

Senator Ron Johnson, Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs supports the bill in order to better assist in the recovery process.

“Last year’s natural disasters resulted in significant human and economic loss across America,” Johnson said in a statement to NPM,  “This year, wildfires are spreading across California, the hurricane season is underway, and we already lost two lives this June from heavy rains and flooding in my home state of Wisconsin… Being individually prepared before disasters strike is a responsibility every American needs to shoulder.”  

Andrew Mendez can be reached at or on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.