Respect Mother Nature
The desert is a volatile, moody, violent environment. It's much bigger than you are. Learn basic survival skills and first aid.
Learn who is poisonous and who is not. Where they like to hide out, who is nocturnal, native animal behavior in general. Do not ever put your hands where you can't see them, i.e. reaching up to climb a rock, reaching behind a woodpile. Even behind a bathroom wastebasket. Scorpions love the bathroom.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
Emergency water everywhere: the house, car, everywhere, all the time. I have bottles full in the house all the time.
Just Because Your Neighbor Has No Teeth . . .
Do not assume “small town,” longtime locals are stupid. They most definitely are not. These people are pioneers and have much to teach.