Preparedness exercise a good reminder to us all

Through Sunday, the Kenai Peninsula Borough Emergency Management Department and other volunteer groups and agencies will take part in a statewide initiative aimed at better preparing for emergencies, many of which have been, and likely will be again, realities in our state.

Along with state officials, various utility providers and other volunteer agencies, the borough participated in Alaska Shield 2012 drills to test the abilities of communities across the state to respond to an emergency -- in this case, the scenario calls for extreme cold weather.

We applaud those efforts of the borough and state on the initiative. It is no small task to get nine local jurisdictions, four state agencies, four federal agencies, two military branches, six private industry participants and three non-profits across the state to come together for one week.

Moreover, the borough's part in the drill -- focusing on providing public information and mass sheltering of residents, including a mock loss in natural gas pressure -- is no small task either. A host of people, organizations and volunteers were involved and they deserve a bit of recognition.

In fact, the borough's drill is one that could very well be a reality for Peninsula residents -- in fact, recent windstorms and power outages led emergency managers to open a shelter just a couple months ago. We're glad to see those exercises being practiced and the skills associated with quick and precise responses sharpened. When it comes to emergencies, preparation is key.

Mother nature can be especially nasty in Alaska, even on the Peninsula where eruptions from our volcanoes, earthquakes, avalanches on our highway, and wildfires in our back yards are all possibilities -- in addition to the usual host of snotty winds, rain, snow and icy conditions.

Let's use the borough's drills as a reminder to do our own preparation. This weekend we'd encourage you and yours to imagine what you would do in case of a fire, flood, volcanic eruption or general evacuation and then make sure you have the necessary items on hand, in place and in working order.

Do you have enough food and water for seven days? What about other things like medications, first aid supplies and other life essentials? Visit the borough's Office of Emergency Management website for other tips and ideas at www2.borough.kenai.ak.us/emergency/default.htm.

Such questions might elicit eye rolling from the younger generations or thoughts of one's mother asking if they had everything they needed before a long trip. But emergency preparedness is no matter to ignore or dismiss -- it can be the difference between life and death for you and those you love.

In short: Emergency preparedness is serious business. We'd like to thank all of the agencies and persons who helped make the borough's part in Alaska Shield 2012 a successful one for looking out in our best interests. We'd also encourage all of you to make sure you are prepared as well.

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