September has been designated National Preparedness Month, and if that’s not enough to remind us that we live in an unpredictable place, the windstorms that ripped across the region this week should be.
Here in Alaska, it’s not a matter of if, but when a disaster will strike. Earthquakes and tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, wildfires, avalanches, floods, extreme weather conditions — all have happened here in the recent past, and all are likely to happen again. Being in the middle of all that is part of what gives us what we like to call our “rugged individualism.”
Then again, how many of us would have been ready if the power outages from the windstorms had been more severe? Or if the weather had been a little colder? Most of us stop at the grocery store a few times each week. We rely on modern conveniences. Emergency services are just a quick phone call away.
If a disaster were to strike, how many of us actually have seven days of food and water for ourselves and our family? Are supplies for the pets accounted for as well? How about essential medications? Where did the flashlights go over the summer? In the event of an evacuation, do we know what we need to take with us? Are there emergency supplies and gear in our cars, including winter clothing and blankets? After all, you don’t need to drive too far to be in a wilderness situation here, and winter is right around the corner.
While we’re at it, now is a good time for a safety check on your vehicle. It’s getting dark; are your headlights clean and in good working order? Antifreeze topped off? Tires in good shape? Washer fluid reservoir full?
The Kenai Peninsula Borough’s Office of Emergency Management has links to lots of helpful emergency information posted on its website at http://www2.borough.kenai.ak.us/emergency/default.htm. Take some time this weekend to go over the list and make sure you have a plan. While you’re at it, check with your friends and neighbors who may, for whatever reason, need some extra help. We may be rugged individuals, but we also look after each other.
In short: The recent windstorms should remind us that with a little bit of preparedness, similar events here are just part of the adventure of living in Alaska, and need not turn tragic.