The Kenai Peninsula is home to a wide variety of natural and man-made hazards. Think back over the past ten years: As Peninsula residents we have experienced volcanic eruptions, wildfires, flooding and avalanches. The Kenai is also vulnerable to extreme winter weather and man-made hazards such as hazardous materials incidents, fuel and chemical spills and industrial fires.
In cooperation with the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA’s) Ready campaign, the Kenai Peninsula Citizen Corps program is reminding residents of the peninsula to Resolve To Be Ready. This year, the national campaign is focusing on integrating technology into emergency preparedness for families and individuals.
What steps can we take as individuals and families to ensure that we are prepared when a large scale event occurs? First, have a family emergency plan. Make sure that everyone in your family knows emergency phone numbers such as police departments, insurance providers and co-workers. Have the numbers posted by landlines and programmed into mobile phones, although we highly recommend not programming “911” as a speed dial into your phone.
Designate a friend or relative out of state that can be a contact for your family. Each member of the family should contact this person in a disaster to check in and let them know they are safe. In a disaster, it may be easier to call long distance than locally. Phone lines and cellular networks will likely be overwhelmed, but there is a much higher likelihood that a short text message will go through. Consider using texts to get in touch with your out of state contact.
Assemble a disaster supply kit that will store a basic supply of food, clothing, and personal products. A basic kit will include non-perishable food and a supply of water: one gallon of water per person, per day. A battery powered radio, flashlight and batteries, clothing, cash, and a first aid kit should also be included. Don’t forget special needs items such as prescription medications, infant formula, or special dietary requirements.
On the Kenai we spend a lot of time driving in winter conditions. Please ensure that you have an emergency kit in your vehicle with additional warm clothing, blankets, water, first aid supplies, jumper cables and other basic tools in addition to road flares.
Be informed — how will you receive emergency information? Consider having a battery powered radio in your kit, as well as a NOAA weather radio with alerting capabilities to receive weather and other emergency broadcasts.
The Borough has a notification system that will notify residents in affected areas of an emergency with rapid, automated phone calls to all landlines in the area. Cell phones can also receive these calls also but only if registered with the system. To register, go online to www.borough.kenai.ak.us/emergency to receive emergency messages.
Get trained! The Citizen Corps program provides training called CERT – the community emergency response team. These teams receive training in basic fire suppression, search and rescue, medical aid and more! This training allows you to help yourself and neighbors should an emergency occur and normal response capabilities are overwhelmed.
To get additional information or learn about the CERT program, please visit www.kpvolunteers.org and resolve to be prepared for emergencies in 2013!
Dan Nelson is the Citizen Corps Program Coordinator for the Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Management.