Editorial: Time to prepare for next emergency

September has been designated National Preparedness Month, and if that’s not enough to remind us that we live in an unpredictable place, the fact that emergency officials are keeping an eye on rising waters on the Kenai River, where a flood advisory is in place, 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 be ready if a disaster were to strike today? 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.

In the event of an emergency, 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? Could we survive without electricity for a few days? 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.

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