Are you prepared?

For many of us, last week’s power outage, which came on the heels of the area’s first heavy snowfall, was little more than an inconvenience. But, judging by anecdotal reports of store shelves emptied of bottled water and people waiting in line to buy generators, for some of us, the situation was cause for concern.

If you were among those who were worried when the lights didn’t come back on after the first few minutes, now is the time to take stock of your emergency preparedness — before the next emergency comes along. And if you felt like you were one of those for whom the outage was a minor inconvenience, now is a good time to double-check your emergency preparedness, because the next situation could be a little more severe.

Indeed, while we’ve come to rely on so many modern conveniences, every now and then we get a reminder that we still live in the Last Frontier. We’ve asked this question many times before: How many of us would be prepared if a disaster were to strike today? We live in a region prone to extreme weather, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, floods and avalanches. It’s not a matter if a disaster will strike, but when.

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 are the flashlights? 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.

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. Remember, a little time spent preparing now can ensure that the next emergency will be just an inconvenience, and not a reason to panic.

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