No matter where you live, a natural disaster can strike at any time. Here in the Northwest, we’re told to expect the next big earthquake at any time. Many of our majestic mountains are dormant volcanos. The natural beauty of our forests can turn into horrible forest fires from a carelessly thrown cigarette butt. Extreme winter storms are a serious risk. Floods are common throughout our region and we also get the occasional tornado. While disasters are sometimes instantly fatal, survival often depends on whether you are prepared.
The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services maintains the Health Emergency Response Operations (HERO) website with information on how to prepare for all the above disasters and more.
Are you and your family ready for a disaster? The CDC offers three simple steps to be prepared:
— Get a Kit
— Make a Plan
— Be Informed
Your kit will include items like food and water, health supplies, personal care items, safety supplies, electronics, important documents, extra cash, and your emergency plan.
Your emergency plan will include a family communication plan and a family disaster plan. Your disaster plan should include safe spots in your home for disasters like earthquakes, multiple meeting places, and the best escape routes from your home. You should practice your contingencies as a family.
If a family member is very young, older, or has special medical needs, your planning will need to be more extensive. You’ll also need supplies for your four-legged family members.
You can stay informed by signing up for alerts from your emergency management agency. A NOAA weather radio (battery-powered, solar, or hand-crank) can provide updates. The Alaska Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Management provides information, as do municipal Emergency Management pages. Emergency Management Essentials provides other information for Alaskans.
Preparedness will differ depending on where you live, including whether you live in an urban or rural area. However, no matter where you live, and what potential disasters you face, you should always be ready. Being prepared — it’s not just for scouts!
Susan Johnson is Regional Director for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Region 10.