FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska - Are you prepared for an emergency'

September 2010 is the seventh annual National Preparedness Month, sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency along with Citizen Corps and the Advertising Council. NPM is held each September to encourage Americans to take simple steps to prepare for emergencies in their homes, businesses, and communities.

Most people don't think about emergencies or disasters until they happen to someone else. Or if they do think about them, they are not prepared for them. A study done by FEMA in 2009 found that:

Just 57 percent of Americans surveyed report having supplies set aside in their homes just for disasters.

Less than half, 44percent, have a household emergency plan.

Just over one-third of those surveyed had received first aid training in the prior two years and only one-fourth attended a meeting on how to prepare.

Almost one-third of survey participants who had not prepared have not done so because they believe fire, police and emergency personnel would help them.

One-fourth said they did not have the time to prepare.

One-fourth said they did not know what to do to prepare.

Nearly one-third are not familiar with their community's alerts and warning systems.

While 42 percent say they have conducted a workplace evacuation drill, only 14 percent have practiced evacuating their home.

In a disaster, 70 percent expect to rely on household members and nearly 50 expect to rely on people in the neighborhood.

"Preparing in advance could keep an emergency from becoming a disaster for
you and your family. When an emergency strikes, knowing what to do can save
time, property and lives," said Russ Ackerman, Installation Emergency manager.

"Making a plan allows people to respond to an emergency, instead of reacting," said Luke Wetzel, American Red Cross of Alaska Station manager here. "Written plans are also useful so that if family members are separated when an emergency happens, whether across town or around the globe, everyone will be on the same page.

"Military families are encouraged to have two plans," Wetzel said. "A plan where all members of the family are home and one for during a deployment or TDY. Red Cross Emergency Communication Messages can help deployed service members stay in contact with family members. This will allow military families to better prevent, prepare for and respond to an emergency."

"Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to plan in advance how you will contact one another; how you will get back together; and what you will do in different situations," Ackerman said.

When Katrina struck New Orleans it was days before emergency responders were able to get to some areas. Here in Alaska, residents face the possibility natural disasters (earthquakes, floods, and wildland fires) and also man-made disasters such as transportation accidents involving hazardous materials and potential terrorist acts. A power outage during winter months can result in a life and death situation if people are not prepared. If a major disaster struck your neighborhood, would you be ready'

It is not a matter of if an emergency will happen, it is a matter of when. One of the steps we must take to prepare is to educate ourselves. There are many online resources available for that purpose to include,, and the Army's site

The Fort Wainwright station of the American Red Cross offers free emergency preparedness presentations to any size group, CPR and first aid classes, especially classes that focus on what to do when help is delayed.

(Note: Next week, the Alaska Post will feature an article about emergency kits and preparing for different types of emergency situations)