By Trish Muntean, Fort Wainwright PAOSeptember 30, 2010
FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska - (Editor's note: September was the seventh annual National Preparedness month sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency along with Citizen Corps and the Advertising Council. The Ready Army website encouraged families to "Get a kit, make a plan, be informed." The following article will help.)
People who live in Alaska risk earthquakes, extreme cold weather, wildland fire, floods and manmade disasters and have to be prepared for any possibility. When a disaster strikes, emergency personnel and relief workers must prioritize needs and are unable to get to everyone immediately. Victims may need to survive on their own.
This means having food, water and other supplies in sufficient quantity to last for at least three days. In addition, basic services such as electricity, gas, water, sewage treatment and telephones may be cut off for days, a week, or longer.
To prepare for an emergency, assemble one or more emergency kits that include enough supplies for at least three days. Think of items that have multiple uses and are long-lasting. Keep a kit prepared at home and also in your car, at work and a portable version for quick and easy transport. These kits will enable anyone to respond and react to an emergency quickly. The emergency kits should be useful in any shelter or during an evacuation.
The preparedness website, www.ready.army.mil, has printer-friendly lists of what to put in an emergency kit, fact sheets about several types of disasters and how to prepare for them. Here are suggestions about what to include in an emergency kit.
A basic emergency supply kit should have one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation. Include a three-day supply of nonperishable food with a manual can opener. Some families will need baby food or formula, diapers and possibly pet food as part of their emergency kit.
A flashlight, NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both flashlight and radio are recommended. A first aid kit and a whistle to signal for help can be beneficial.
Some disasters put smoke or dust in the air. A dust or partial mask to help filter contaminated air, plastic sheeting, duct tape to cover windows and doors should also be kept in the kit. Keep a wrench or pliers on hand to turn off utilities.
Sanitation items such as moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties will be needed.
Additional items to consider adding to a basic emergency supply kit are prescription medications and glasses, important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container.
Cash or traveler's checks should also be included. You can use the Emergency Financial First Aid Kit developed by Operation Hope, FEMA and Citizen Corps to help you organize your information. Emergency reference material such as a first aid book or other pertinent information is available from www.ready.gov
An emergency kit should include a sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person. In Alaska extra blankets are recommended as well as at least one or more complete changes of clothing for each person. Cold weather gear including coat, boots, hat and gloves should also be part of any Alaska emergency kit as well.
Other items that might be needed are a fire extinguisher, matches in a waterproof container, feminine supplies and personal hygiene items, mess kits, paper cups, plates and plastic eating utensils and paper towels.
Families with small children might want to pack books, games, puzzles or other entertaining activities.
The FEMA Website suggests that it may be wise to have enough supplies in the emergency kit to last for up to two weeks and also recommends keeping a workplace and vehicle emergency kit.
Sometimes evacuation is necessary. Should authorities direct an evacuation there may not be much time and residents need to be prepared.
Another big concern during evacuation is always pets. Russ Ackerman, installation emergency manager offered guidance.
"Bring pets inside immediately and place them in a contained room," he said. "Many times pets run away or hide when they sense danger. Never leave them tied up outside, and remember that pets may experience behavioral changes due to stress."
In an evacuation that includes pets, have a carrier ready to go. Take enough supplies and food to last at least three days and a toy to keep the pet occupied.
Make sure the carrier is secure and tagged with the pet's name, description and contact details.
If pets are allowed at the shelter, be responsible by cleaning up after them and making sure they are not causing problems.
Many shelters do not allow pets. Pets may have to be boarded or placed in a shelter prepared for evacuated pets.
If you are told to evacuate and are ordered not to bring pets,bring animals inside. Never leave pets outside during an emergency.
Leave plenty of food and water.
Place a notice on the door that pets are inside. List the type and number of animals on the property, your name, phone number and the name and phone number of the pet's veterinarian.
Make arrangements for someone to visit the pet until the owner can return.
Ackerman also said residents should close and lock all doors and windows before leaving home.
Unplug nonessential electrical equipment. Leave freezers and refrigerators plugged in unless there is a risk of flooding.
Disasters can't be avoided, but preparation can increase chance of survival.