Learn, Prepare, Prevail
- Michelle Torres
State Outreach Coordinator
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Some of the things you can do to prepare for the unexpected, such as making an emergency supply kit and developing a family communications plan, are the same for both a natural or man-made emergency.
However, there are important differences among potential emergencies that will impact the decisions you make and the actions you take. Learn more about the potential emergencies that could happen where you live and the appropriate way to respond to them.
Risk: Ground shaking during earthquakes can cause partial building collapse, shattered glass, falling objects, and shifting debris.
Response: Secure heavy items in your house and build an emergency kit to prepare; Drop, Cover, and Hold On during an earthquake.
Risk: A series of ocean waves can cause a surge of high waters that can carry people away, damage homes, and shift debris near the coast.
Response: Build a go-kit and identify tsunami hazards zones and evacuation routes to prepare; get to high ground during a tsunami warning or if an earthquake lasts longer than 20 seconds.
Learn more: http://www.tsunami.noaa.gov/
Risk: Heavy ashfall can reduce sunlight, cause electrical failure, clog water systems, hamper driving, and aggravate respiratory problems.
Response: Have extra oil filters, airfilters and build an emergency kit with masks, keep duct tape and plastic on hand to prepare; wear a mask and seal windows during ashfall.
Risk: Sea Storms can bring hurricane force winds that damage homes and cause power outages; they also cause the sea level to rise, flooding communities on the coast.
Response: Build an emergency kit with an indoor-safe heater and board up windows to prepare; stay inside during the storm, avoid driving, watch for flooding.
Risk: Fast moving flood waters can damage homes, roads, vehicles, and can sweep people away with just 6 inches of depth.
Response: Identify evacuation routes, build a go-kit, and buy flood insurance to prepare; avoid fast moving flood waters and get to high ground during a flood.
Learn more: http://www.ready.gov/floods
Risk: Wildfires can trap people, damage homes, and even the smoke can impair vision and breathing.
Response: Clear all brush within 30 ft. of your house, prune trees near your house, and build a go-kit to prepare; evacuate if possible, or stay in the center of your home if trapped by a wildfire.
Learn more: http://ready.alaska.gov/wildfires
Risk: Falling/shifting debris can cause damage to you or your vehicle, cause tsunamis on the coast, and damage roads or structures.
Response: Learn to identify avalanche/landslide terrain, stay clear of areas at risk, and carry an emergency kit in your vehicle to prepare; avoid avalanches/landslides in progress or if you are caught, attempt to stay on top of the moving snow/mud/debris.
Learn more: http://landslides.usgs.gov/
Get a Kit
You may need to survive on your own after an emergency. This means having your own food, water, and other supplies in sufficient quantity to last for at least seven days. Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster, but they cannot reach everyone immediately. You could get help in hours, or it might take days. In addition, basic services such as electricity, gas, water, sewage treatment, and telephones may be cut off for days, or even a week or longer.
- 1 Gallon per person per day
- Store in sealed and thoroughly sanitized containers
- Do not use containers that have stored materials that are toxic or can allow the growth of bacteria
- Store in a cool, dry place
- Change every 6 months
- 7 Days worth for every person
- Just add to the amount of food you have on hand
- Use non-perishable food items that you normally eat
- Use air tight storage containers
- Keep a manual can opener on-hand
- Do not freeze canned food
- Label items with use dates
- Recycle food every 6 months
- Get a NOAA weather radio
- Decide between battery or hand-crank powered
- One in your kit and one by your bed
- Keep extra batteries
- Have a regular and a headlamp
- Know what is in your kit and where it is
- Update it annually
- To filter contaminated air
- Also have duct tape and plastic sheeting on hand
- Moist Towelettes
- Anti—bacterial soap
- Toilet Paper
- Garbage bags and plastic ties
- Tooth Paste and Tooth Brush
- Feminine Hygiene supplies
- Hand Warmers
- Emergency Candles
- Propane/butane heat source labled for indoor use
- When using any heat source make sure that you are in a well ventilated room
- Keep an extra charger in your kit
- Get a solar or crank charger
- Include long-sleeved clothes
- Extra pair of solid shoes
- Extra underwear
- Emergency Blankets can have multiple uses
- Extra Glasses and prescriptions
- Infant Care items
- Pet Care items
- Activities for kids and adults (coloring books, cards, games. Etc.)
- Proof of Insurance
- Proof of Ownership
- Banking Records
- Marriage License
- Medical Records
Make a Plan
A Family Emergency Plan can help a family reunite after a major disaster. Normal transportation and communication options may be damaged making it difficult to speak to or find loved ones. Knowing where loved one will go and who they will contact can provide piece of mind to the individual and help responders by accounting for individuals that are safe.
- Often in emergencies local calls won’t work, but calls outside the disaster area will; having an out of town contact could help your family reconnect in an emergency.
- One outside your home
- One in your town
- Emergency Plan Sheet
- Keep a copy at home
- Keep a copy at work
- Give a copy to your out of town contact
- Emergency Contact Cards
- Give one to each family member for their wallet, purse, car, etc.
- In emergencies, remember that text messaging can work when phone calls won’t
- Know the different types of fire extinguishers
- Make sure your family knows how to use it
- Depending on your circumstances and the nature of the emergency, the first important decision is whether you stay where you are or evacuate. You should understand and plan for both possibilities. Use common sense and available information, including what you are learning here, to determine if there is an immediate danger. In any emergency, local authorities may or may not immediately be able to provide information on what is happening and what you should do. However, you should watch TV, listen to the radio or check the Internet often for information or official instruction as it becomes available.
- Know the community’s plans for disasters
- Know where the shelters and evacuation routes are
- Know your community’s emergency responder contact information
- Also know your work’s plan, and your kids’ school plan.
- Make sure that you talk about your plan as a family
- Have an annual drill to practice your plans
- Make sure you update your plan as information changes
Once you have developed a kit and a plan, the key to prevailing over disasters is to stay current with disaster activity. Knowing if a disaster is on its way, if an emergency is in progress, or how frequently certain disasters occur in your area can make an incredible difference in your level of readiness.
There are many tools available for you to maintain a high level of awareness with regard to disasters in Alaska.