PUBLISHED: 7:34 PM on Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Being prepared when disaster happens
No matter where you live in the United States, disasters happen and how you respond depends on how you prepare. So, as we head into another winter with projections of high precipitation and colder temperatures, there is no better time to be informed, make a plan and get trained.

Last winter Juneau faced extremely high avalanche dangers that resulted in voluntary evacuations of those people living in avalanche areas. Evacuation centers were set up and local media relayed information for families to make informed descions regarding whether to evacuate or not. Fortunately, Juneau escaped an avalanche; unfortunately, many families disregarded the warnings and stayed in their homes.

"It won't happen to me or my family." This is the most common quote heard in regards to disaster and preparedness. But haven't we learned in the last few years that disasters are unpredictable? There is no room for complacency when it comes to preparing our families for emergencies so as to ensure everyone's safety.

Preparedness is a simple step to take in finding peace of mind and a genuine act of love to those you hold nearest to the heart.

So, what can you do to prepare for the unthinkable? Be informed. Find out what potential disaster can occur in your community.

In Juneau we face avalanches, earthquakes, landslides, floods and short wave tsunamis. Take warnings seriously, and if voluntary evacuations are issued, then consider leaving. It's better to be safe than find out too late that you made the wrong choice in staying.

Get a kit. Your preparedness kit should be in a place that is near your exit point and easily assessable.

Be sure to have copies of important insurance documents, birth certificates, as well as wills and other important financial documents.

You should have a flashlight and radio; and if battery powered, be sure to have extra batteries. Be sure to have a seven to ten day supply of non-perishable food items, warm clothing, extra medications, mess kits, and toiletry items.

If you have infants or children be sure to remember formula, diapers, games and special treats, and be sure to have a first aid kit as well. Go through your kit every six months and replace batteries, expired food and medications.

Have a plan. Decide on a meeting place outside your home in case of fire. Make a fire escape plan and practice it at least twice a year.

Practice what to do in an earthquake, go on a hazard hut to find out what items in your home could potentially cause injury if they were to fall.

Make a family communication plan. If you have children and they are at school and you're at work and disaster strikes, where will you meet? What if you are cut off from your family due to road damage?

What is your plan? Identify a relative or friend in the continental US that will be the one you call to say you're okay.

Finally, get trained! In a large scale disaster, emergency personnel may not be able to get to you for a long time; you may be the life line for some you love, so please be prepared to be a first responder by receiving CPR and first aid training.

Disaster happens, but you and your family can get through it with a little work on your part and by taking the necessary steps to be prepared.

If you would like more information on disaster preparedness, to purchase a disaster supply kit or to receive CPR/First Aid training call your American Red Cross at 463-5713.

How you prepare today may save a life tomorrow.