JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska – September is National Preparedness Month and Join Base Elmendorf-Richardson’s Emergency Management Flight encourages everyone to educate themselves on how to handle disasters-- before, during, and after.
“National Preparedness Month is every September, but disasters and accidents don’t wait for September to roll around before they happen,” says Tech. Sgt. Shawn Simmons, a 773d Civil Engineer Squadron Emergency Management craftsman. “Preparedness is a year-round thing. Floods or power outages don’t care if we’re ready or not. We never need emergency supplies or escape plans until we need them right now, so we save ourselves that extra stress by answering our ‘what-if’ questions while they’re just hypothetical.”
Alaska has earthquakes every day and has been the site of volcanic eruptions at least once a year for the past 40 years.
Effective preparation reduces the potential of structural damage or personal injury by decreasing response time. A well-stocked emergency kit is a must for any home or business, especially during a severe winter storm or the aftermath of a massive earthquake. If there are no clear pathways to food and water, kits should have the necessary supplies to sustain each individual in the home for at least a week.
Disasters can interrupt commutes by destroying bridges or roads to leveling entire buildings. Being prepared with plenty of supplies or having a plan could save a life.
The American Red Cross recommends tailoring emergency kits to threats in the local area in addition to basic requirements. These basics include: water, non-perishable food, first-aid kit, important documentation, flashlight/light source, hand-cranked or battery-powered radio, extra batteries, multi-purpose tools, personal hygiene items, extra cash, emergency blankets, and map(s) of the area.
Preparing for emergencies can be an intimidating task, but there are many resources on the specifics of creating a kit and general preparedness. Some helpful links for this are: www.fema.gov, www.earthquake.usgs.gov, www.pdc.org, www.avo.alaska.edu, and www.ready.gov/build-a-kit.
“You can build a pretty effective emergency kit in one BX trip if you want to,” said Simmons. “During that one-in-a-million instance where you have to crack open a kit during a flood or blackout, that extra five minutes or $20 for a flashlight and a blanket will have paid off.”
The JBER Emergency Management Flight is working to spread this message of preparedness to the community. For the entire month of September, you can find them at the Base Exchange with an informational booth on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
For more information, visit the JBER Emergency Management Office at the 773rd Civil Engineer Squadron (Building 6326), visit the JBER EM Facebook page, or call (907) 552-3640.