It’s a dark, cold, fiercely windy evening and the power goes out. You use your cell phone to light your way to the closet where you keep the flashlight and the candles. When a half hour has passed and the electricity still hasn’t come on you realize you don’t have extra batteries for the flashlight and your cell phone is almost out of juice too. I should have been more prepared, you think. Minor emergencies like this may remind us to pick up a fresh pack of batteries for next time, but what if you’re faced with a REAL emergency? Are you prepared?
As a parent, you certainly try to be. It’s important, however, to remember that emergencies come in bigger packages than “oops, I forgot to bring diapers” and “I think I left the teddy bear on the plane!”
According to Ernie Mueller, Disaster Response Specialist for the American Red Cross of Alaska, the emergencies that most often occur in Juneau are house fires, floods, landslides and avalanches. Here are some tips he provides for preparing for disaster:
- Have a smoke detector in each bedroom. Have a smoke detector on each floor. Have a carbon monoxide detector on each floor. Check them every month to see that they are working. Change the batteries every year. Mark the battery with the date and month it was put in. Remember that some detectors that plug in the wall also have a battery backup,” said Mueller.
- If you have a fire extinguisher, learn how to use it (call the Fire Department to find out.) Do not take chances, grab your family and get out, call 911. Fire extinguishers are for really small fires…if you have not been trained in using one, don’t try to use it, just get out and call 911. Teach your kids how to call 911.
- Have an evacuation plan for your home. Go over it with your family and practice it. Make sure that every family member knows two ways to get out of every room, and where you will meet if you need to evacuate your home, like outside by the mail box.
- Get a kit of important items for your evacuation. There are lists available from our office, or you can go to www.redcross.org, or www.alaska.recross.org. Have a kit near your exit door and grab it on the way out.
A power outage may only qualify as a minor emergency if it only lasts an hour, but Mueller says it is important to make sure you’re ready for the ones that last.
“By being prepared for small emergencies we learn how to prepare for the bigger ones. In many ways, a power outage can be a big problem if it goes on for several days. But even for small outages you will need to have some equipment, like a hard wired phone, battery powered lights, battery radio, weather radio, extra batteries, etc. You will need the same stuff, and more, if you have to evacuate your home for days, weeks, months, or maybe forever,” Mueller explained.
To learn more on how to prepare for emergencies in Juneau, contact The City and Borough of Juneau Emergency Programs office at (907) 586-0221. Mueller says the office has lots of information and some items to help you and your kids prepare for disaster. He also suggests taking the kids to your local fire department to learn about fire safety.