I talked to many people at the Alaska State Fair about emergency preparedness planning. Several had already put together supplies that would last them the recommended 72 hours.
Some preparedness planners in Alaska suggest you have seven days of items for everyone in the family — that includes every man, woman, child, dog, cat and the gerbil. The reason that a larger supply is recommended in Alaska is the variability of season, the possible scale of the emergency and the shakiness of our food security system.
We must plan for all seasons and we might have something as mild as a power outage for a length of time or as drastic as an earthquake or wildfires forcing us from the premises. So, we need to be ready during the cold winters or in the heat of summer. Think about the variation in extra clothes that will be needed.
Being prepared for all seasons means having containers that will not be brittle and break in cold weather or having coolers and ice blocks in the freezer ready to go for when the power goes out during the summer. You want to have containers and a packing system that is going to allow each family member — even the kiddos — to carry something off. Seven days of stuff. Maybe you want to use small duffle bags and knapsacks for the kids while packing in larger duffels and trunks that parents can lug. Or, consider your luggage on roller wheels, which you may only use for vacation once or twice a year.
Thinking about transport also includes having a mobile method to move the recommended one gallon of water per day ration, for seven days. Each gallon weighs eight pounds. This works out to being able to move 56 pounds of clean drinking water for each person. If you can stay in the home — though you may not have electricity or a generator to run your well pump — you probably do have 60 gallons of water on hand in your electric hot water heater. But you will want to have a hose on hand to drain the water out of the bottom and into containers as needed.
Now, if you want a good idea of what to pack into the containers, look at Extension’s publication, “Emergency Preparedness for Alaskans.” It is a free illustrated checklist available online at http://bit.ly/AKemergencyprep or through our Tanana District Extension office in the Fairbanks Community Food Bank building.
I’ve looked at the 200-plus, site-specific disaster declarations made by various governors in the last few decades. Many disaster declarations were made as a result of flooding during breakup when the temperature is cold and others followed storm-related events that caused “cold weather failure.” During most of these disasters, electricity was out. So, think of this: What items can you have on hand and plan for before we get colder temperatures? Whatever you choose to organize your items into, do think ahead about having one week’s worth of provisions ready to go on a moment’s notice.
Art Nash is the energy specialist for the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service. Contact him at 907-474-6366 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.