Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Don’t be snowed by false sense of safety

Life is unexpected. Need proof? Look out the window.

Mother Nature seems to have forgotten the Kenai Peninsula doesn’t expect its first shot of snow until the end of October, around Halloween, usually.

Oct. 6 isn’t a record for the earliest measurable snowfall of the year — that’d be in September — but the white was a wake-up call that winter’s on its way.

Are the snow tires out yet? Is the snowblower gassed up? Have the winter boots been dug out of storage?

Now’s the time to get a winter checklist drawn up and start crossing items off. This snowfall won’t stick around for long, but the next one might.

While you’re at it, start preparing for the unexpected in other areas, as well. Around here, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and wildfires aren’t a matter of if they will happen, but when.

If it’s tomorrow, next week, or even next year, will you be ready?

Will your neighbors? That’s a key question often overlooked in emergency preparedness. People plan how to help themselves and their immediate families, but few put thought into what they can do to make sure those around them are safe, as well.

Every man for himself is an unavoidable, at least to some degree, natural response to emergency situations. But the more that’s done to make sure everyone responds in a calm, orderly fashion, the better the situation will be for everyone involved.

The Westbrook Subdivision off Kalifornsky Beach Road is a great example of how a community can come together to be ready for whatever may come its way. They instituted a neighborhood watch program and have a network of communication in place so if there is an emergency, they know who may need extra help, and who may be able to provide it.

It goes somewhat against the Alaska mystique to admit to needing assistance, in an emergency or otherwise, which may create resistance to community preparedness planning. We can shovel our own driveways, haul our own water and split our own firewood, by gum.

If you don’t need any help, that’s great. But maybe someone needs you. That’s the other part of the Alaska idiom: We’re on our own, but we take care of our own.

For that alone it’s worth following Westbrook’s example. Find out what your neighborhood’s needs are and make a plan to meet them.

Snow the first week of October should serve as a reminder that there’s worse in store.

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