‘One hour of planning each month:’ Seldovia Village Tribe hosts monthly emergency preparedness series
Living in Alaska means living with the unexpected, whether it be an emergency, accident or natural disaster. Being prepared for the unpredictable is the goal of a new year-long series of emergency preparedness events, hosted by the Seldovia Village Tribe.
“The premise of ‘Prepare in a Year’ is you can take one hour of planning and action each month, and you can help the community as a whole become more resilient,” said Mark Ball, the tribal emergency manager who is leading the preparedness series, which will take place the last Thursday of each month.
“Because as we know, emergency services will be overwhelmed quickly in a disaster, and the more prepared we are individually, the quicker we can recover as a community,” he said.
The series started in January, with an event on emergency communication plans. Each month will include brief recaps on the topics previously covered, in addition to the new material, and each event will be recorded and posted on the Seldovia Village Tribe’s Facebook page.
The next event will focus on preparing a personal action plan, and is scheduled for this Thursday evening, Feb. 23, at 6 p.m. in person at the SVT Health and Wellness Center in Homer, with a hot meal provided, and on Zoom.
“Alaska is filled with all kinds of hazards from earthquakes and volcanoes to power outages and snowstorms,” Ball said. “And if you think about your house individually, what is it you are going to need in order to survive, if something happens? Are you prepared for three days, seven days, two weeks? Or do you have to run to the store to get food to make dinner that night. And so we want people to start thinking about how they can be more resilient and more self-sufficient in the event of an emergency.”
Ball said the curriculum is adapted from the Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management's guidelines available at ready.alaska.gov. It will include the Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Management’s “Ready Set Go!” plan.
That includes planning where to shelter, how much food, water and supplies you’ll need for at least seven days, and a communication plan, which Ball said is often overlooked, but crucial for being ready.
“Depending on what type of emergency you have, your communication plan may change,” he said. “For instance, if your smoke alarms go off in your house, while everybody's going to come out of the house, have you communicated a plan of where to meet? I know of a story of somebody that died because the house caught fire, everybody bailed out the windows. One of the kids thought that his younger sister was still in the house so he went back in the house not knowing [his] mother and father grabbed the sister and went out the back window. So you need to communicate those plans.”
Ball said families should have a common emergency contact at least 100 miles outside of the community to check in with, in case people get separated and local calls can’t go through. He said residents should also sign up for Kenai Borough Peninsula emergency alerts from the borough website to get timely updates.
This week’s event is part of the tribe’s weekly Thrive Health and Wellness series. It will also feature a hands-on portion led by Health and Wellness Coach Jenifer Dickson in making a calendula salve for emergency kits.
Looking ahead, each month will focus on a different aspect of emergency preparedness, including water storage in March, and grab and go kits, wildfire, earthquakes and tsunami, and volcanic eruptions in later months.
This time of year, Ball said it’s important to think about snowfall, power outages, backup heat and water sources.
“Emergencies happen in all shapes and sizes,” he said. “It could be that we received 24 inches of snow, and now I can't get out of my driveway, because I need to plow it. But it doesn't matter if I plow because the roads are not plowed. And now I have an emergency, whether I'm sick, or I don't have any food or water, or I slip and fall. Because slip and falls are very prevalent this time of year as well. And those are things we need to think about. What are we going to do in an emergency? And how are we going to help the community help us?”
To find more information about the Seldovia Village Tribe’s emergency preparedness series or for the Zoom link for the Thursday event, visit svt.org or visit their Facebook page.