Military News

Thursday, September 03, 2015

National Preparedness Month

by Airman 1st Class Christopher Morales
JBER Public Affairs


9/3/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Alaska has experienced more than 60 magnitude 6.0 and higher earthquakes in the past 10 years.

"We have a very different geographical layout. So a 6.0 in California is more severe than a 6.0 here because most of our earthquakes are remote," said Michael West, State Seismotologist with the Alaska Earthquake Center. "The one that I fear is the 6.0 that will happen in Juneau or any other city."

Earthquakes are not our only danger in Alaska; earthquakes can cause a multitude of disasters afterward like landslides, soil slumping, flooding, tsunamis and can negatively affect volcanoes.

September is National Preparedness Month, and local emergency services encourage people to prepare for and be educated on what to do before, during and after a disaster.

Alaska has its own unique circumstances that must be considered when planning for emergency contingencies like floods, wildfires, earthquakes, snowstorms and volcanic activity.

"National Preparedness Month is an opportunity for us to refocus on the threats we confront, what we can do to be ready," said Air Force Capt. Ted Labedz, JBER Emergency Management flight commander.

Alaska has earthquakes every day, and volcanic eruptions once a year for the past 40 years.

"If you don't have your [emergency] kit ready now, afterward is not the time to put it together," said Jilene Reichle, JBER Emergency Management plans and operations manager.

Readiness reduces the threat of structural damage or personal injury by responding quickly and allowing other emergency responders to focus their efforts on more critical cases.

Disasters can interrupt commutes by destroying bridges or flooding roads, so being prepared with plenty of supplies or having a plan could save a life.

The American Red Cross recommends emergency kits be tailored to threats in the local area, and must contain the basics. These include: water, non-perishable food, first-aid kit, important documentation, flashlight/light source, hand-cranked or battery-powered radio, extra batteries, multi-purpose tool, personal hygiene items, extra cash, emergency blanket and map(s) of the area.

"All the items in a kit are important... they all serve a purpose and are equally significant," Reichle said.

The Mat-Su Emergency Expo and Safety Fair is scheduled for Sept. 19 at the Mat-Su College. Emergency Management hosts an informational booth at the Base Exchange, Sept. 2, 9,16 and 23, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Preparing for emergencies can be an intimidating task, but there are many resources on the specifics of creating a kit and being prepared in general.

Some helpful links are: www.fema.gov, www.earthquake.usgs.gov, www.pdc.org, www.avo.alaska.edu, and www.ready.gov/build-a-kit.

All it takes is the right amount of rain to cause a landslide or a flood. All it takes is one rough earthquake to negatively affect a volcano or break a dam. All it takes is one disaster for it to be your last.

"If you're not prepared, you're not ready," Reichle said. "If the lights go out, do you [even] have a flashlight?"

For more information, visit the JBER Emergency Management office or call 551-7526.

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