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By Major Mike Dryden USAR Retired
Senior Voice Correspondent 

Emergency planning is a year-round priority


February 1, 2018

With the New Year behind us and February under way, many of us have already forgotten our well-intended resolutions and plans to change something in our lives for the better. The old standbys are losing weight, joining a gym, stopping smoking, and calling your friends and family more. But today, let’s strive to make a resolution that may save your life. Let’s take some baby steps toward self-sufficiency in the unlikely event of a natural disaster that interrupts our normal lives.

FEMA and the Dept. of Homeland Security have plans for every conceivable event and the proper corrective measures to be implemented in the event a natural disaster strikes. These plans have been fine-tuned, modified and customized to mitigate as much of the disruptive damage as possible to the residents of Alaska.

In my many years as an Army Aviation Logistics Officer, I submitted numerous logistic annexes to major OPLANS (battle plan) in CONUS and overseas. I have dealt with pages of data on similar events in the hopes all contingencies would be covered. I am sure I am not alone when I say these pre-event planning documents were useful for about 30 seconds after the action started. But having a plan is better than having a “Ole Darn” moment (feel free to substitute your favorite phrase).

For seniors who have special needs, I need to emphasize that you are your best advocate. Do not count on someone else to take care of you. Most of the shelters will be in operation but maybe not yours. If you need medication, keep a “Go Bag” near your supply. The time to plan is now. Many of the steps I recommend require little if any extra money.

As a former Vietnam era Army helicopter pilot, I had the pleasure of attending a SERE course (survival, escape, resistance and evasion). The most useful piece of advice I remember was you can go four minutes without air, four hours without shelter, four days without water, and forty days without food. I point this out so you will be able to prioritize your pre-disaster planning.

You need at least a gallon of drinking water per person per day stored somewhere in your house. A two-week supply is recommended. Many FDA approved containers are on the market, but if your budget doesn’t allow you to buy the blue water containers, then a low-cost alternative are freezer zip lock bags. You can buy one or two gallons sizes and store them almost anywhere. If you haven’t already done this life-saving step, then put this newspaper down now, and go do it.

The same goes for food. Your three-day supply in your “Bug out Bag” should be ready-to-eat since food preparation facilities may not be available (smoked sardines in oil are my favorite). Dried fruit like raisins and apples are easily obtained but remember to stay hydrated. If you are staying put in your home, then you will need to have another method of cooking. For heaven sakes, don’t bring the BBQ grill inside and give your family carbon monoxide poisoning.

In your preparations, don’t forget Miss Boots and Fido’s needs. Most shelters will require an airline type kennel, and you will be responsible to feed and care for your pets.

In Alaska, you will need heat and light sources that aren’t dependent on the electrical grid. You hear a great deal about “The Grid.” Outsiders (unfortunate lower 48ers) do have a potential problem resulting from lower 48 and Canadian power generating plants’ intertie system designed to cover disaster-related power outages by re-directing power to locations without service.

In Alaska every village is a grid; that means they are not tied into another electrical power grid system. To my knowledge, the same situation exists between the Anchorage Bowl and the Interior. This is a good thing, so don’t call your elected officials. Although I complain as much as the next person about my electric bill, I take comfort in the fact that our power company’s linemen are some of the best in the world and can operate in extreme conditions.

An ample supply of candles, matches and flashlights should be stored now. Make sure you have extra blankets and sleeping bags. Goodwill, Salvation Army and Bishop’s Attic are great sources for low cost used equipment. Try to go on 50 percent off day. Look on Craigslist and the community bulletin boards at grocery stores for deals. You will be surprised by the availability and price. Don’t be afraid to haggle.

As morbid as this may sound, have your next of kin contact information and any special medical concerns on your person. The latter precaution could save your life.

Finally, personal safety needs should be addressed. There is safety in numbers, and a small network of friends and family should be arranged before it’s too late. Depression is as much of a killer as are people with nefarious intent and the lack of public utilities.

In closing, I believe your second amendment rights needs to be addressed. You have the right but not the requirement to arm yourself. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Get some professional training if you have never fired a weapon and maybe consider a concealed carry permit. During the training, you will be educated on when and where deadly force is allowed.

As for your choice of weapon, make that decision after your training. My personal choice is a pump shotgun with an expanded capacity magazine. This weapon can be used to hunt ptarmigans and Zombies. Be sure to aim for the Zombie’s head. I recommend “The Night of the Living Dead” as a training video for Zombie control.

Act now while you are not under stress. Let’s continue into 2018 with some useful proactive preparations.

Until next issue, stay safe.

Mike Dryden is a retired Army major and a board member for Older Persons Action Group, Inc.


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