Forum helps prepare for emergencies

Posted: Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Are you prepared for winter storms, earthquakes, terrorists? Since the advent of Y2K and now Sept. 11, an increasing number of people are talking about the need for emergency preparedness. Careful planning helps ensure you'll have what you need to be safer and more comfortable until emergency crews arrive.

This Saturday, Jan. 25, all Juneau citizens are invited to a free, public forum from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Tlingit & Haida Community Center, 3235 Hospital Drive, The event is sponsored by the Cooperative Extension Service and University of Alaska Fairbanks.

It will feature a number of statewide experts. Cheryl Easterwood, disaster plan manager for the City and Borough of Juneau and trainer Nick Meacher, will talk about the flow of Juneau's Disaster Response and Community Emergency Response Teams - who does what, when, where, why and how, once an emergency strikes.

Retired CBJ Public Works Director Ernie Mueller will serve as the master of ceremonies. A complimentary continental breakfast will begin the event at 8 a.m., followed by a welcome by Juneau Mayor Sally Smith. Keynote speaker Edward Thomas, president of Central Council, Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska will discuss the traditional ways of responding to emergencies, which will prove helpful for people from all walks of life. A dramatization with Christine Harder called "Expect the Unexpected" will give the participants a sense of what the emergency experience might be like.

First Lady Nancy Murkowski will offer a welcome mid-morning and at noon there will be a brown bag lunch, courtesy of the city and an opportunity to talk with experts and friends. During this time, participants are encouraged to stop by the Share Fair table, which will offer all sorts of brochures and handouts on helpful resources. For those who have already made a disaster kit with such items as a flashlight, extra batteries, water, food, a battery or hand powered radio, etc., a variety of helpful checklists will be available for preparing your own.

Morning sessions on securing shelter, energy and clean water will be presented by Rich Seifert and Malcolm Ford of Alaska Cooperative Extension. In the afternoon, Bret Luik, Kristy Long, Emma Widmark and Linda Athons of Alaska Cooperative Extension will teach about food resources in a crisis, nutritional requirements, securing food, safe storage and planning, as well as options for emergency food preparation.

Staying calm and keeping a positive outlook are key elements of surviving emergencies. Roxy Dinstel and Lucy Bayles of the Extension Service will talk about mental health preparation as well as how to help individuals and families recover after the crisis.

At the end of the day, those who are present will be eligible to win one of the "emergency preparedness" door prizes: Flashlights, batteries, smoke alarm, tarp, and fire extinguisher donated by Valley Lumber; four red fleece blankets donated by Tlingit & Haida; a portable radio donated by Costco; a hooded sweatshirt and Pendleton wool blanket donated by SealaskaCorp. For registration and further information about the forum, please call 465-8749.

Marianne Mills oversees senior citizen nutrition and transportation programs in Juneau, Skagway, Sitka, and Yakutat as a staff member of Southeast Senior Services, a program of Catholic Community Service. CCS assists all persons regardless of their faith.

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