Practicing disaster preparedness locally is necessary

April 26, 2011

By Olivia Spokoiny

The widespread destruction from the Japan earthquake and tsunami not only engulfed entire towns and took hundreds of lives, but shocked the world and presented us all with an important question: Would we be ready if something disastrous were to happen in our area?

By Olivia Spokoiny

Most local families would be grossly unprepared if our area were to be stricken by a similar disaster or even a minor case. A common attitude is that devastating events cannot and will not happen in places closer to home, but this attitude is not entirely realistic and can be dangerous. Of course, the chances that a tsunami would come barreling through the streets of Issaquah are slim to none, but the fact is that natural disasters do happen.

In our area, we are faced with minor, temporary annual hardships, such as snowstorms, windstorms and power outages. Even in these cases, hundreds of families find that their households are ill-equipped in the event of a disturbance in weather.

As temperatures drop in the winter, we are at risk more than any other time of the year for several reasons, the most obvious one being snow. When it snows in Issaquah, sometimes we are lucky enough to enjoy a few snow days in a row. However, we feel much less fortunate when we are trapped in our houses because of ice on the road.

There are other dangers that are more catastrophic than anything we can see, such as carbon dioxide poisoning in power outages and cold temperatures. Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that cannot be detected by sight or by smell, but it can kill a person within minutes. There have been numerous deaths related to the use of charcoal grills in homes, or gas ovens as sources of heat. By understanding how to handle these situations, we reduce the chances of injury and harm during disasters.

There are many local resources to ensure that families and individuals will be prepared for disasters. On April 16, Sammamish held a Disaster Preparedness Fair at City Hall. The event provided information about proper preparation for disasters and advice regarding supplies that are important to stock up on.

The fair covered all sorts of topics, ranging from basic first aid, business and household preparedness, as well as plans for pets and animals. If you missed this fair, you can start becoming educated by reading Beat reporter Katie Sutherland’s article of dos and don’ts of disaster preparedness.

It is important to recognize that so many people are unprepared in minor disasters, and it is absolutely necessary to be educated regarding the consequences of not taking the time to plan for emergencies.

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