Southwest Washington residents woke up from Labor Day Weekend to powerful winds, widespread outages and dozens of fires tearing across the landscape.
Within hours of the wind picking up on Monday more than a 100,000 customers were without power in the Portland metro area. Dozens of fires also sprang up across the region, forcing people to evacuate and, tragically, costing many their homes and livelihoods.
These are grim reminders that every household needs to have an emergency kit and plan in place so that when a disaster does happen, everyone is prepared. Notably, September is National Preparedness Month.
Clark County residents will most likely need their kits for power outages. Most Clark Public Utilities outages only last for a few hours, but sometimes they last longer.
In four easy steps, you and your family can be ready to respond to an emergency. Make the planning process more manageable by focusing on one step at a time.
First, make a plan. Talk with your friends and family about how everyone will communicate during and after a disaster, where everyone will meet, or assemble, and what to do if you become separated.
Next, build your kit. Gather supplies that will last for several days and meet the needs of everyone in the home. Your kit should include a wide array of tools and necessities to sustain your household comfortably, whether you have to shelter in place at home or evacuate quickly.
Start by selecting a sturdy tote or durable drawstring bag that is large enough to hold everything you need while still being portable if a quick evacuation is necessary. Fill it with nonperishable food, several flashlights, plenty of extra batteries, and potentially a portable jump starter — most of which can also charge electronic devices. Include a first aid kit, a manual can opener and a radio. Other emergency supplies, such as tarps, rain gear, knives, tools and blankets are also a good idea. It doesn’t have to fit inside the kit, but keep at least one gallon of water per person per day stored nearby.
Next, think about the specific needs of everyone in the home. Include any prescription medications that may be necessary. Be sure to keep a good supply of food and medications for the family pets. Also, think about the special needs of young children and infants, if you have them.
Whatever you include in your kit, there should be enough supplies to last everyone for at least three days. Store your kit in an easy to reach and easy to find location. That way, if the power goes out it’ll be easy to find.
At step three, prepare for disasters. Know the risks of disasters in your region, county, even your neighborhood and check your insurance coverage. Take what steps you can to minimize the dangers to your home and property, and find ways to make them stronger in the face of storms and other hazards.
Finally, talk with your children and older or dependent relatives about preparing for an emergency and what to do if you are separated. Reassure and empower them by providing them useful information and teach them how they can get involved in keeping the family safe.
If the power goes out where you are, be sure to report it to Clark Public Utilities at the utility’s website or by calling 360-992-8000.
Clark Public Utilities provides up-to-date outage and safety information at www.clarkpublicutilities.com/outages-safety. The outage map shows where electrical outages are located and approximately how many customers are affected.
Energy Adviser is written by Clark Public Utilities. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or to Energy Adviser, c/o Clark Public Utilities, P.O. Box 8900, Vancouver, WA 98668.