Preparing for ‘When,’ Not ‘If’…


Irene Torres, KP News

Loa Andersen (left) talks about cooking in emergencies with visitors to her booth, which was one of the more popular ones at the emergency preparedness fair. Photo: Rodika Tollefson, KP News

On Sept. 30, PEP-C (Peninsula Emergency Preparedness Committee) hosted the 2017 Preparedness Fair, an emergency preparedness workshop that featured over 40 experts, first-responders, vendors and community service agencies.

The purpose of the annual event is to help community members be ready for inevitable disasters, such as earthquakes.

Pierce County Emergency Management, Safe Streets, Peninsula School District, South Sound 911, American Red Cross, Costco, Puget Sound Energy, Peninsula Light, Cascade Regional Blood Services, FEMA, Communities in Schools and many other organizations and individuals provided classes and advice. Courses ranged from emergency prep for beginners, preparing a community, psychological first aid, HAM radio operations, military support plan and evacuation planning, to disaster preparedness for pets and many more.

Training programs ran simultaneously in 12 classrooms at Gig Harbor High School from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. There were nearly 60 opportunities to learn best practices in emergency preparedness and disaster preparation, self-defense, solar power options, neighborhood preparedness and response and other essential life-saving techniques. Some instructors gave details of their real-time emergency experiences.

Knowing about food safety, natural gas safety and the power-restoration process will be critical in the event of a disaster or emergency. Loa Andersen, of Gig Harbor area, challenged her students during a session to be prepared with at least five different ways of starting a fire. She advised, “Practice, practice, practice.”

Andersen asked, “Where will you be, what will you do, and what will you need?” and then, “What can you not do without?”

The topics of cooking without power and electric generator safety were popular. Introduction to disaster first aid and fire extinguisher training were offered several times.

PEP-C general chairman Curt Scott and Don Lee organized the event, planning for which took a year.

“It is amazing what they’ve done today,” Olalla resident Anne Davis said as she checked out the resources at the fair.

Being Prepared

FEMA’s policy is, “Do the most good for the most people.” That translates into the reality of a faster disaster response in urban centers and cities than out in the country, where the motto is, “You’re on your own.”

“Old information said to prepare for three days. We are now realizing we need to prepare for two to three weeks while waiting for disaster response,” said Dan Burstrom, assistant chief with Gig Harbor Fire District 5.

Preparing for earthquake, windstorm, ice storm, power outages, wildfire and other disasters requires planning in advance — before panic sets in. Doug Nelson, the Fox Island Emergency preparedness coordinator, advised, “Try to build a complete plan only with what you have.”

Peggy Gablehouse, representing the Key Peninsula Civic Center Emergency Shelter Committee as well as the PEP-C group at the emergency fair, said, “Your homework assignment is to think of 20 uses for a large plastic garbage bag.”

Need a hint? Some ideas are water collection and storage, or shelter from the rain.

The city of Euclid, Pierce County, has 50 more suggestions. Check them out here.


Local Meetings


The KP Civic Center hosts monthly meetings on emergency preparedness. The featured November speaker will be a representative of PC-NET with a presentation about the program, which helps establish neighborhood teams for emergency preparedness. The next meeting is at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 16, in Whitmore Room at the civic center. For information, contact Peggy Gablehouse at 253-686-7904. [/box]