Opinion

Prepare yourselves

The City of Mercer Island seems as prepared as can be expected in case of a natural disaster or emergency. It has identified some of the hazards the Island could face, such as landslides, earthquakes and severe storms.

It has an Emergency Management Coordinator, Dee Totten, as well as an Emergency Operations Center at City Hall. It has a Hazard Mitigation Plan, written in 2004 and available on its Web site (www.ci.mercer-island.wa.us). The site also has helpful information to prepare yourself for emergencies, including a list of supplies.

The Island's ham radio operators work with the city on emergency communications and know to dispatch themselves to each of the nine disaster supply containers located throughout the Island. The nine containers coincide with the geographical regions the Island is divided into for emergency management, each with its own captains through the city's Neighborhood Preparedness Program.

However, city planning can go only so far. We live on an island. Residents should prepare themselves to function for several days without the help of government organizations during an emergency. As Hurricane Katrina showed us, emergency responders could be overwhelmed immediately after a disaster, and citizens may largely be left to fend for themselves until events are under control. That means having enough food, water, medications, batteries, transistor radios, light sources, first aid and other supplies on hand for three to seven days for every member of your family.

Since many Mercer Islanders can well equip themselves to care for their families, all who can should do so and free up first responders to help those who cannot.

Fittingly, September is National Preparedness Month, and the City of Mercer Island is holding a number of events to recognize that fact.

Public Safety Day is being held at the north-end fire station, 3030 78th Ave. S.E., from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. this Saturday. There will be a one-hour emergency preparedness class at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 29 at City Hall and another class Tuesday, Oct. 11, at the north fire station. For more information, please call Dee Totten at 236-3576.

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