For a very long time now we have heard from volunteers, the city and other agencies to be prepared for emergencies. Whether it be from earthquakes, storms or other catastrophes, we are warned to be ready to help ourselves. And now that fall is turning toward winter, we should need no more of a reminder than the cold winds that have blown through these past 10 days. As many of us remember from the winter of 2006-2007, that wind can bring darkness. A succession of storms that winter toppled trees, felled power lines, blocked roads with debris, and smashed roofs, leaving some Islanders without power for a week. Since that time, Puget Sound Energy has worked to harden the electrical grid on the Island. But what is sometimes forgotten is that if the Island is severely damaged from windstorms, the rest of the region probably is too. PSE must often restore power to thousands of customers from Jefferson County to Enumclaw at the same time. Often, it seems that the Island is perhaps the last to be restored, as utility resources must be applied to getting the electricity back to areas where the most can benefit. We are shocked and angry each time. Yet safety officials remind us repeatedly that we must be prepared to rely on ourselves for seven to 10 days. We can do that by keeping enough water and food on hand with the usual accoutrements of flashlights, batteries, radios, etc. The city has fine-tuned its ability to reach out to residents with the addition of the high school radio station to let Islanders know what is happening with storm conditions and when power and other services will be restored. Finally, we need to look out for each other. We need to make sure that those around us are OK and have what they need to get by. We are all in this together. For all the details, go to www.mercer.gov.