“Be Prepared,” that well-known Boy Scout motto has never been more needed than in recent months. It seems that every time we turn around there is another disaster or emergency scenario playing out. Whether it’s hurricanes, floods, draught, fires, earthquakes, eruptions, storms or terrorists (we just remembered 9/11), things happen and it seems they are happening more regularly. We are definitely living in a day to ‘be ready’ for the unexpected.

Being ready does not have to be a burden. Most of us have lived somewhere that required us to keep blankets in our car or carry a flashlight. That is really all that being ready is about. It’s about taking responsibility for ourselves and our family, thinking ahead a little bit, and putting some things together.

There’s lots of information out there for us. We can look to that Boy Scout Handbook or do a simple google search on ‘emergency preparedness.’ It will give you 50 million or so hits, but there is probably enough info on page one to take care of you. Some of the most informative pages are the American Red Cross, www.redcross.org and Homeland Security at www.ready.gov. At these sites you will find info on everything from 72-hour kits to how to handle your pets in an emergency. You can keep yourself busy for days reading over the articles, but don’t get distracted and forget to do what you are reading.

The most important part of emergency preparedness is actually thinking through what may happen. Studies have shown that by taking even a few minutes to consider an escape route, or calling plan, or ‘go bag’ may save your life. Though people think that panic is the normal reaction to an emergency, the first reaction most have is to freeze. We don’t want to admit something is really occurring so we go into an “everything is normal” mode and miss important seconds or minutes in our response time. So think through and talk over with friends what you will do in various situations.

The next important step is actually practicing a plan. Practice increases your chances dramatically and will give you an immense advantage if you are faced with an emergency. Don’t let the concern for, “What will people think!” keep you from trying out your fire plan. If anything ever happens, you will be relieved when the whole family is together at the mailbox while your home is burning. If you have small children you can even make a game of it. It is amazing what we will remember after actually practicing something.

And last but not least, gather your supplies, pack a ‘go bag’ or ‘bug out bag’, and put it in your car or wherever your plan dictates. Personalize your bag. Review the basic lists and put in what you need for you or for your family or pets. Don’t make it so big you can’t move it, but also don’t leave things out because you don’t think they are important. The people who make these lists have been there and talked with folks who have wished for things. Once you’ve packed your bag set a reminder somewhere so you can update or check your bag on a regular basis, such as, when you check your smoke alarm battery. It is amazing what will walk out of your bag one item at a time. Bags get raided for supplies on a regular basis,

There are lots of ways in Reedsport to be part of the solution in an emergency instead of part of the problem: 1.) Get yourself ready. Follow the instructions presented here. 2.) Hook up with CERT, or the American Red Cross, or one of the local Fire Departments by attending one of their drill nights or visit Reedsport’s website www.cityofreedsport.org. They are always looking for volunteers and have some great training. 3.) Participate in emergency drills such as The Great Oregon Shakeout coming up at 10:19 a.m. on October 19. www.shakeout.org/oregon.

Being prepared is a way of life that we should all live, because we just never know what might happen!