2020 — unfortunately — has provided many circumstances that highlight the wisdom of being prepared for emergencies.

So much so that National Preparedness Month probably should have occurred in January. Alas, it was scheduled for September, but now is still a good time to think about strategies for handling disasters and other woeful events.

According to the State of Alaska’s Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, everyone in Alaska should be aware of the natural hazards that could affect their communities.

“Alaskans face a wide range of natural disasters such as earthquakes, wildfires, floods, storms and now the COVID-19 pandemic,” stated an agency announcement recently. “Each family or individual can gain piece of mind by taking simple steps to become better prepared.”

The agency recommends that Alaskans have a family emergency plan that describes each household member’s responsibilities during a disaster, in addition to other information such as meet-up locations, how to contact each other and where to go if the home residence is not an option.

It’s also prudent to practice responses for the types of risk and hazards that might occur.

For example, earthquakes are a risk in the Southeast Alaska area because of the Queen Charlotte-Fairweather fault system that runs offshore in a north-south direction parallel to the coastline. The system produced the 2012 magnitude 7.8 Haida Gwaii earthquake, in addition to the 2013 7.5 magnitude earthquake centered about 71 miles west-southwest of Craig.

Practicing drills such as “Drop, cover and hold on” can help ensure proper safety responses in the event of an actual earthquake. It’s also wise to look around one’s residence to identify and relocate items that could be dangerous if toppled by a temblor.

The agency also recommends having an emergency supply kit that includes food, water, battery operated radio, flashlight, first aid supplies, tools and important documents, The kits should have enough supplies for at least seven days — two weeks is optimal. The COVID-19 pandemic underscores the importance of things like personal protective equipment, sanitizer and over-the-counter medications.

Further information about emergency planning is available on the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management website at www.ready.gov/alaska.

We encourage everyone to take the time to consider and prepare responses to emergencies that could arise here in Ketchikan. The community has a Local Emergency Planning Committee and other entities that are involved in emergency response planning and preparedness, but there is much that can be done on the individual and family level, as well.

It’s worth spending a bit of time and effort now to potentially avoid much heartache later.