Jim Whisman, a retired Lynden long-haul truck driver with millions (and I mean five-plus millions) of accident-free miles, once told me that driving is often hours and hours of boredom interrupted by seconds of sheer terror. For most of us, we may go weeks, months and even years enjoying incident free, boring drives. But that can all change in one instant. Are you prepared for potential terror?
September is National Emergency Preparedness Month. Do you have an emergency kit in your car? Do you know how to drive on ice and snow? Do you know what to do if you are the first on-scene at a major accident?
As the days get shorter, the temperatures cooler and the leaves settle on the ground, it’s a great time to prepare for upcoming winter adventures and all types of emergencies and possible disasters.
“I think September and October are the perfect months to catch your breath from the previous winter and busy summer seasons and start getting prepared to do it all again,” said five-time Iron Dog champion Chris Olds. “It’s also the time I usually either tune up my old sled or take delivery of a new one.”
Olds says there are a lot of little things you can do to make sure you spend your days riding and not turning wrenches once the snow flies.
“I go over my machine to check or change the fluids, make sure everything is tight, the chain, track, belt…and make sure the belts not worn. If it’s a new machine, I want to get real familiar with it. And if I rode it before, reacquainted.”
Sarah Carter, avalanche instructor for the Alaska Avalanche Information Center (AAIC) and an instructor for the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE,) also spends this time preparing for winter.
“One thing I like to do is take pictures of my favorite terrain before the snow covers it,” said Carter. “That way I’ll know what is under the snow and where I might need to be aware of a weak area or trigger point like rocks, glaciation or vegetation.”
She also recommends brushing up on trip planning. “I suggest you start thinking about where you want to ride and maybe plan goals and objectives for the riding season. Think about past rides that were fun and successful. Or maybe ones you learned something important from.”
Carter says she gets in the habit of watching the weather and snow forecast so she’ll have historical data.
“It’s good to get familiar with the weather and avalanche forecast websites. Then you can think about places where you might be able to enjoy some early season tours or where you’ll need more snow to go. And it gives you a good idea about the layers of snow we get when we have cold, rain, wind or snowy days.”
Finally both Olds and Carter recommend you get your safety gear out and checked.
“Fall is a great time to host a beacon search party,” suggests Carter. “You can invite your friends to bring their avalanche beacons, shovels and probes for some practice (games.)
“We always hope that your avalanche skills will keep you out of a slide, but if you ever get called on to search for someone else, you don’t want to be trying to figure out how to do it at that point,” said Carter. “Practicing during the pre-season fall is a sure way to make sure you’ll be confident and ready to go when it’s time to get out in the mountains.”
Did you know that most avalanches that injure or kill people are triggered by the victim or someone in their party?
At the 15th annual Emergency Preparedness Expo, set for September 30, 2023 at the Menard Sports Center in Wasilla from 10 am to 3 pm, you’ll find a host of experts to talk with who can give you great tips and tricks to help you be prepared for all types of emergencies and disasters.
Not into backcountry skiing or riding? Maybe you enjoy cozy nights by the fire with popcorn and a good movie. Are you prepared if the wind starts howling, the snow starts flying and the lights go out? This is your opportunity to learn everything you can so you’ll be ready to face a variety of potential emergencies or disasters that might come your way.
More than 70 exhibitors and food trucks are expected at this year’s event. With the cost of everything going up, this is one event that is still free to the public thanks to support from the Mat-Su Borough Emergency Services, AARP Alaska, Local Emergency Planning Committee, American Red Cross, Alaska Safe Riders, Mat-Su Health Foundation, the Mat-Valley Federal Credit Union, McDonalds and more. The first 200 attendees will receive an emergency gift bag. And for everyone else, there will be lots of opportunities to earn prizes, participate in interactive demonstrations, gain knowledge and get needed supplies.
Now is the time to get ready. Winter is coming. Prepare your family. Prepare your pets. Prepare your community. Mark your calendar for Saturday, September 30 from 10 am to 3 pm and head to the Menard Sports Center to get prepared to confront any terror that might come our way.
Learn more at https://ready.matsugov.us