Alaska winter readiness guide: Tips for preparing your home, vehicle and self

This article was originally posted at ADN here by Laurel Andrews.

Winter weather is settling in over Alaska. Are you ready? Here are tips for preparing your home and vehicle, and taking care of yourself during the winter months.


Protect water lines from freezing. Disconnect water hoses from the outside of your house and make sure outdoor water spigots are closed. Make sure you know where the shutoff valves are in your house, so if pipes break, you can turn the water off.


Winterize your home. Check for drafts around water and heating lines, and insulate if you need to. Make sure windows are well sealed. Now is the time to patch up any leaks and replace shingles or metal fasteners on your roof. Clean the gutters so spring runoff moves away from your home unobstructed.


(More information on home energy efficiency can be found online at Cold Climate Housing Research Center and Alaska Housing Finance Corp. Check out this interactive Northern homes page for more tips. Also, some Alaskans may qualify for AHFC’s free weatherization program.)


Have maintenance and inspections done on your heating sources, like furnace and wood stove. Stock up on wood or other fuel.


Along with working smoke alarms, make sure carbon monoxide detectors are installed and have working batteries. Carbon monoxide is odorless and fatal and was responsible for the deaths of at least two Alaskans in the past few months in both Southcentral and the Interior.

The Alaska Department of Homeland Security recommends getting a seven-day emergency kit together for potential disasters, including winter storms that may knock out power.


The kit should include 1 gallon of water per person, per day; food with a long shelf life; flashlights; and first-aid kits. Also recommended are any medications your family needs; a battery-operated radio; a small tool kit, plus items like duct tape and rope; hygiene products, including some bags and a bucket for managing human waste; a heat source that’s safe for indoor use; cellphone chargers; emergency blankets; a whistle and signal mirror; and a generator.


The agency also recommends having an emergency go-bag, which you can grab should you need to leave your home in a hurry. One thing that’s often overlooked? Critical documents, such as birth certificates and insurance information. Having these on hand will speed up your recovery time, should you need to file claims after a disaster.


Lastly, make a plan with your family on what to do in case of an emergency, and afterward.

WACO Sponsored, Newsletter, July thru Sept 2017, edition 03

CERT Happenings

4th of July

This was the 3rd year that Willow CERT worked to promote safety at the Willow Independence Day Parade. Just prior to the parade, CERT members reviewed the WACO parade safety guidelines with participants.  CERT members walked the route assessing the for hazards and facilitating at road crossings.  Submitted by Brenda McCainCERT in Cordova

Willow CERT trains in Cordova

Willow CERT had the opportunity to assist the Cordova CERT with some basic CERT training classes s well as participate in a tsuanmi “RACE the Wave” teaching kids how to build a grab and go bag for emergencies. What an awesome opportunity for building relationships with other CERT teams in Alaska.

Members Spotlight

By Kathy Watkins

Let me introduce you to Norm Wakeman a valued member of the Willow CERT team. Norm was born and raised in Claremont, NH and graduated from Stevens High School; and later graduated from Keene State College where he e enjoyed being part of the ski team, lacrosse and soccer teams. Norm went on to teach Industrial Arts at Woodstock Union High School and was the ski coach there. When Norm left teaching to work for the USDA Soil Conservation services, now known as the National Resources Conservation Service where he returned to Claremont. In the early days, his job consisted of surveying then moved into the management side with more office work. His final position was with the New England Water Resources Dept. Norm took an early retirement to work as a consultant in survey design and the supervision of construction. In Norm’s free time, he worked with the Outward Bound program with Stevens High School for 20 years. (The Outward Bound program is the premier provider of experience-based outdoor Norm Wakemanleadership programs for youth and adults). Norm also spent 30 years with the US Army Reserves and taught Hunter Education for the State of New Hampshire for 25 years. Norm served several years on the Claremont Conservation Commission and Historical District Commission. We are so glad that Norm chose Willow Alaska to call home. He is a sure asset to our team.

Sutton Safety Fair

4 members of our Willow CERT team assisted the Matsu borough in promoting the CERT program at the Sutton Safety Fair in July. Thank you to Mark, Margot, Paul and John for their time and commitment to the program.


Talkeetna Community Picnic

Mark Allan, Heather Ridge and Kathy Watkins had the opportunity to share CERT at the annual Talkeetna Community picnic on Sat. Aug 12thGreat connections were made.


MatSu Emergency Preparedness Expo

Sept found the Willow CERT team actively engaged as part of the preparedness expo. The opportunity to demonstrate to the public skills we learn as part of the 20 hour training program.

CERT demonstrated the process of cribbing and leveraging and a few proper ways to remove trapped victims. With the happenings around the US and Mexico with the hurricanes and earthquakes, this was a most timely demonstration. In addition Willow CERT provided tools for kids on how to build their own “grab and go bags” with a list of items to include. A raffle of two “kid specific” grab and go bags was raffled off.

Willow CERT receives FEMA recognition for Outstanding Citizen Corps Partner Program.  Congratulations to our team for all their dedication hard work and belief in what the CERT program stands for.


Wed Oct 10th Field Trip to Pyrah’s U-pick Farm (LDS warehouse for emergency food)

Sat Oct 21st SuValley Health Fair

Sat Oct 28th CERT mtg location tbd

Oct 31st Trunk or Treat

Nov 11th, 12th, 18th and 19th CERT basic training

Dec ?? Christmas Party day & location tbdcropped-willowcert-team-at-2015-july-4-parade1.jpg


Beginning in Oct. Willow CERT meetings are being changed to Saturdays from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm. Actual dates and locations will be determined on a month-to-month basis.

Thanks to Sunshine Community Health Center for their generous donation of “expired” fist aid supplies for our training exercise in Nov. Your support of the CERT program is greatly appreciated.

Red Cross Seeking Volunteers for Houston, Texas Disaster

Sharing an email from the Red Cross requesting assistance from HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS currently licensed for possible deployment to Texas.

“Below is the information about direct deployment opportunities for non-Red Cross health professionals.

I hope you will share this with in as many places as possible…. social media, professional organizations, your local health department, health coalitions, hospitals, etc.”

Health and mental health professionals for are needed to deploy for Hurricane Harvey. Please share this link with your members and networks:…/hurricane-harvey-health-professio…

WillowCERT SAR Training

On Thursday June 22nd Willow CERT members participated in a practice search and rescue at the Willow community center. The team practiced radio communications, team structure and establishing an Incident Command. The practice involved searching for a 3 year old lost child. The team was successful in following the clues and finding the little girl who turned out to be a box with her face and name on it. Great job guys; we learned where our strengths and weaknesses are. Thanks to all who participated.

SuValley Fire Safe/Fire Smart Conference

Please join us at the Willow Community Center from 10 to 12, Saturday, May 6, 2017 for this important fire safety conference.  Learn more about being fire safe and fire smart. Meet with local experts to ask questions and be informed. Pick up a smoke detector.  What more you can do to keep your family, pets and home safe?  Refreshments provided and a drawing for door prizes at 11:30.  For more info: contact  Sponsored by Willow CERT, NFPA and State Farm.