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Let’s Get ‘Maui Ready!’ (Guest Editorial)

September is National Preparedness Month.

September 19, 2013
Rachel A. Heckscher (Guest Editor) - Coordinator of the Department of Health’s Maui County Health Volunteers ( , Maui Weekly

It is a time to prepare ourselves and those in our care for emergencies and disasters. Let's get "Maui Ready!"

We all know that emergencies can happen unexpectedly in communities like ours--to people like us. In the news, we see flash floods, earthquakes, tsunamis and power outages that affect entire communities. Our own island chain is profoundly isolated and vulnerable to devastating hurricanes. Our food and power supplies are vulnerable to weather, accidents and manmade disasters. As such, Maui people have to go the extra mile to be prepared for emergencies.

Maui Ready is a Website ( that pulls together numerous resources to help you with the four pillars of preparedness: Stay Informed; Make a Plan; Build a Kit and Get Involved. It's an evolving process, this preparedness thing. Pick one of the pillars and get started.

Article Photos

Guest Editorial
Rachel A. Heckscher
Coordinator of the Department of Health’s Maui County Health Volunteers

Stay Informed: Access to learn what to do before, during and after an emergency. Download apps to your cell phone to alert you of emergency information. And keep a radio handy to tune in when you hear the warning sirens.

Make a Plan: Discuss, agree on and document an emergency plan with those in your care. Decide how to keep in touch if you are apart when a disaster hits. Learn how to send text messages, as these will often go through even when phone lines are jammed. Work together with neighbors, colleagues and others to support each other.

Build a Kit: Keep enough emergency supplies--water, nonperishable food, first aid, prescriptions, flashlight and battery-powered radio on-hand-- for you and those in your care.

Get Involved: There are many ways to get involved especially before a disaster occurs. The whole community can participate in programs and activities to make their families, homes and places of worship safer from risks and threats. The key to ensuring a safer Maui consists of volunteers, a trained and informed public and increased support of emergency response agencies during disasters. Keep your eyes open for trainings, such as the excellent CERT program (Community Emergency Response Teams), that will boost your confidence and motivation to get ready for disaster.

Businesses, pet owners, people with disabilities and people on a tight budget all have extra concerns when it comes to preparedness. Take some extra time to figure out how to prepare yourself to shelter in place (which means staying where you are until a danger subsides) or evacuate to an emergency shelter. Make an emergency kit for your pet with extra food and pet medicines to grab if you need to leave the house in a hurry. Get an appropriate, secure pet carrier. If you are on a budget, look at yard sales and thrift stores to get items for your emergency kits. Check out for tips on hardening your business against damage.

A resilient community will recover faster and better from a disaster, and resilience requires preparedness. We can all do our part by getting ourselves prepared and getting Maui Ready.

Rachel Heckscher, MPH, can be reached at (808) 243-8649 or



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