The Cannon Beach Academy received a special delivery this month that marks an important step in the school’s effort to be prepared for keeping students safe during an emergency or natural disaster.

Jason Johnson, with Tonquin Trading Company, on Tuesday dropped off several dozen emergency survival kits purchased with funds from a Cannon Beach Community Grant the academy recently received.

“We have to be able to rely on ourselves, because we don’t know what’s going to be available,” Cannon Beach Academy Director Amy Fredrickson said.

Each of the 55 lightweight Go Kits for Kids is designed to help a person survive for 72 hours, or three days, and includes a high-calorie food bar, light stick, hand warmer, emergency blanket, poncho, and packets of drinking water.

The administration will then have parents add pictures, medications, extra clothing and a comforting item to their child’s kit. Each one will also receive a laminated name tag that includes the student’s emergency contact and allergy information.

Having acquired the Go Kits for Kids, the school can now incorporate them into tsunami drills, allowing the students to get used to wearing them while walking to the evacuation site. Another step is figuring out storage, Fredrickson said, or how to keep the packs out of the way for day-to-day operations, yet accessible in the event of an emergency.

From the inside out

Outfitting the school with Go Kits for Kids is another step in building up the entire community and preparing for an emergency, which is Johnson’s specialty.

With a background doing risk mitigation on the oil fields of North Dakota, Johnson’s mission upon arriving in the Pacific Northwest a few years ago was to help the local communities prepare for the most significant natural disaster they face — a Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake and tsunami — “from the inside, out.”

“I don’t think anyone’s prepared to see the devastation we would experience in the current scenario,” Johnson said, adding that when humans go days without water or weeks without food, “You automatically go into survival mode, you don’t have a choice.”

He identified how hiking and outdoor apparel are already designed to be lightweight and durable, which incidentally makes them suitable products to be incorporated into emergency preparedness and resiliency. He then homed in on making those products available to the public, to both enhance their outdoor experiences while hiking and camping and to help them have adequate supplies to cope with the effects of a natural disaster.

He believes Cannon Beach’s efforts to build resiliency provide a good example for other coastal communities to follow. The ongoing process of planning for a natural emergency is also beneficial from a tourism perspective.

“You become the most prepared place on the coast, and suddenly, you become to safest place to visit on the coast,” Johnson said.

Education and preparation

In addition to the Go Kits for Kids, the academy also used the more than $9,000 community grant to enhance its food program and purchase two medical triage kits and items that would be necessary in the event of a lockdown. Additionally, the doors received new locks to keep intruders out.

“It’s assuring to know we have these safeguards,” Business Manager Ananda Osterhaus said. “It’s so important we can keep (students) safe in every way possible.

In the coming weeks, the school will hold meetings with teachers and parents to give them information about the kits and the school’s emergency plan.

“We do need to educate our kids and our families and our teachers,” Fredrickson said. “We need to educate ourselves and make sure we’re prepared and ready to respond.”

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