Disaster Preparedness: Are you Ready?
Now is not the time to ignore the possibilities of a natural disaster. There never really is a time to do that. Instead, look at your surroundings, figure out what could happen and prepare. I will use earthquakes for this, as that is where I have the most experience. They are a common problem in Southern California.
A lot of people thought I was nuts when we first moved to California. I got hold of as many books about earthquakes, what causes them, what to expect and so on. Then, I actually put the information into practice.
While Northridge was not the first earthquake we experienced, it was by far the biggest I’ve been through. I can also tell you that all the teasing stopped almost as soon as the ground stopped shaking that first time.
I was glad for our preparations, but I can tell you we also made a few mistakes. Here are a list of the preps we made and the ones we’ve made since.
You need at least one, and preferably more. You should have a main one for the house, then smaller ones for each vehicle. If your child’s school doesn’t require one, ask them why and send one, anyway.
For the mobile kits, you’ll want water, first aid stuff and food in that order. If you tend to drive to work in clothing you can’t walk home in comfortably, at least add a pair of sock and tennis shoes. Large earthquakes tend to knock down buildings, bridges and electric lines that you may not be able to drive across.
For your home kit, you’ll need all of those and considerably more. One gallon of water per person per day is the minimum, and more if you have pets. Food for everyone, any medications and if you can, a spare pair of glasses for those who require them.
First aid could end up being the only aid for days, so adjust your kit accordingly. If you’re the only one in the neighborhood who has one, you may be doling out a lot of bandages.
Sanitation won’t be working. The garbage trucks won’t be running, and neither will those nice, indoor toilets. Camping stores and those who deal in survival gear may have a useful setup, but if necessary all you need are trash bags and some fairly large buckets.
Cooking equipment is not as critical, unless all you have is canned food. You will, at that point, at least need a manual can opener. Picnic supplies, lightweight pots and so on can make a big difference. So can a camp stove.
Before using anything that involves fire or a risk of a spark, check your gas main. Only shut it off if you smell gas, as you’ll have to wait until the gas company gets to your house before it can be turned on. You may also want to check the mains of the people around you, if they are unable to do it themselves.
Turn off the water to your home the instant you can. Water coming into your home could be contaminated, but what’s already there is not. You may be asking what water I’m talking about, but that’s next on your list of things to do.
Strap your water heater to studs in your garage or heater closet. You’ll want at least two bands to hold it safely. That water is clean and potable.
Of the things we didn’t consider were tools. All around us, cinder block walls had fallen and other large debris needed moved. Shovels, picks and so on could actually save someone’s life if they are trapped under the rubble.
We also didn’t consider entertainment. Our children were little, and after the first bit of excitement wore off, they had nothing to do. There was no electricity, they couldn’t go in and get their toys and so on. Adding something to amuse them to your kit is a good idea. While you’re at it, add stuff for all the grownups, too.
You’ll want to carefully consider where you store this kit. Our first kit was stored outside in a clearly marked trash can proclaiming it as our kit. About a year later I checked it and found that someone had stolen most of it.
My next bright idea was to keep everything inside. Unfortunately, there wasn’t space for the entire thing, so I had my equipment spread throughout the house. That was a really bad idea. Now, we have a travel trailer and I find it makes a wonderful earthquake storage kit.
Check this Important Article: What to do and not to do during and after a quake