Saturday, August 31, 2013

Emergency (Earthquake) Preparedness

 I have lived in earthquake country before now, in Los Angeles.  I currently live in Oregon, which is another area that has the potential to see a large quake.  My interest in earthquake preparedness (and by extension, all emergency preparedness) stems from my experiences in the Northridge Earthquake in Los Angeles in 1994.  I was a nanny at the time, and we were without power for a few days.  The experience was made more tolerable because I had camping gear in the trunk of my car - mostly because I lacked another place to store it - but having some bare essentials definitely helped. Because I had a simple camp stove, fuel and an espresso maker, I was able to make coffee for the neighborhood (albeit one cup at a time!).  It was a great learning experience.  For the past couple of weeks, I've had a few earthquake dreams that I will take as warnings.  Are you ready if a large, disruptive quake happened today?

Here's how I look at things - as systems supplementation and systems replacement.  Systems supplementation means that you are adding emergency goods to your regular systems – house, utilities, etc.  Replacement means you are relying on alternatives – like wood stoves for heat, your garden for all your food etc. The systems I’m talking about are light, heat, food, cooking, water, security, sanitation, health, cooling etc.   Most people aren't hard core survivalists who want to live off the grid, eat wild food and use composting toilets.  Some people are - and I know some of them - but I am not, and neither are most people, so that is whom my post is addressed to today.  I'm a single mom with a child with special needs and my resources are limited - so I have learned to be prepared on very little.  I'd like to share that with you.

Start by taking inventory of what you already have - do you have flashlights, extra batteries, pet food, basic camping gear?  Do you have a basic car kit - jumper cables, coolant/antifreeze/oil, blankets, non-perishable snacks?  If so, then move on from there.

Here's my suggestion for a Bare Minimum supply list.  Adjust it to fit your own needs.  Remember, you could be entirely on your own for days or even weeks. (If you really want to freak yourself out and look at the worst case scenario, read up on the Carrington Event of 1859 and wonder what would happen today -; a good book on this would be "One Second After" by William Forschten and Newt Gingrich - think the .gov doesn't know this is a potentiality?  It does.).  So, CYA folks, you are on your own.

Bare Minimum Emergency Supplies – everyone should have AT LEAST this stored somewhere safe and protected.

Flashlight with extra batteries (one per person), small battery camping lanterns with extra batteries, appropriate clothing for the season, 1 month of non-perishable foods minimum, matches and lighters, camp stove and fuel, pet food, hand sanitizer, weapons/friends/neighbors/family, water containers – 3 gallons per person, a quality bucket, plain no scent added bleach and a dropper, knowledge of nearest water source and plans to get there and transport water safely, OTC and prescription medications, basic first aid supplies, laundry soap/line/clothes pins, radio with extra batteries.  

Basically, the idea is that you should be able to take care of yourself for a couple of weeks without emergency services, or be in a position to allow those less fortunate (or less planful or aware) than you to have access to the first influx of assistance after a disaster.  Build your safety net.  It had never crossed my mind that I could be in a disaster zone, but it turned out to be less of a disaster because we were somewhat prepared – we had a full pantry, water, my camping gear and lived in a good neighborhood that pulled together to make sure everyone was okay.

I will also post a much more detailed list, but please try to acquire at least those basic supplies outlined above, especially if you live on the West Coast – Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oregon etc – anywhere on the Pacific Rim where earthquakes are common.  And if you are reading this from outside the USA, especially if you are from Japan, then you KNOW how important some general preparedness can be.  Please take steps today to put up some basic goods. 

Thank you and good luck!