Planning for an emergency…Week 12

Finally, a summer weekend is here. It's a great time to celebrate our freedoms and good fortune. The weekend is also a great way to spend precious time with friends and family. So this week let's keep our emergency preparedness work simple and effective.We have been focusing quite a bit of our efforts on obtaining emergency supplies (lots of food and water). This week, let's obtain some tools and equipment. •adjustable end wrench (also known as a 'crescent wrench') large and small size •pry bar •screw drivers standard and Phillips (AKA + and -) •pliers: large and small •hammer with some nails •hammer or construction type stapler All of the tools noted above can be purchased from a number of retail stores in Downey. They can also be found at yard sales and often in our own garages underneath other stuff. The trick is to know what you have in inventory at your home or business. Having immediate access to your emergency tools and supplies is also critical during and after an emergency. All of the tools can be used for a number of activities. This week we should also obtain a fresh roll of duct tape and plastic sheeting. If you have tried to use duct tape or plastic sheeting that have been exposed to the sun and heat, you know they get gooey and brittle, respectively. Both of these items can be used for weatherproofing our living areas or making emergency repairs. Last January we had an amazing number of emergency calls for service when the rains came. In many cases, some plastic sheeting duct taped in place and secured with staples will remedy a leak before it becomes a problem. We can also use our tools to install straps to hold down our water heaters and tall furniture. For our situational awareness and training this week, let's think about outside fires. We know there is a risk of fires and injuries from fires every time we cook outside. Let's address the fire aspect first. If you or your neighbors decide to barbeque this year, pre-plan your emergency actions. Have a garden hose with a nozzle ready to extinguish any problems that may arise. Be sure the hose is in good repair, is long enough, and has a valve that works. Keep the grill away from vegetation and structures. Fires often occur because barbeques were operated too close to 'combustible exposures'. Remember the used coals are a problem long after the food comes off the grill. The coals can be an ignition source for a fire and/or a respiratory hazard. Carbon monoxide gas can be fatal in relatively small concentrations and is one of the gases released by smoldering charcoal. Let's also remember to keep an eye on our neighbor's properties as well. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have the ability to move and act quickly during an emergency. If injuries occur, be ready with basic first-aid supplies. Look up the best actions for burn injuries and be prepared to apply them immediately if an accident occurs. Many people use propane or natural gas to fuel their barbeque. These fuels can be more controllable. However, care must be used when moving the propane tanks and when igniting the barbeque for use. Remembering to shut-off the fuel once the food is removed from the grill is very important as well. Finally, keep in mind that a family barbeque can be a great tool after an emergency. Barbeques (with an independent supply of fuel) give families the ability to heat food and water safely, outside their home, for several days after a major earthquake when the standard utilities are interrupted. Any questions or comments on this column can be directed to Mark Sauter is deputy city manager for emergency preparedness for the city of Downey.

********** Published: July 8, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 12