Planning for an emergency - Week 3

Did you feel the ground move on Easter Sunday? Although the earthquake was centered a long way from Downey, things still swayed and moved here. I noticed a couple of items had fallen from my office shelf when I arrived that Monday morning.The experts are predicting the next major earthquake will be centered in the southern desert area of California (not that far from the epicenter of Sunday's quake). They predict the waves of energy will then radiate up the San Andreas Fault into our area, in a similar manner as our most recent event. The experts say we won't always be as lucky as we were on Easter; they say the chance of a disastrous earthquake occurring in our area within the next 30 years is very high. If the next big earthquake strikes along the southern San Andreas Fault line, it will likely have a major impact on the East-West supply lines we depend on. Everyday we use water, natural gas and electrical power delivered across the San Andreas Fault. Experts predict it could take a week before the infrastructure lines are repaired and supplying vital resources to our area after a major earthquake in the southern desert area. This week's objectives for our on-going emergency preparedness efforts will remain consistent. Each week we need to increase our understanding of our local disaster risks, expand our planning efforts and obtain more supplies. When we consider our local disaster risks, we should be thinking about all of those events that could disrupt our lives. For example, the earthquake last Sunday is an obvious risk. However, the not so obvious issues such as traffic accidents and power failures can also cause problems for us. In just the last two weeks there have been local examples of these two calamities in our area as well. When the power goes down, we may have problems with our own homes. It could be the power-dependent health equipment that is necessary to maintain a person's air-supply or the refrigerator storing the family food supply. Power interruptions also cause problems with traffic lights and other safety equipment we rely upon. Do you know the 'rules of the road' when the traffic lights are inoperable? Do your loved ones know another route to school or work when the nearby intersection is closed due to a serious accident? Do your home smoke detectors work without electricity? Most smoke detectors have a battery back-up option. Planning….Can you communicate the local situation to your co-workers or family members? Can you use a cell phone or send a text message without relying on a teenager for assistance? Could you warn them about a dangerous situation like a hazardous materials spill near your home? Is there a predetermined, out-of-state number your family members could call to check-in and report their location and condition? Power interruptions and traffic accidents unfortunately occur in our city. The important thing to remember is preparing for emergencies will always benefit our families and our workplaces. How about our local support network? Work with your neighbors to establish some expectations on what will be done if one family is home and the other is away. Develop the trust necessary to count on your neighbor to check on your house after a problem. Do you have contact numbers (landline and cell) for your neighbors? Consider working with your neighbors and making a commitment to check on each others family members as well. How about the senior citizen who lives down the street? Can you help them during an emergency? Perhaps they can help you with a child care issue in a pinch or maybe they can be the eyes of the neighborhood while most of your neighborhood is away at work. Supplies….Obtain the following: - additional gallon of water for each family member. After this week you should now have two (2) gallons of water stored for each family member. Water (or a lack of it) is the number one problem after an emergency. - one can of meat per family member. Each family member should now have two cans of meat in storage. Keep in mind, there are lots of options for meats. Emergency supplies do not have to be tasteless or bland. Consider buying foods that you can use in a couple months and replace later. - one can of fruit per person. Again, consider a variety of fruits. - personal hygiene items. If you need it to make it thruogh a day, then have enough for an extra week in a kit. With most supplies now sold in bulk, this item is almost forced upon us. Just don't wait until you have exhausted all of your supplies before re-filling. -map of the area. These are readily available from the internet or other local sources. Good information for evacuations and for finding certain spots in the city if points of distribution are established. For example, had the flu vaccinations last fall been offered at a city park, would you and your family be able to find the specific park? Finally, please be sure you have met the first two weeks emergency preparedness objectives. If not, start working towards meeting those objectives. Any questions or comments? Please send them to Mark Sauter is deputy city manager in charge of emergency preparedness for the city of Downey.

********** Published: April 16, 2010 - Volume 8 - Issue 52