Planning for an emergency…Week No. 5

How are your emergency preparedness activities progressing? Hopefully, your preliminary efforts have turned into some positive momentum. As we mentioned last week, adopting the strategy necessary to prepare for a disaster is a culture change for most of us. Making a change is not always easy. But frequently the changes we make are productive and good for us.This week we have some simple objectives. We need to do some evacuation planning around our homes. We also need to identify some safe places to go in case of an emergency. Finally, we have a list of items to obtain and add to our emergency supply cache. Let's focus on the evacuation plan first. Pull out a piece of paper and draw a floor plan of your home. It would be best if you had your family do this together. Start by drawing the rooms and hallways. Add the doors and windows once the walls are drawn in. If you live in a condominium or apartment, you can do this too. Once the details of the floor plans are included, begin to consider how you would exit each room and/or area of your home if one of the exits were blocked. For example, talk to your family and ask them how they would leave if the front door were jammed after an earthquake. Continue this "what if" session until you address each area of your home. Keep in mind you may need to leave a room on the second floor. What about outside stairways? Can you climb out of a second floor window onto the roof? Next, practice an evacuation drill with your family members. At first, work from one room at a time and talk everyone through it. Ultimately you can have an un-announced drill and consider doing the drill at night. Be sure you establish some outside meeting places for your family too. Usually, families meet in front of the house. The important point is to be sure everyone knows where they should go during and after an emergency. While on the subject, do your family members know where to go during a disaster? If there is a fire, get out. What about during an earthquake? Duck, cover and hold on, right? Be sure you pre-plan where you can hunker down in the safe places in each room. Be sure you are away from big objects that can fall and from glass that can shatter. Try to find tables or desks to crawl under or substantial objects that can protect you. Finally, remember to practice quickly getting into the protective space. Let's obtain the following items to bolster our supply cache: - one gallon of water per person (this completes the minimum water storage recommendation) - 1 can of meat per person - 1 can of fruit per person - 1 can of vegetables per person - 2 rolls of toilet paper per person - 1 extra toothbrush per person - 1 travel size toothpaste per person - any special food or diet supplements needed to sustain your health Remember, when you are buying supplies, buy a variety of things and not necessarily the most bland stuff. Immediately after a disaster, you may find yourself with a lot on your mind, a tasty can of fruit at room temperature may be your only treat for the day. Cooking may be a luxury so think about foods that will taste fine without being cooled or heated. Tomorrow is the Downey Street Fair. Please be sure to drop by the Emergency Preparedness booth at space #80. We would love to visit with you. We will have some informative brochures, a few display items and some items to give away. We will also have some sample water storage containers we would like to show you. If you cannot see us at the Street Fair, feel free to contact me at ready@downeyca.org. Mark Sauter is deputy city manager in charge of emergency preparedness for the city of Downey.

********** Published: April 30, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 2