Hurricanes have devastated the Caribbean, Midwest and Southern states while a 7.1 earthquake rocked Mexico. There is also the added factor of a possible war, as the U.S. and North Korea take aim at each other with possible bombing threats. It seems disaster season has been declared and the one glaring question that should be on everyone’s mind is: Are you prepared for a disaster?
According to www.ready.gov, the first step in surviving anything from a major natural disaster to a terrorist attack is to have a plan. So here are some general plans to have in place in case of a disaster. First, create a plan with your family, friends, or household:
*How will I receive emergency alerts and warnings?
*What is my shelter plan?
*What is my evacuation route?
*What is my family/household communication plan?
Next is to think about the specific needs within your household or circle. You must think about the specific daily living needs and responsibilities of everyone involved. Functions such as care of children, business, pets, or specific needs like the operation of durable medical equipment should be assigned. Some things to keep in mind when creating your plan:
*Different ages of members within your household
*Responsibilities for assisting others
*Medical needs including prescriptions and equipment
*Disabilities or access and functional needs including devices and equipment
*Cultural and religious considerations
*Pets or service animals
*Households with school-aged children
It’s important to get your plan on paper and discuss with your family, friends or circle. The next step would be to make sure everyone is clear on the roles and parts they play within the plan. Lastly, make sure you practice your plan. Check for instructions, warnings and guidelines on mobile devices or by radio on how to proceed in the event of a disaster and follow instructions that could save the lives of you and your loved ones.
Since we live in “Earthquake Country” here in California, here is some information from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) about being prepared for an earthquake:
*Check to make sure your electrical, gas and basic utilities are functioning properly. Seek professional help in checking these connections
*Secure major appliances like your refrigerator, water heater and all the other gas appliances. It is also suggested that if requested, get a gas shutoff valve
*Secure cabinets, shelves, large frames on walls; put heavy objects in lower places
*Breakable items such as china and glass objects should be in fastened cabinets
*Make sure your residence is anchored to the foundation
*Find safe spots within your residence like a sturdy wall or table
*Earthquake drills are necessary and should be done
If you are indoors, take cover under a table, desk, against a wall or in a secure doorway and hold on. If you are unable to take cover, crouch in a corner protecting your face and head. Stay away from broken glass, and anything that could fall and injure you. It’s safer to wait until shaking stops before going outside and don’t use the elevators.
When outside, stay outside and avoid buildings, power lines and wires. Be careful of falling debris.
If in a car, pull over safely and wait in the vehicle. When stopping your vehicle, make sure you are not under any kind of structures, trees, streetlights or overpasses. Once shaking has stopped, proceed with caution using defensive driving skills.
If you should become trapped under debris, don’t light a match or stir any dust. Be sure to cover your mouth and nose with a cloth or your clothes. Tap on pipes or the ground, or even whistle to draw the attention of people; shouting is suggested as a last resort because you could inhale dangerous debris.
Always make sure to keep a flashlight near your bed along with a pair of tennis shoes. Prepare an earthquake kit filled with your personal medications and medical aid. Keep bottled water and nonperishable foods and snacks in case you are unable to cook, purchase or receive food for a period.
Be ready for aftershocks, be careful when opening cases and cabinets in your residence, and stay away from severely damaged areas. Be sure to listen to local fire, police and relief organization instructions. If you live on the coast, be aware of possible tsunami alerts.
More info can be found at the FEMA website at http://www.fema.gov/areyouready/earthquakes.shtm