This article was written for Connect Magazine – CAI Inland Empire
A sharp jolt shakes up the house, a coffee mug spills over the table, while a wall mirror falls onto the ground and shatters into a million pieces. Being in an earthquake can be frightening, especially because it is impossible to predict what will happen to us, our house, and our community. With the different tectonic plates constantly flirting with each other and the San Andreas fault causing a continuing danger for our neighborhoods, California is a high-risk earthquake zone. With this knowledge, it is essential to be prepared for when an earthquake strikes. Here are five things to help you prepare today.
- Build a Kit
Start by gathering imperative supplies for an emergency kit and store it in a safe place that is easily accessible. Prepare on being self-sufficient for at least ten days. The following list contains several necessities that can help you and your loved ones survive after a natural disaster like an earthquake strikes.
o Family and Emergency contact information
o Copies of Identification
o Water (1 gallon a person, per day)
o Non-perishable food
o Manual can opener
o Medication and medical equipment
o First aid kit
o Personal hygiene items
o Toilet paper
o Sturdy shoes
o Work gloves
o Warm and dry clothes
o Blankets and towels
o Battery-operated radio
o Battery-operated flashlight
o Extra batteries
o Cell phone with charger
o Fully charged portable charger
o Multi-purpose tool
o Fire extinguisher
o Cash (small bills)
o Map of the area
o Extra set of car keys and house key
o Two-way radios
o Pet supplies
- Prepare the House
There are many stories about people who got injured by furniture or loose objects during a powerful earthquake, which is why it is of great importance to scout the house for potential hazards. Where possible, attach furniture to the walls and make sure there are no large objects that can cause injuries above a bed. It is also recommended to always have a pair of shoes nearby in every room, since broken windows and objects might be shattered all over the floor. Also, imagine what the easiest and most accessible storage place is for the emergency kit, it will be needed.
- Have a Plan
Once everything is set in place when it comes to earthquake preparedness, ask yourself: “Do I have a plan?” Most of us have been taught to ‘duck, cover, hold on, and evacuate’, but there are often only a few seconds to make an executive decision. Scout all rooms of the house for potentially safe cover places and discuss them with your family. If there is more people in your household, also plan when to regroup, how to communicate, and what the designated meeting area will be. Your community association might provide a designated meeting area and directions in case of an earthquake as well. Be aware of emergency plans in your neighborhood, this could possibly strengthen your family’s earthquake plan.
- Enhance Your Skills
Some basic skills can be of great help or even lifesaving during an emergency situation. First, be aware of where utility controls are located in and around the house, and how to operate the controls to shut everything off. Water can be scarce for a while and gas can be extremely dangerous after an earthquake, potentially causing explosions and fires. A second skill to enhance would be fire suppression. If a small fire breaks out, know where the fire extinguisher is located and how to immediately react to put the fire out. Last, but not least, it can be crucial to gain basic knowledge about first aid. Enhancing this skill could help you, your family, and your community pull through a natural disaster.
- Keep It Safe
While gearing up for a potential natural disaster in California, it is important to prepare for life after an earthquake as well. Store all important documents protected in a fireproof and water resistant safe. This will help everybody get their lives back in order much quicker. The following list contains examples of what to store safely protected.
o Birth certificates
o Medical record (allergies, medication)
o Family and Emergency contact information
o Insurance policies
o Phone numbers of all utility companies
o Phone number property manager
o Ownership certificates (automobile, boat)
o Bank records and phone numbers
o Household inventory
o Photographs of high value items
o External hard drive (photos, documents)
Hopefully, these five actions help us prepare for when an earthquake strikes. Gather supplies, eliminate potential hazards in the house, build a plan, communicate with family and community members, enhance crucial skills, and keep all your important documents safe. There is no way to predict what is coming – but we can be prepared.