Weather and nature are often the big stories. Just as we ended a long weekend which saw thousands of people from throughout San Diego county having so much fun in the Laguna Mountains, disaster struck at the other side of the planet. In Christchurch, New Zealand, people kept vigils outside buildings hoping loved ones would emerge. At least 145 did not, and many are still unaccounted for five days after the .
Now, seismologists and geologists around California are answering the question: could such a disaster happen here? Several are quoted in an article in The San Diego Union Tribune. People who answered the question generally agreed that the San Diego area could indeed suffer similar damage from a quake of similar magnitude because there are still plenty of unretrofitted buildings around. In Christchurch, even retrofitted buildings were damaged.
San Diegans are no strangers to the idea of emergency plans. Once in a while, however, it pays for us all to be reminded that we need to be prepared. Maybe we can use this as a time to check the date on batteries and make sure we have replaced any stored water supplies if we've borrowed from them. Here's a list of items and ideas for disaster preparedness, gleaned from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and CalFire.
BEFORE A POSSIBLE DISASTER:
Plan: Discuss a route out of the house and a place nearby to meet. If you have young children, put a drawing of the exit plan at eye level in their rooms. Discuss how you will contact each other if you aren't together.
Protect belongings: Consider flood insurance if it might be needed. Inventory and photograph belongings. Keep emergency money in a separate account. Keep vital records in a safe place, in such a fashion that you can quickly access them to take with you if needed.
People with special needs: Make sure there is an adequate supply of any special food, medications or equipment packed and ready to go in the event of an emergency.
Animals: Know where the local shelter locations might be. Large animals should be familiarized with trailers and transportation before a disaster. Familiarize yourself with primary and secondary evacuation routes. Make sure destinations have water, food, veterinarian services and handling equipment.
Safety: It's helpful to learn first aid and CPR, as well as how to use a . Remember that the FEMA inspired local CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) programs offer training.
DURING A DISASTER:
Utilities: During a disaster, you may be advised to shut off gas lines. It's recommended that residents get instruction on this from their local utility company before trying it and that every household member watches or learns. If you smell a gas leak or hear hissing, get out of the house. Sparking electrical wires can ignite gas. Show all household members where the electrical circuit box is and how to shut off electricity.
Water: Cracked lines may pollute the supply to your house. It's recommended that you shut off the valve until you hear from authorities that the water is safe for drinking.
* At least one gallon of water per person per day. A three-day supply is recommended.
* Food. Choose food that doesn't make you thirsty. Salt-free crackers and cereal are recommended, plus canned food with lots of liquid content. A three-day supply is recommended.
* Battery operated radio or TV, plus batteries.
* Flashlight, plus batteries.
* First aid kit and manual.
* Sanitary supplies, such as toilet paper.
* Matches and waterproof container.
* Cooking utensils.
* Extra clothing, especially warm clothing for colder areas.
* Cash, including coins.
* Sleeping bags and extra blankets.
* Photocopies of credit cards and identification.