April is Earthquake Preparedness Month (or “Disaster Preparedness Month” in the state of Washington). Are you ready for the unexpected?
In observance of April’s Earthquake Preparedness Month, County Officies of Emergency Management (OEMs) across the country are urging citizens to take simple steps to prepare for earthquakes, floods, man-made disasters and other emergencies.
“We can’t stop disasters from happening, but we can prepare to survive them,” says King County (WA) OEM Director Hillman Mitchell. “Now is a perfect time to think about what you would do if a large disaster were to strike our region.”
Disaster planning consists of three simple steps:
1. Make a Plan
Every family should have a plan for how they will communicate during an emergency and where they will meet if separated.
· Establish an out-of-area contact. This should be someone out-of-state that each family member can contact to communicate their well-being.
· Texting will often work, even if phone calls can’t go through.
· If cell towers are down, landline calls may work.
· Long-distance calls often go through when local calls don’t.
· Establish a meeting place near your home where family members will go if it’s not safe to stay in your house or apartment.
2. Build a Kit
Having basic emergency supplies on hand will not only keep you alive, but more comfortable during the first few days of a disaster. A minimum three-day supply of the following items is recommended:
· Ready-to-eat food
· Water (1 gallon per day, per person)
· Medications and personal hygiene items
You’ll also want to pack:
· Radio (battery-powered or hand-crank style)
· Extra batteries
· Sturdy shoes and warm clothing
· Dust mask
Putting these items together in one place will ensure you will have what you need, quickly. You should have emergency kits for your home, vehicle and work or school.
A complete emergency kit checklist can be downloaded at www.3days3ways.org or www.takewinterbystorm.org (translated in multiple languages).
3. Get involved
Resilient communities don’t just happen; they are built by individuals working together.
Get to know your neighbors. A trusted friend next door can keep an eye on your property, your kids and pets if an emergency keeps you from getting home.
Volunteer to serve on your local Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). CERT groups receive training and resources to help address immediate needs, until emergency personnel are able to respond.
Learn CPR and basic first aid – it can make the difference between life and death for someone close to you.
There are a number of additional ways you can prepare for emergencies that are free and require little effort:
Tune in to TV and radio stations during an emergency (if a power outage occurs, you’ll be glad you have a battery-powered radio and batteries on hand).
Register for emergency alerts
Most cities have an automated public alert system that can quickly notify residents to evacuate, stay in place, or take specific actions. Contact your local Office of Emergency Management to register. Another useful resource is the Emergency Disaster Information Service (EDIS) which has maps and information about disasters and earthquake activity in real-time. Click the following link to check out the Disaster Map of North America.
Here is the link to the EDIS home page for those in other parts of the world.
If your community experiences an earthquake, or any disaster, register on the American Red Cross Safe and Well Web site available through RedCross.org to let your family and friends know about your welfare.
If you don’t have Internet access, call: 1-866-GET-INFO. For more information on disaster and emergency preparedness, visit RedCross.org.