Last night a little after 9:00 pm, there was a rolling reminder that living in California means I live in Earthquake Country.
It was one of those kind of quakes that was long and rolling. Not a jolt at all. It was enough to wake up the doggies (no, they did not warn us in advance!) and make Mrs. RVFTLC say a nice "Oh oh!"
I just sat in my recliner realizing it was not going to be much larger.
As it turned out, it was originally graded a 5.4 quake. About a half-hour later it was downgraded to a 5.1. And it did cause some damage and there were a lot of aftershocks. Most importantly, no one was killed.
But it is a stark reminder that pretty much the whole West coast of the United States, Canada and especially Alaska is part of the Pacific Ring Of Fire in which earthquakes and volcanoes are a regular part of life.
The fact is that at some point, possibly in my life time, there will be a severe and major earthquake that will hit in the Los Angeles area. It will be more than likely catastrophic. It will be the worst natural disaster to hit the United States. It could happen in San Diego. Or San Francisco. Possibly Portland, Oregon. A real doozy would be if it happened in or near Seattle.
But while there will be widespread carnage, mayhem, buildings collapsed, fires beyond control, water main breaks, gas lines exploded, and many dead and injured, many more will survive.
It is how we survive and what we can and should do to be prepared that I want to write about here.
While I will be emphasising earthquakes, much of this can be for any event such as a hurricane, tornado or any other natural and even non-natural calamity.
The most important thing to do is to always be familiar with your surroundings. A big quake could happen while you are at work or possibly at a sporting event whether at an indoor arena or outdoor stadium. But the overwhelming chances are that it will happen while you are at home.
So let's start with what to do for home preparedness.
This is very important but make sure that you know where your gas line is and turn it off immediately. Do the same for your water. If you are an apartment dweller, make sure that everyone knows where all of that important stuff is.
Since this is based on you and loved ones being at your abode, make sure all are accounted for and all right. Same thing for your pets. That is why it is preferable to keep your pets indoors.
Once you have done that, more than likely your power will be out. Again, we are talking WCS-worst case scenario. If it is at night, it is imperative to make sure to have both a big supply of candles and working flashlights. While you will have done steps one and two, now you must check to see if there is any structural damage. More than likely, you will have cracks in the walls at the very least. But your home could be off the foundation and that means get the hell out of Dodge. It is very much unsafe at that point. If you do an quick but thorough assessment and all is relatively OK, here is step four.
Find your Earthquake (or other disaster) Survival Kit.
It is very important to have your kit, or kits and I will explain kits in a bit, in an easily accessible place. You will need it or them quickly after disaster strikes.
So you ask, what do I need in my kit(s)? How long should I prepare for having no power, phone or gas services?
Here is what I recommend.
While this website does recommend to have food, supplies and water for at least 72 hours, I recommend at least one week. If you think that is too long, may I point out the disaster that was Hurricane Katrina? You are dealing with a WCS. All the government services will be stretched as soon as disaster strikes.
And I think that while there are excellent kits available at retailers and online, it is better to build your own kit.
So the Federal Emergency and Management Agency recommends to have at least these in your kit. I think that most of what is listed is all good to have. But some of it should be separated out.
I really recommend that you should have a separate pet kit. We have two dogs and both are healthy. But I think that if you have both people and dog emergency stuff in one bag, it creates more work than necessary. This is very helpful information provided by the ASPCA. The most important thing that is not on their list but the most obvious is food and water. Try to have a week's supply of their regular dog food and water, probably err on the side of more water and even food if necessary. They will be nervous because they will not be in their usual routine and dogs especially are creatures of habit.
So, what about that people kit? What about food and water for us? And what about our medications?
Let's start with the medicine first. Try to get your doctor and insurance company to provide at least an extra week's worth. If the insurance is informed that it is for emergency preparedness, that should not be a problem. But, here is something dicey. What if you have medicine that needs to be kept cool like insulin? In reality, you can keep insulin at room temperature for at least 28 days. So more than likely once the disaster happens and the power goes out, one of the last things to do is to check the fridge and get the kind of stuff like insulin out and put with the other medicines in your kit.
So the food that one should have is probably some freeze-dried, high protein food. Again, it should be enough to last at least a week. The infamous MREs or Meals Ready to Eat are available at Amazon.com. Also there is camping/freeze dried food usually available at a sporting goods store. Sports Chalet is a good one in the So Cal area. But if you don't mind a wait there is a fully prepared option available at Cheaper Than Dirt. I like this option because it covers at least a week and beyond.
That is why I believe building your own kit is best. Because you can tailor-make it to suit your needs.
And make sure to have at least water, enough for two weeks no matter what. And the same for the medical supplies portion.
Definitely have all different sizes of Band-aids, a couple of rolls of gauze, scissors, anti-biotic cream, wet-wipes that will clean an area where you may be cut. This is a good guide to build on or if you choose to buy.
I noted that you should have at least a kit for people and a kit for pets. But you should also have at least a rudimentary emergency kit in your car. That can be the 72 hour one. You can and should also have the pet stuff in that one. If you are all out in the car when disaster strikes, it may take quite a while to get home.
All of this is not meant to panic anyone. This is the reality of living in Earthquake Country. We all must be prepared. And we have to be realistic. That means do not count on the fire department, paramedics and or police and or National Guard to get to your area. And here is something to keep in mind. If you live in a higher-income area, that will be where they go. Also to the business districts. If you live in a lower-class area or Lower Slobovia, more than likely you already have the survival instinct in you. THAT is where people will survive. But long-term survival means adding supplies to make sure you are not a total victim.
Last night was a reminder that we all need to be prepared. This is a little reminder and a hope that someone will think about it and get ready.