Thursday, March 24, 2011

Disaster Preparedness


Tsunami '04 | Christchurch | Haiti
Hurricane Katrina | Nisqually Earthquake, WA
Lewis County Flood, WA | Mount St. Helens | Snowpocalypse

My partner in my Speech class and I gave our final speech on disaster preparedness, less than a week before the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. We introduced our topic with these pictures on a power point. The last four we introduced as disasters that happened to "us," the horrible things we see on the news can and have happened here.

You just don't need to be prepared for major disasters: wind, snow, or ice can be just as devastating if you aren't ready to cope with no electricity or undriveable roads.

We found several good sources for information on what you need to have on hand.

This is my favorite of the sites I found: The Emergency Dude "Stuff Happens... Be Ready!" He has some good ideas for food, stuff you can get at the grocery store and won't break the bank to stockpile. A great quote I found on the site, "Being prepared means you aren't living in fear and you aren't living in denial - it's a perfect middle ground."

Here are the basics you need to have ready at all times:

Several gallons of water
food for 3 days of no water or electricity
flashlight and batteries
warm clothing
first aid kit
Prescription medicines
diapers (okay, so we don't need these anymore...)

Nice to have:
alternative cooking method w/ fuel for 3 days
baby wipes (I prefer these to hand sanitizer, they get off dirt better and aren't as drying)
activities for the kids
radio w/ batteries (in the flood our radio stations went offline the first day)

The hardest one for me is the 3-day supply of water for your family. It's a gallon of water per person per day. That means I need to have 27 gallons of water stored somewhere that won't flood! After the Flood in '07 we had no water for about 3 days or maybe even longer and we didn't have drinking water for 4 months. We had plenty of sources of water once the flood waters went down and we could get to town but it was a pain. We got really tired of drinking bottled water, it has no taste. The hardest part was how much water it took to cook (we could run our dishwasher if we used the "sanitize" setting). I had a 5-gallon jug we filled in town or at a friend's but cooking spaghetti took almost 2 gallons!

I went through the house and put together an emergency kit with stuff we had on hand. Other than the water we already had everything we needed, I just had to raid the winter gear and the outdoor supplies we have for Boy Scout events. As long as we keep at least one of the 3 propane tanks filled we can use the stove in the trailer or the BBQ's side burner to cook. My partner brought in a Commercial Disaster Kit with water packs and nutrition cubes. It was in a cool duffle bag but I'm not sure it's worth the cost and I think the kids would have to be pretty hungry to eat the cubes unless I could convince them they were Star Wars or Star Trek rations. I can't find them online to show you, she didn't know where they came from since it was her boyfriend's. His family has one for each person in the house and they keep them in their bedrooms if they have to evacuate.

By the way: I was 9 years old when Mt. St. Helens blew in 1980. We got inches of ash on May 24, it was the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend. The experts had no idea if the ash was lethal or even dangerous if we breathed in too much of it. It covered everything and had to be washed off roofs and cars. Because they didn't want us out in it and it was hard on vehicles to drive in it, they cancelled the rest of the school year. We went in one day and cleaned out our desks. Our parents sent Matthew and me to California to spend the summer with our grandparents because they just didn't know what else to do with us and didn't want us cooped up inside all summer. It was scary before the mountain blew, I remember one night we had an earthquake and I freaked out, I told my mom we needed to move back to California before we all died. She told me that when she was my age they started saying that California was going to break off at the San Andreas fault and fall into the ocean, but her parent's didn't move. I'm not sure if I was supposed to feel better or be more scared! We traded a volcano for earthquakes that summer, but Disneyland, Sea World, the San Diego Zoo, Knott's Berry Farm, Magic Mountain, fast food, and the beach made it worth the risk...

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