Preparadness for disasters
November 3, 2012 (San Diego) -- The East Coast was battered by Sandy and damage has been spectacular. This is on the other side of the country, and many of us in sunny San Diego may want to believe that we are immune. Or rather that the only risks we face are Earthquakes and Wild Fires. Well, first off, San Diego is not immune to Hurricanes. The last major storm to hit this town was in 1858.
And then there is this list from Wikipedia of Storms that have done damage to Southern California and Arizona.
Moreover, with Climate Change the storm tracks are slowly moving north, so yes, San Diego is theoretically already in storm territory. Regardless, you should be ready for a disaster for one simple reason. Government authorities have been warning for years that people need to be ready to be on their own for seventy two hours. This is a general civil defense recommendation not just limited to the United States; speaking as a former disaster manager in another country I will actually translate some of what this preparation looks like.
I will also break into you need to work on this now, you can work on this later, but do not forget about it. This is the first order of things: FOOD AND WATER.
Have enough food at hand, that needs no cooking, for three days. Here are a couple lists for two people that do not require you to cook.
1.- Four cans of tuna, six energy bars, chips, one can opener.
2.- Two cans of wieners, crackers, two boxes, a large bottle of peanut butter, nut bars, four of them just to have some to spare.
3.- Two cans of cream of chicken soup, can be eaten cold, two cans of sardines, crackers, chips, and a two cans of beans.
This is actually a little more than seventy two hours, and it is far from luxurious, but will keep you fed.
It goes without saying, have some paper plates and disposable cutlery just in case you can't wash your dishes and cutlery.
Alternatively you could go get a nice backpack that has all the essentials at the Home Depot. Realize, if you have food allergies those food rations might be problematic. Or you could get MREs. These are very much calorically dense, and again think about food allergies. If you have no issues like that. those backpacks are perfect to have in a vehicle at all times. Just remember the water in them is shelf stable for only five years. So do add a tag with the date to them and plan on changing it.
Water" have six gallons of it at home. Whether you fill them at home before the storm hits, or have then store bought, it is a gallon per person per day, for drinking only. Remember, just like with the food, it needs to be cycled. My rule is, at the three month point, I use it to make coffee. Oh and since we live in quake country, you should have them at home anyways.
Also have a roll of paper towels, and three rolls of toilet paper. You should also consider feminine needs products, and if you have babies, or toddlers, extra diapers.
If you have babies, if you are a lactating woman, plan to drink more water than the gallon, and also have some formula and way to prepare it. This means extra water, and yes, clean bottles already for a few days.
These are really minimum standards. Realize cycling your food is really easy. When you buy new cans, place them behind the old cans. That way you use older stock first. I am almost betting that most of you actually have the food, nothing luxurious, but you have some of this already. Going over your supplies every so often, like every six months, is not a bad idea either. Or if you prefer after every major scare anywhere in the country.
I mentioned the can opener, let me add a multitool, a flashlight (invest in a good one, you will be glad you did) and a transistor radio. Ok, why the radio? In our world we are used to the internet. I can guarantee in a major disaster the net will go down, but the AM band will be on. In San Diego County the Emergency Station is KOGO 600.
There are many choices for that radio, ranging from cheap ones that you can get at five to fifteen dollars that run on batteries, they will serve, all the way to the hand cranked ones that can also charge your devices and have a weather band. If you can afford it, get one that can do that. If not, make sure you have that cheap radio and extra batteries. Trust me, in a disaster your main source of OFFICIAL information will come through that AM channel. And yes, I know that many people discount the radio, since we all think the web will be around.
We recently bought a solar charger for our devices. They can be found for about twenty dollars, and are worth the investment.
Now this is as barebones of a list as it gets. And it is a good start. You are far from done, but it will help you to get started and to get in the habit of preparedness.
Other Things to Consider.
These other steps are essential but not in the need to get to first category.
Cash at hand. Try to have forty dollars, as a minimum, as an emergency reserve at home. Stores lose power, they will not take your credit card. Also make sure you have prescription medications and a spare pair of glasses. As to the medicines, either slowly work yourself to a month, or ask your doctor for an extra prescription.
Bleach, will disinfect your water, two drops for a gallon. Oh and that water tank behind your toilet, that is a reservoir of water unless you put something on it to keep it clean. Before a storm approaches fill your tub with water that will be used to wash dishes, and other things, do not confuse your drinking water with your washing water. If we have another blackout, fill containers as soon as possible.
Toweletes with disinfectant to clean hands.
Whistle" it might sound crazy but especially in quake country, that whistle might allow rescuers to find you.
A portable stove
Fire starters (Yes fire is essential, in a survival situation so you can really move it to the top of the list, if you so wish.)
It goes without saying a fire extinguisher, and learn how to use it. The worst time to learn how to one is when you need it.
There is more and here is the list from the County"
Also, this is critical, make a plan. Have a contact OUTSIDE the area that all your family can call in case of an emergency. As crazy as it sounds sometimes you can call, or most likely text, to an outside area phone, but can't get across the street. So having a contact outside can help.
This should also include a family reunification plan in case you get separated.
And one more thing. You have a smart phone? You have an IOS device? Please, make your way to the App Store for either and download the ready San Diego App. It will provide you, assuming the web is up, or the cell phone towers, with the information you need directly from emergency services. It is an RSS feed on the go. It also has these preparation lists on it, so you can go ahead and check them as you go. I also included the most essential parts of that preparedness list.
Some things that you would find useful, but not necessarily critical, a good camping tent. and good tools like an entrenching tool, and paracord. They are not in most lists for a reason. Another, especially if you live in the back country, like many of our readers do, generators and fuel to go with them.
Oh and it goes without saying, you got pets. have a crate for them, and be ready to move them. Have food and water for them. You got larger animals, have a plan and check where the large animal shelters will be.
You have children? Trust me, some board games will be a lifesaver.
You don't, add a good book to your list of things to have in your bug out kit, a paper book, and a deck of cards. It will keep you entertained. Oh and remember, check on your neighbors after the incident. Believe it or not, during the Black out I loaned out radios to my neighbors. Yes, you read right, we have a few transistor radios.
One last thing, if we do have a major disaster, have patience. Response can seem to be slow to you, but remember, this is a large county. It will take time. This is one reason you are told, be ready to be on your own for seventy two hours.
Oh and this is in no manual, but mother taught me this trick and I have found it invaluable over the decades. Always fuel up when you reach half a tank. That way you will have fuel in your vehicle.
Writer, blogger, journalist, based in San Diego. Started doing this with Occupy and has grown from there.
As a trained historian I was struck by Occupy, which will be considered an important moment in US History, at leaset in my opinion.