Friday, December 12, 2008

How to prepare for earthquakes

The nice thing about preparing for a disaster, is that you're prepared for many different kinds of disasters.

I hope you have stored food, water, extra clothes, and items for sanitary needs. The problem with earthquakes is that many times your home may be damaged, or destroyed which will make retrieving your preparedness items tricky at best, or impossible at worst.

Always store non-perishable backup supplies in your vehicles. Have spare tools for shutting off gas and water supplies in your vehicle if possible. Have extra gloves and eye protection too. A bump cap or hard hat is nice to have if you have to navigate a damaged structure. A nail or screw in the old noggin isn't fun.

Dust masks should be stored too. If you live or work in an area of older homes or buildings, keep in mind that asbestos may be released into the air when a building is damaged. Then there's the really fun stuff like bat guano (depending on where you are) which can lead to other issues other than mesothelioma.

If you have to wear dress or business casual clothes to work, pack a set of durable clothes (or a heavy coverall) and heavy shoes or boots. There will be broken glass and metal debris to contend with. Make sure the footwear is comfortable enough to walk long distances in. You may have to hoof it home.

One thing that many preparedness lists overlook are reflective safety vests. They're inexpensive at places like Home Depot and Lowes. You may find yourself outside at dark with out any electrical power. People attempting to drive will need help seeing you in the dark.

Pack your home supplies in large plastic totes, or durable surplus military footlockers. The footlockers will survive much better than plastic if there is a collapse. However, the footlockers tend to be more expensive, heavier, and not as roomy as the plastic totes. If possible, store your preparedness supplies in an area close to an exterior wall. A small closet adjacent to an exterior wall tends to be more structurally sound, and may survive a quake better than other areas. If you do experience a complete collapse of your dwelling, it will tend to be easier to retrieve as well.

One of the best guides that I have read for earthquake preparedness is published by the Los Angeles Fire Department. It doesn't treat the reader like a complete newbie. It can be downloaded and printed from here.

The CDC (Centers For Disease Control and Prevention) also have an excellent online resource for contending with quakes. Unlike the LA Fire Department's guide, it isn't in a easily printed format, but it should be read as it links to related issues which may occur post quake. You can view it here.

The US Geological Survey has a comprehensive set of links to help nearly everyone, including business owners, cope with the aftermath of a quake. They can be viewed here.

I've looked at many of the earthquake preparedness kits offered for sale on line, and I'd advise you to avoid them. They tend to be generic (not specific to your individual needs), contain items of dubious quantity or quality, or are over priced. You would be well served if you invested the time in assembling your own kits.

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