I went to bed super early last night, because I have been burning the candle at both ends for over a month, and I was EXHAUSTED! When I woke up bright and early this morning, I checked the news and read that there had been a 6.9 earthquake off the California shore. The first thing I thought was “I’ve never slept through an earthquake before. I MUST have been tired.” However, I soon discovered that it was off the coast of Northern CA. I live in Southern CA.
Southern California, the mecca of earthquakes in the USA (or at least one of them). I have never experienced a major earthquake, but I have quite a few friends who have. They told me that after the Northridge quake, it was so dark that they could not see anything! Nothing at all! There was absolutely no light. In a major city or suburb, that’s saying something. Then, there was the problem with water. There wasn’t any. If you were lucky enough to have something come out of your taps, it wasn’t safe to drink or use to wash your dishes or your clothes or your bodies, or to do anything with it.
So, no earthquake here last night, but it got me thinking. Am I ready? Like really, truly, 100% ready?
Growing up, I repeatedly said that I would NEVER live in California, because there are earthquakes in California. I much preferred my DC area thunderstorms. We really didn’t get many tornadoes or hurricanes or earthquakes. Of course, within a couple of weeks after flying home from our “Outer Banks Beach Bash” family reunion, Richmond, VA was hit with an earthquake, a hurricane, and a small tornado or two (if there is such a thing as a “small” tornado). So, I guess even the east coast isn’t safe from natural disasters.
Back to my original point, earthquakes freak me out just a little bit. I have 72 hour kits , but there’s more to earthquake preparedness than just having a 72-hr kit. Today, I’m assessing my readiness, and you get to do it along with me. Isn’t that fun?
1. Shoes and flashlight by the bed? – Why? One of the most common injuries after an earthquake is not falling debris, it’s glass. Glass breaks during an earthquake. Stuff falls off of shelves, pictures fall off of walls, windows break, etc. You get the idea. If you’re walking around barefoot after an earthquake, you’re going to get hurt. So, I keep my walking shoes next to my bed.
And a flashlight in my nightstand.
My nightstand could fall over, so I have back-up lights in a few strategic locations throughout my house.
2. 72 hour kits current? – Yes. I replaced the water a few months ago, replaced the food bars, and checked the batteries in my flashlights. They’re also in a place I can grab them and go if I need to.
I have extra water bottles in the same closet and some 55 and 30 gallon water barrels (filled with water) just in case.
3. 72 hour kits in cars? – Yes, mostly. My husband has a comprehensive 72 hour kit in the back of his car, because he works pretty far from home. If there’s a serious earthquake, he may need to walk home or shelter in place for a couple of days. His kit includes a small tent, emergency sleeping bag, radio, flashlight, food, water, and a basic first aid kit. Sorry, he left before I thought to take a picture of the back of his car, but it looks just like our home emergency kits.
I drive two different cars. In one of them, I have a case of water, emergency food bars, and a flashlight.
In the other, I just have water and a flashlight (in the glovebox). I also have a multi-tool in the glovebox. I need to get food for that car as well.
4. Gas in my car? - YES! I have at least a 1/2 tank of gas in both the cars I drive (and I’m pretty sure my husband does for now). Do I always keep my cars above a half a tank of gas? No, but I should. If there’s a big earthquake, the gas stations are closed until they are inspected for safety. So, if I don’t have gas, I won’t be able to drive anywhere.
5. Cash on hand? - YES! At least some. We keep a little cash on hand (small bills as there may not be change available) just in case of an earthquake or other emergency. If there’s a big earthquake, there’s often no electricity and phone lines are down. That means no ATMs working, no point-of-sale credit card purchases. Cash is king in emergencies. And there are other times you may need cash. What if there’s a power outage in your area? You won’t be able to use your credit or debit card then either.
6. Extra food, water, and other necessities beyond the 72 hour mark? – YES! I have enough food and water to last a little while and to share some with my neighbors if they don’t have enough.
I also have a couple of tents, better sleeping bags, and some lanterns in case we need to evacuate our home and want to stay onsite.
WHY do I need food beyond the 72 hour mark? If it’s a big enough earthquake (or storm or anything), it will take more than 3 days for things to go back to normal. It will likely take more than 3 days for rescuers (government, non-profit, etc.) to arrive with help (food, water, etc.).
Don’t believe me? Think Hurricane Katrina and the people starving in the Superdome. Think West Virginia Chemical Spill affecting their water more than 30 days after the chemical spill. Think my parent’s neighborhood after a storm last year. The trees brought down power lines, and they didn’t have power for a week in the middle of the summer. No power = no light. Unless you have some of these babies.
7. A way to cook food if my stove/oven/microwave are unavailable? – A Partial YES! I have a camp stove, a BBQ, and a George Foreman propane powered grill with extra fuel (propane and charcoal) for all three, but if they’re a no go if there’s a big earthquake.
In a big earthquake, gas lines break. Broken gas lines = no lighting fires or matches. If I light a fire or a match anywhere near a broken gas line, there will be disastrous consequences beyond the earthquake itself. So, I will be okay with cooking, once it is confirmed that there are no broken gas lines.
If I can’t light a fire, I have my emergency food bars. They are ready to eat as is. They won’t be particularly satisfying, but they are safe to eat and will provide for my basic needs. I also have some “just add water” meals. I can add hot water, and let them sit. Of course, I need to find a way to heat my water.
My son, AJ, just assured me that he knows how to make a solar oven. (Thank you, Boy Scouts!) I’ll put him to work asap, so I have that BEFORE the big one hits. Or there are solar ovens you can buy online. I’ve been thinking about adding one to my emergency prep stuff, so I’ll get on that.
8. Safety latches on cupboards? - No! I don’t have these. If there’s an earthquake, all my stuff in my cupboards will end up all over my floor. Think broken glass, broken dishes, and food all over the kitchen. YAY! Not. I have thought about getting something, but I haven’t yet. I’ve read that I can use a heavy duty rubber band. I’m not sure they’re the best solution, but they’ll do the job until I can get something better.
9. Hot water heater strapped? – YES! It was done when I bought the house, because it’s required for code, but it’s done, and I still get credit for it!
10. Furniture strapped to walls? – No! I need to get on this one. Tall bookshelves can fall over in an earthquake, and hurt someone. We don’t have a ton of tall furniture, but I really need to get some straps, and strap them to the wall.
Please understand that this is not an exhaustive list of everything I can do to prepare for an earthquake, but it’s a start. It’s a good start.
How about you? What emergencies are you likely to face in your area? Power outages? Hurricanes? Contaminated water?
Are you ready? What can you do to be more prepared? Do you have food, water, a tent, sleeping bags, or a generator?
Emergencies happen. I want all of my family and friends (Real and Internet) to be prepared and safe. So, please take a moment today, or within the next week, and assess your readiness. You don’t have to do everything today, but you can do something.