Posts tagged: emergency plan

Testing Your Emergency Plan

Testing Your Emergency Planphoto source:

If you read my column regularly, you know the importance of an emergency plan as an integral component of your overall urban survival skills. Yes, it’s great if you keep a first aid kit, MRE and water on-hand, but unless you’ve mapped out how you plan to use your supplies, you’ll be a lot less effective in helping yourself, your family or your neighbors to get through a natural disaster or civil emergency. An emergency plan is vital, and testing that plan is equally critical.

When Hurricane Sandy hit the east coast, we were within the projected path, giving us a chance to really test our emergency plan. We went through all the details that I’ve mentioned to you in previous blogs, and guess what? We found holes in our own emergency plan! Thankfully, we didn’t get hit by the storm directly, and this valuable experience has helped us identify the changes that needed to be made.

How concerned should you be about an emergency plan run-through? I’ll give you some examples of situations that people have found themselves in, and let you be the judge:

• During a power outage, the homeowner retrieves a flashlight, only to discover that the batteries, which were stored inside the flashlight, have gone dead. (Tip: To keep batteries from discharging, don’t insert them into your flashlight until you need them.)

• Emergency supplies were stored in different areas of the house, making it difficult to find them during a power outage, slowing evacuation.

• The backup generator has been stored for years without being used, causing the fuel inside to spoil and making it impossible to start.

• Critical emergency supplies were stored in the basement and were flooded before they could be used.

Testing your emergency plan doesn’t require you to wait for a massive storm. Simply set up scenarios that you could likely face in a real emergency. I’ll give you three possible drills you could test against your emergency plan, and this will get you thinking about others practice runs you could create for other potential situations you could face.

• High winds snap tree branches, plunging your town into darkness. You need to be able to find your generator in the dark, get it started and run the appropriate extension cords to critical appliances.

• A tanker truck crashes on a nearby road, emitting a toxic cloud. You need to have your go-bag (including food water, spare clothes, insurance papers, ID, prescriptions and any other items) and your family in the car within five minutes, ready to evacuate.

• You’re alerted to a surprise snowstorm while at work. You need to plan out an effective route home, both by your normal route and by a secondary route in case the roads are clogged. You also need to contact all family members, arrange transportation home, and ensure that there’s enough food in the house to endure multiple days stuck inside.

If you have kids, you certainly don’t want to scare them with doomsday scenarios, but teaching them age-appropriate preparedness skills will make them better equipped to face the realities of life. Many stories have been told of children who saved the family from harm by knowing what to do in an emergency. And instilling your family members with the idea that you’re all a responsible for each other’s well being is never a bad thing.

Be safe and stay alert,

By Thomas Sciacca –

Earthquake Safety Tips: A Comprehensive Resource

Earthquake Safety Tips: A Comprehensive Resource
Earthquake Safety Tips: A Comprehensive Resource. Photo – Adobe Stock (under license)

Earthquakes account for half of the total events for the worlds top 10 most dangerous natural disasters. Prepare your self, your home, and your family with these earthquake safety tips.

Before the Quake: How to Prepare

Construct or buy a solid home, especially in an earthquake-prone area.

Create an emergency plan in case of an earthquake, and ensure your family understands it.

• Stash supplies to use in an emergency

1. Water and non-perishable food that can last for at least 3 days
2. A first-aid kit
3. Any necessary medication
4. Dust masks and goggles
5. An operating battery-run radio
6. Flashlights
7. A whistle
8. Tools that can help you turn off gas, electric, and water and heat utilities.

• Practice earthquake drills.

Know where and how to turn off your utilities.

Make your home a sturdier place.

• Bolt bookcases, latch cabinets or cupboards, nail down shifting furniture, and anchor heavy appliances.

• Construct extra support for your windows and doors.

• Store heavier objects close to or on the ground.

• Support the overall framework of your house.

• Store flammable liquids away from flame-inducing objects (stoves, furnaces).

• Fasten mirrors and heavy paintings (or whatever you have tacked up or supported on the walls) away from beds, couches, or wherever people are typically situated.

• Do it yourself or enlist the help of a professional: check for vulnerable foundations, cracked pipes, faulty or cracked walls, inadequate masonry, etc.

Imagine where you’d go.

• Envision “safe spots” in every room. If an earthquake strikes, could you dart under that table, or that desk, or that doorway?

Never block exits.

Largest ever Earthquake scored a magnitude of 9.2
In the United States, the largest recorded earthquake took place on Prince William Sound, Alaska on March 28, 1964 with a magnitude of 9.2.

More than 70 percent of California’s population resides within earthquake danger zones.

Tsunamis have caused Half a Billion Dollars in Property Damage
Since 1646, six tsunamis have killed more than 350 people and damaged a half billion dollars of property in Hawaii, Alaska and the West Coast.

Is It Possible to Predict an Earthquake?

Earthquakes are hard to predict. Even the sharpest of experts can’t reliably predict major earthquakes. They can, however, calculate probabilities based on past patterns and science.

• Common precursors:

1. Increased water levels
2. Unusual behavior by animals
3. Unusual weather patterns, especially concerning temperature.
4. Static electricity fluctuations

• When the quake strikes:

1. A roaring noise
2. The obvious shaking

• Ensure your home is as stable and secure as possible.

• Stabilize or isolate the heavy or hazardous materials in your home or workspace.

• Plan for an earthquake emergency with kits and drills.

• When an earthquake strikes: drop, seek cover, and hold on.

• After an earthquake, assess your situation and don’t make sudden moves.

• If you become trapped by an earthquake, stay where you are and try to alert others so that they can reach you instead.

Staying Safe When the Earth Starts Dancing

Know where to go.

If you’re in a car, slow down and pull over at a clear place, far from buildings, trees, and power cords.

If you’re outdoors, drop to the ground at a similarly clear place.

If you’re in bed, and relatively safe from flying or falling objects, stay put and guard your head and body with your pillow and blankets.

In a high-rise building, stay away from windows.

1. Move far from bridges and elevated highways, as these may give way.

• Never use the elevator.

Know how to ride it out.

• “Drop, cover, and hold on tight.”

Take cover beneath something sturdy that will protect you from flying, shattering objects.

1. Crouch beneath a heavy table or desk. If it moves and you can’t keep it in place, go with it.

2. Stay away from bookcases, wobbling furniture, glass, and exterior walls and doors.

• If possible, take cover within a doorframe, which is more stable and provides more support than any other place in the house.If there’s nothing to protect you, crouch against an interior wall and cover your head with your arms.

1. Only use a doorway which you know is load-bearing and strongly supported.

Know when not to run.

• Don’t be alarmed; fire alarms and water sprinklers will probably go off during an earthquake.

• Don’t exit a building during an earthquake.

1. You’re most vulnerable right outside of a building—you could easily be hit by debris that is plummeting from collapsing exterior walls.

2. Know that most injuries occur when people attempt to run inside a building.

Safety Precautions After the Quake

If you’re trapped, follow these earthquake safety tips:

• Never light a match

Don’t move. At best, you’ll kick up dust (bad for your limited air supply); at worst, you might cause a further collapse.

Cover your nose and mouth lightly with cloth.

Alert others of your location:

1. Tap on a pipe or wall
2. Use a whistle
3. Shout—as a last resort. It’s dangerous because you’ll inhale too much dust.

Assess the situation;make sure it’s safe to move before you move. If possible, exit the building as soon as possible.

Check for injuries (personal and those of the people around you).

Keep clear of damaged areas.

If you’re home, tread carefully:inspect utilities, open cabinets carefully, clean up spills, and wear protective clothes so you won’t hurt yourself amongst the debris.

If there’s a power outage,unplug appliances.

If you smell or have any indication of a gas leak,evacuate immediately; open doors and windows on your way out.

If water lines or sewage lines seem to be damaged,call a plumber before using the water and toilet utilities.

• Meanwhile, plug the bathroom and sink drains

Look for fire, a typical hazard after an earthquake.

Turn off the electricity if you discern frayed wires, sparks, or the scent of overheated insulation.

Tune in to your radio or TV for information: another earthquake might be forecasted, or resources and guidelines may be broadcasted.

Be prepared for aftershocks.

Be alert for tsunami warnings if you’re near a coastline.

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