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  • 3 Simple Lists for Earthquake Preparedness

    If an earthquake rocks your city, will you have prepared yourself, your family, and your home for life after the quake? Knowing what to do before, during, and after an earthquake is essential. FEMA.gov has a prepared a comprehensive list of earthquake preparedness items from which I borrow.

     

    Before The Quake

    First and foremost, prepare your family. 72-hour kits are a must have for any disaster. Your 72-hour kit should supply you with enough resources so you and your family will make it through the first three days following a major earthquake. A good kit includes:

    • Emergency ChecklistWater
    • Non-perishable food (MREs are always a good 72-hour kit option)
    • First aid kit
    • Blanket (keeps out the cold, can be used as an impromptu shelter)
    • Flashlight with extra batteries
    • Books, toys, games for kids (OK, and for adults, too. Don’t forget my Star Wars toys!)
    • Complete change of clothing
    • Portable radio (runs on batteries or other alternate source of energy, such as solar or hand-crank)
    • Important documents and cash (ATMs and bank systems may be offline)
    • Special needs (diapers, medications, prescriptions, etc.)

     

    Of course, there are many other things you could put in your emergency 72-hour kit. For a more in-depth look at what you could put in your 72-hour kit, check out ready.gov’s list for a basic disaster supplies kit. Or, take a look at some of our pre-built emergency kits and specialized disaster kits, such as our earthquake emergency kit.

    Also before an earthquake, make sure you secure anything that could tumble to the ground. This includes TVs, microwaves, computers, and other electronics. Don’t forget to anchor your bookshelves to the walls. Other things to anchor securely are filing cabinets, china cabinets, and tall furniture. Avoid placing heavy objects about your bed or other areas in which you may be sitting. For a full list of ways to prepare before an earthquake, ready.gov has a great article you can look into.

     

    During the Quake

    Nessie I said "Nelly", not "Nessie"!

    As the saying goes, “Drop, cover, and hold on, Nelly!”

    This is fairly self-explanatory (except for maybe who Nelly is). Basically, you’ll want to:

    • Drop to your hands and knees.
    • Cover your head and neck with your arms. This will help protect you from falling objects.
    • Hold on to anything sturdy until the shaking stops (Let me clarify – until the earth stops shaking. You might be shaking for a while afterwards. That is called adrenaline and is normal.)
    • Stay away from windows, glass, and anything that could fall (ie. light fixtures and furniture)
    • If you are trapped under debris:
      • Do not light a match.
      • Use clothing or handkerchief to cover your mouth to avoid breathing in dust and other debris.
    • If you are in a car, stay inside until the tremors are over.

     

    After the Quake

    Although the earthquake has stopped, there are still dangers. Make sure you proceed with caution in the immediate aftermath of the quake.

    • After Quake SafteyCheck for injuries.
    • Wear shoes to avoid cutting your feet on broken glass or other debris.
    • Do not turn on lights or use electrical appliances inside your home until you know there is no gas leak. When using a flashlight, turn it on outside the home (flashlight battery could create a spark that could ignite gas if there is a leak).
    • Use cellular network to communicate. Texting can sometimes get through busy networks where phone calls fail.

     

    Of course, there are always more things to be aware of and keep in mind than what any one person can write down. By using caution you can avoid other unpleasantries and injuries, so be sure to stop and think about the safest way to approach each scenario as you come to them.

    Earthquakes can be devastating, but with the proper preparation and knowledge, you can still be safe and comfortable during the days that follow. Take the time to prepare now, so when an earthquake does happen, you will be ready and able to help yourself, your family, and your community.

    Posted In: Disaster Scenarios, Emergency Kits, Planning Tagged With: what to do, Earthquake, emergency preparedness

  • Spring Cleaning - Prepper Style

    Ah, the sweet sounds of spring! Birds singing, bees humming, and the clatter of bug-out bags being dumped on the floor and furiously rifled through. Yes, folks, it’s that time of year again: time for Spring Cleaning, Prepper-Style!

    While you may be tempted to focus your whole attention on cleaning out cupboards, don’t forget that spring is a perfect time to evaluate and update your emergency supplies. Here are five areas that could use a thorough going over while your unused linens are airing out.

    Spring cleaning your food supplyFood storage. We all know it’s important to rotate our food storage regularly. But whether you’re a pro at incorporating food storage into your weekly meal planning or not, it’s a good idea to do a thorough check at least once or twice a year. This is a good time to move old stuff to the front, throw out items way past their expiration, and make a list of what needs to be replaced. It might even be a fun time to plan a food storage dinner. And don’t forget dessert!

    Water storage. Did you know that water has a “best by” date? For everything but drinking, water stored in clean containers can last indefinitely. However, the longer water sits in its container, the less fresh it will taste. Most experts recommend replacing water every 6 to 12 months.

    Emergency PackPacks. Because emergency kits are meant to carry the most critical necessities, these are the supplies that most frequently need replacing. Eat or toss old food, and pack new snacks and meals. Swap out clothes and shoes children have grown out of. Check for expired meds. And consider the updated needs of each family member: has someone outgrown diapers or gotten a new glasses prescription? Be sure you’ve got what you need!

    Documents. Maybe your family is better at this than mine is. Because we all move around so often, it’s nearly impossible at any given time to have accurate contact information for us all. During your spring cleaning, it’s a good idea to make sure everyone has the right contact information for you and that you’ve got the most recent documents filed somewhere safe. Make note of address changes, new phone numbers or email addresses, updated immunization records, and renewed drivers licenses and passports.

    Fire ExtinguisherHome. Besides the big seasonal cleaning (you’re all removing moss from your roof and vacuuming out dryer filters, right?), there are little things we should check regularly to ensure our families’ safety—things like smoke alarm batteries and flashlights. And did you know that half the instances of fire extinguishers failing are due to lack of maintenance? Did you even know fire extinguishers need maintenance? Me, neither! While extinguishers can last up to 15 years, experts recommend routine inspections. At the very least, you can check the pressure gauge (green=good, red=bad) yearly, and some newer extinguishers can even be recharged.

    We hope you’re enjoying a beautiful spring wherever you are, and that you channel some of that spring cleaning energy into making sure your family is well and safely prepared. What else are you doing this spring to freshen up your emergency preparations?

     

     

    References:

    http://abcnews.go.com/US/tips-spring-cleaning-preparedness-kit-expert-prepper/story?id=23438271

    http://www.wfmynews2.com/story/news/local/2-wants-to-know/2014/05/09/fire-extinguisher-fire-2test-greensboro-fire-test-old/8899095/

    http://www.nfpa.org/research/reports-and-statistics/fire-safety-equipment/non-water-based-automatic-fire-extinguishing-equipment

    Posted In: Emergency Kits, Food Storage, Planning Tagged With: emergency foor supply, food rotation, spring cleaning

  • How Can Your Facebook Be Used for Emergency Communications?

    For about a year now, Facebook has been utilizing an emergency communications tool that helps friends know if each other is safe during disasters. Having experienced some disasters myself (albeit minor ones), I can see where this can come in very handy indeed. I’ll go into more detail on Facebook’s disaster tool in a moment, but first, join me as I flash back about ten years ago.

    Philippines Rice Field (Bukid)So there I was, living in the Philippines. One day, we got a pretty nasty tropical storm in the area in which I was living. I was quite a ways south of Manila (the capitol), where cities cease to exist and there’s a whole lot of nothing (except rice fields. There’s a lot of rice fields).

    Earlier that day, I had traveled up to the nearest town to do some much needed shopping and intended to hit up an internet café whilst there so as to let my family know I’m still alive (I would only email them once a week). Before I could get to the internet café, however, the storm blew in and I took shelter in the home of some friends.

    After a few hours of holing up inside, the storm finally subsided. When I went outside, I was shocked to see the damage that had taken place. Large trees had been uprooted, blocking roads and being a general nuisance. Power lines were down. The streets were absolutely flooded. Public transportation wasn’t going back down to where I lived because the roads were blocked with fallen trees.

    Worse still, there was no Internet to be found. That’s right, the storm broke the Internet.

    At this point, there was nothing I could do to contact my family. Fortunately, the storm wasn’t hurricane-strength, so chances are they wouldn’t even know I’d been hit by a storm and suspect a problem.

    But what if it had been something more severe? I didn’t have any way to keep up to date on the news of what was happening or where the best place to go was. Most importantly, how would my family know I was OK?

    Well, I was OK, and the next day I was able to find a place with email, and all was well. This was before the days of smart phones and Facebook (more or less), but since then, technology has increased in such a way that social media had become an effective way of making sure family and friends are safe during disasters.

    When the world turns on us and unleashes disasters on its surface, lots and lots of people turn to Facebook for answers. People want to know if their family and friends are affected, and if they’re OK. Noticing this trend, the good folks at Facebook have created a new tool to help its millions of users check up on others. This tool is called Safety Check.

    Here’s how it works.

    Once activated, Safety Check will use its superior intellect to know if you’re in the affected city or not. That superior intellect will determine where you are based on which city you’ve listed in your profile, the last place you checked in, and the city where you are using Internet. So really, Facebook’s Safety Check will determine your location based on the information you supply.

    Facebook SafetyCheckIf Safety Check determines that you are in the affected area, it will send you a Facebook notification asking if you’re safe. You can then select the “I’m safe” option, or if Facebook got your location wrong (because it’s not omniscient after all), you can select the “I’m not in the area” option. Once selected, your safety status will be sent to your friends, so they can know you’re safe.

    Communications are very important during a disaster. How will you know your family is safe? How will they know you are safe? Or how about getting the latest information during a disaster when power is out and the TV is down?

    Being safe during a disaster can require more than just food and water storage. Knowing what is happening can give you the upper hand when deciding what to do. Facebook has adopted emergency safety into its repertoire. But if you don’t have Facebook or access to that sort of technology, what other options are there?

    I give you three ways in which to communicate during an emergency (without using a phone).

     

    1. Whistles
    Whistle Give a little whistle...

     

    Let’s start with the good, ol’ fashion whistle. Having a whistle during an emergency is an easy, energy-efficient way of signaling for help. I say energy efficient in terms of your own energy (although, whistles are also great at saving electricity because, well, they’re whistles). While yelling and hollering can be loud and get attention, it takes more energy to hoot and holler than it does to blow into a whistle. The whistle will also produce a much louder noise than you may be able to produce (unless you’ve got the pipes of an opera singer, then in which case you probably win).

    I used to be a rugby referee, and let me tell you, the only way those players are going to hear you is if you have a really loud whistle. I can yell until I’m blue in the face, but nothing works better than my whistle. I have since re-purposed my ref whistle to be my emergency whistle for my emergency kit. I’m a believer.

     

    1. MirrorSignal Mirrors

    Another option for communication would be archaic signal mirrors. If you’re lost in the wilderness and looking for a rescue, enlisting the brightness of the sun to join your cause can help others find you in a…flash.

     

    1. Radios

    RadioRadios are a great option for any emergency. For one thing, radios allow you to tune in to local broadcasts, which means you won’t be left in the dark when you need to know important information. Speaking of not being left in the dark, some radios are even equipped with flashlights! Also, you don’t always have a power source, and there are many hand-crank and solar radios out there that charge up without the use of electricity. Very handy in a pinch.

     

     

    Getting the information you need during an emergency can help you prepare, know where to go and what to do, and give you peace of mind that your loved ones are safe. Facebook has seen the need to help people communicate during disasters and have created a tool to help those around the world stay connected during those difficult times.

    Whether you’re a Facebooker or not, it’s important for all of us to know how our family and friends are faring during disasters and other emergencies. Be prepared with a plan for emergency communications during these times.

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    What communications devices do you prefer to have during emergencies? What would you recommend to your fellow preppers? Let us know in the comments!

    Posted In: Disaster Scenarios, Emergency Kits, Planning Tagged With: SafetyCheck, Emergency communications, facebook

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