Why bother to prepare emergency supplies for a natural disaster, if you aren’t prepared to defend yourself against looters in the event of an emergency? It is important to learn beforehand how to guard yourself and family against personal attacks and bodily injury, than to worry about it once disaster strikes.
Sadly, it only took people two hours to start looting after the tragic Northridge Earthquake, which struck at 4:30 in the morning on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, January 17, 1994. According to the Los Angeles Fire Department operations notes for that day, “by 7:00am, there were over 100 active incidents being handled by field resources.”
It is the rule rather than the exception that the worst of times, when food and basic supplies are running low, it can bring out the criminal element in people. It is imperative to take personal safety lessons, because your security alarm system won’t work when the power grid is down.
Many police agencies around the country offer low cost self-defense classes,as do some Young Women Christian Associations, as well as your local community colleges.
Remember to certify all the adults in the family for CPR and basic first aid lessons, because the first aid services in your area will go to the most critically injured first. You must be prepared to treat minor injuries at home.
In many cities, you can learn emergency CPR and first-aid from a city sponsored event or organization, both of which are excellent preventative measures, as emergency services are limited during the most severe natural disasters. You may need to rely entirely on your own skills and knowledge in those first critical hours following an earthquake, flood, tornado, hurricane or other natural disaster.
Education, Education, Education
Educate yourself on your utility shut-off points. Keep a well-oiled, water protected wrench handy to open/close these shut off valves in an emergency. Make sure to get the OK from city utility officials before turning gas or electricity back on.
For homeowners with solar powered electrical generation systems, the utilities require an AC disconnect switch next to the electric service meter. If you turn the switch to the OFF position, you will be able to disconnect the solar system from the utility grid power, making it safe for workmen to work on the high voltage utility lines during emergency repair.
A Dozen More Things to Do Before “The Big One”
1. Water Needs: Buy purified water in sealed containers, approx. 64 ounces per person, per day. Empty the expired water and refill with clean water every three years and buy water purification tablets.
2. Securely wrap in waterproof packaging; sleeping bags, blankets, pillows, clothing, tent, tennis shoes, coats.
3. Check and replenish stored food supplies for one week of food, calculating the number of calories per person, per day with the following formula.
The formula can be found on the Global Health and Fitness website.
A. Basal Metabolic Rate= Body weight multiplied by 12 (for men) or 11 (for women) e.g., (a male) weighing 160 lbs. x 12 = 1920, plus
B. Activity= One third body weight multiplied by the number of hours you are awake, typically 16 hours= 160 lbs. x 1/3 = 53 x 16 = 848
C. Required Calories= A + B= 1920 + 848 = 2768 calories per day for a 160 lb. man, OR
C. Required Calories= A + B= 1430 + 688= 2118 calories per day for a 130 lb. woman.
Example of the canned food inventory:
Fruit; peaches, pears, pineapple, apricots, Mandarin oranges.
Meat/protein: chicken, garbanzo beans, hominy, pinto beans.
Vegetables: green beans, Corn, beets, stewed tomatoes, mushrooms.
Soup: mushroom, tomato, chicken noodle, chicken broth.
Dry Goods: popcorn, stuffing, Mac N’ cheese, instant oatmeal, bag of rice, bag of dried beans, spaghetti, pasta sauce.
Drinks: Hot chocolate, bottled fruit juice, bottled water, can of coffee, instant coffee, tea.
Seasonings: bottle of ketchup, bottle steak sauce, bottle of olives, jar of mustard, spices.
Prepare one day of eating from your earthquake supplies. Attempt to use just the emergency supplies to cook for your family for one day to see if the menu will work, especially in an emergency.
Tableware: plastic cups, paper plates, plastic utensils
Pet food supplies: cans of food, bags of dry food, medicines for cats, dogs, bird, etc.
Cleaning supplies: liquid soaps, detergent, cleanser, scrub brush.
Medical supplies: hydrogen peroxide, cotton balls, clean bandages, clean scissors, alcohol wipes, fully stocked first-aid kit for home and each automobile.
Prescription medicines: (for each member of the family)
Toiletries: toilet paper, paper towels, facial tissues, shampoo, female hygiene products. Miscellaneous. non-electric can opener
Solar oven– Purchase a solar oven, because if the gas is turned off, you can still cook your food outside with safe, passive solar energy.
4. Have copies of all important documents in waterproof material. Originals should be in a fireproof safe in your home or a safe deposit box at a bank.
5. Check the working status of all the shut-offs for: electrical service, water and gas.
6. Have an Emergency Contact Plan for your family. It is best if you all memorize the number of an out-of-state relative or friend, in order to leave messages with them about your status in an emergency. Oftentimes in an emergency the local lines will be tied up, however you can easily get through to an out-of-state number. Instruct children on 911, police, and fire department procedures.
7. Have at least two flashlights easily available, one on each floor of your home. Remember to store the batteries separately in a plastic bag, do not store them in the flashlight, in the event that they expire and rupture in will not ruin your flashlight. Check these batteries once a year to make sure they’re still working. Have a solar powered radio, to keep informed of the latest safety alerts in your area. By a solar lantern with rechargeable batteries for source of temporary lighting.
8. Secure all major appliances, heavy mirrors and pictures to the walls with appliance straps, so they don’t fall over in the case of earth movement. Place large, heavy objects on lower shelves, and store breakable for fragile items in locked cabinets.
9. Make sure that your car is in good working condition, keep up the regular tune-ups and have a spare can of gas stored safely in your garage. Have a fully stocked first-aid kit, bottled water, and an extra pair of walking shoes in your car, in case you’re on the road when the emergency occurs. You will need these in the event that you have to walk to get to a safe location, or to get home.
10. Keep all electric wiring and gas connections in good repair to prevent potential fire hazards. Update foundations and brick chimneys to current earthquake standards.
11. Identify the safe places in each room, and outdoors, in the event that you are caught outside in an earthquake.
12. Keep some cash on hand (in small denominations), because the ATM machines won’t work if the power is out in your area.
You can’t prevent a natural disaster, but you can prepare so that you’ll manage to survive when they do occur.