Southern California is located on hundreds of earthquake faults and during the summer months brush fires rage across the landscape. Orange County has its fair share of both earthquakes and wild fires! It is important to be prepared to spend some time right where you are (earthquake)as help may be days or even weeks away! It is also important to be able to move quickly away from your home (fire) and take care of yourself and your family until help arrives.
If you are visiting the OC and an earthquake hits....STAY CALM but quickly get to a safe place away from windows, heavy objects and power or telephone lines. Travel with a flashlight for each member of the family and keep them handy along with shoes when you go to bed at night. If the power is interrupted you will be walking down flights of stairs in the dark. There are many aftershocks and it is common to "feel" an earthquake when a bus drives by or simply for no reason at all after your first experience. Hotels have emergency supplies and are prepared to take care of you but it is best to be prepared! And, don't let the threat of earthquakes keep you away from Southern California. Every area of the country has some sort of natural challenge - extreem cold, rain, flooding, tornadoes, hurricanes, HEAT - we have earthquakes and about every 10 years there is one you can actually feel.
If you live in Orange County or anywhere in Southern California, especially if you are new to the area, it is time to prepare TODAY. Even if you think you are ready - take some time to review your plan and supplies. We had a 5.4 earthquake in August and everyone is talking about "the big one" that is coming and how we may be completely on our own for days or even weeks when it does. It is very important that you and your family HAVE A PLAN and that you are prepared. Checklists are available in the front of your phone book or online through the Red Cross, local fire departments and various private companies. You can purchase a variety of packages that contain what you need for every emergency or build your own as we have - JUST DO IT! Get started making your emergency preparations TODAY!
Have your Camping Gear double as your Earthquake preparedness Kit -
We are campers so our camping gear (stored in the garage)doubles as our emergency preparedness supply kit at home and so can yours with a few additions or changes to the way your store your stuff. We found that as we took multiple camping trips each year we were packing and unpacking A LOT - so we made a few changes. We now have two plastic tubs that house the majority of our camping stuff except for food and clothing. When we get home and unpack and get the laundry done - WHEW - we restock and repack the bins for the next trip. This not only makes the next trip easier but very nearly makes us ready for an earthquake or any other unexpected emergency.
Bin One Includes:
Flashlights (large and small)
Extra tent stakes
First Aid Kit and book
Cash and Change
Extra keys for car and house
Tablet and pen
Bin Two Includes:
Coffee Pot and zips of coffee
Paper Products (TP, plates, bowls, paper towels, napkins, zip locks, foil and plastic utensils)
Pot with lid
Several size knives
Liquid detergent, sponge and scraper
Cooking and serving utensils
Extra eyeglasses for Joe
Soap, shampoo, cream rinse, toothbrushes and paste
Washcloths and towels
Peanuts and sunflower seeds (for birds and squirrels)
Instant soup and hot chocolate
Small boxes of cereal
Small size condiments (mustard, catsup, mayo etc., - brand new every time!)
Salt, pepper, sugar
Peanut butter, jelly and Ritz crackers
Put a lable on the top of each bin listing its contents....then you don't have to DIG when you need something!
We have the tent, sleeping bags and cots stored in the garage so we can move outside in the yard (or anywhere else) if necessary, with little effort. We also have the propane stove and propane tanks we can use outside if it is not possible to cook in the house. These items combined with our patio furniture and some drop cloths could make a somewhat decent habitat for our family. (Be sure you check for leaks before lighting a camp stove or outdoor grill!)
We have a fire extinguisher mounted on the wall of the garage and a large pipe wrench handy if we need to turn off any leaking utilities. In addition to the flashlights in the camping bins we have one in each room and candles galore. We have a wonderful fireplace lighter we use around the house instead of matches.
Water - is a huge concern in any emergency and especially when you don't know how long you will be on your own. We fill up the two large Rubbermaid jugs with fresh water after we wash them thoroughly and store them with the other water we keep on hand. We have the large plastic 2.5 gallon containers from the store along with cases of individual bottles of our favorite brand. The rule is 1 gallon per person per day for a week. That seems like a lot but will go quickly even if you are careful. Note: As soon as the shaking stops it is suggested you fill your bathtubs with water. You can drink this water (if you have to) by adding 1 drop of household bleach for each liter - if you are unable to boil it! Note 2: Line the toilets at your home with large trash bags so you can use them even if you can't flush. And, simply (simply?) take the bags out to your large trash bin.
Food - is less of a concern - especially if you are at home when a disaster strikes! Remember to use fresh foods first, then frozen, then canned and dry goods. And…do not open the refrigerator or freezer door unless you have to….plan ahead and be quick as you are loosing precious COLD that will keep your food edible longer. Think about stocking up on canned goods such as tuna, fruits, juices, vegetables, soups and stew when there are fabulous sales and then rotate them out to the community or school food drives.
When disaster hits and you are not at home - it is important to have car packs in each vehicle. Remember you may need to hike to get to safety and it could happen at any time! We always make sure we have comfortable walking shoes (meaning I have a pair of tennis shoes in each car in case I am wearing heels) and a hoody before we leave home! We also keep beach towels in our cars (surfing etc.) which could be used for shelter or warmth.
Each car has a back pack that includes:
First Aid Kit
Tablet and pen (so you can write where you are going if you leave the car)
Candy and gum
Cash and change
Our son knows that his Dad and I will get to him, so he needs to stay where he is - if at all possible. Make sure your kids know what to do so they will feel confident and less afraid.
Even with the price of gas 'through the roof' ALWAYS keep the tanks full. You NEVER know when you will be unable to get more and you will absolutely need it!
We don't live in an area likely to be threatened by brush fires but we are within range of the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant so we have in place our 5 minute pack the car and hit the road drill. Know where your old pictures, documents and other items of value (to you) are located so you can quickly retrieve them and get to safety. Don't forget the pets!
It is widely expected that ATMs etc will be down, possibly for days, and credit cards will be virtually useless - so keep cash on hand.
And…we have a plan that every member of our family will call my sister in Oklahoma to let her know we are safe and our location and she will relay that to everyone else who calls. It is easier (we have been told) to complete out of state calls during an emergency than local ones. Everyone carries a cell phone but during our 5.4 event last week - none of them worked for about an hour!!! And, no one called my sister - so we are revisiting our plan!!
If you have pets or babies, again, you need to make special preparations for them and for their needs special needs.
Finally, STAY CALM - it will be a lot easier to do if you're prepared for any disaster! And... now that you're organized and ready to go camping - why not get outside for a few days in one of California's FABULOUS campgrounds?
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