Monday, April 21, 2014

Manners Monday - Earthquake Etiquette

I was living with a roommate in Brentwood when the 1994 Northridge earthquake hit.  It was about 4am when most everyone was rudely awakened from a deep sleep only to find the earth moving, shaking, rattling and rolling. Televisions came crashing down, items fell off of shelves, glasses and dishes flew off cupboards, power and electricity ceased to work. This was not a simulation ride at Universal Studios, this was the real deal and it was scary.  Although my roommate and I managed through it virtually unscathed, it was an experience we will always remember and hope not to repeat in the near future. However, should the earth decide to quake again soon, I have compiled a list of earthquake readiness tips to help you be your most poised and prepared.

Stash Emergency Clothing Nearby.  For some reason, earthquakes seem to strike in the wee hours of the morning when people are half clothed and scrambling around for a pair of bottoms.  Most everyone I know was in their pajamas or birthday suit when the last big earthquake hit. Take precautionary measures by keeping a pair of sweatpants nearby should you need to quickly cloth yourself in an emergency. 

Properly Affix Objects.  If you pride the precious crystal stemware passed down by your grandmother or value the important art that is hanging on your walls, head to the nearest hardware store or contact your local handyman to retrofit those items to your shelves and walls immediately. There is an array of non-damaging adhesives from earthquake putty to clear quake gel to secure your most valuable pieces.  For decorative art, use screw eyes or proper painting hooks and then anchor those hooks to the wall.  Refrain from hanging objects above beds or on the ceiling.  Avoid placing glass objects on nightstands.

Keep Phones Handy.  Keep an old-fashioned push button phone on hand along with your earthquake preparedness kit should you lose power and need to use a land line.  Most home phones are wireless systems that will fail during a power outage.  Cell phone reception may also be disrupted in the event of an emergency.  It is best to have several modes of communication available to maintain continuous contact. You'll want to be at your most calm and collected when placing calls.

Stockpile Flashlights and Candles.  These are essentials for finding your way in the dark should an earthquake hit in the evening or before dawn.  Test flashlight batteries regularly to ensure they work and keep a box of candles and matches wrapped together for easy accessibility.  Tread carefully using these tools to guide you through any areas that may be covered in debris. 

Invest in Earthquake Preparedness Kits.  One per household member.  You can never have enough supplies at the ready.  These may seem like a pricey investment at first, but you will be grateful should you need to use them.  Plus, you may be called upon to assist a neighbor or other person in need. Review contents annually to make sure dates have not expired.

Reserve Protein Bars and Water.  Protein packed bars are the most convenient and nutritious snacks to consume during an emergency.  They will provide enough sustenance to keep you going for hours on end. Bottled water is essential for hydration. The recommended allotment is one gallon of water per person per day.  Plan for 3-5 days. This will not only keep you nourished and hydrated, it will keep you rational.

Communicate Effectively.  Contact family members both locally and in far regions to make sure they are okay and to inform others that you are safe so they do not go crazy with worry.  Speak clearly and slowly sharing the most pertinent information first in the event that talk time is limited. Arrange a safety system (in advance) with local neighbors to help one another should you or they need assistance with exiting a home or utilizing a car, etc.

Take Care of the Young, Elderly or Infirmed.  Families with infants must store extra formula, diapers, bottles, powdered milk, medications and wipes. Anyone unable to walk, in need of wheelchair or walker assistance should keep those items nearby. Stock batteries, oxygen and other medications that are used on a daily basis.  Make provisions for anything that may require refrigeration.

Show Empathy.  If you happen to reside far away from the epicenter of an earthquake when it hits and didn't feel a thing, congratulations and consider yourself  lucky! Never taunt or tease those who are frightened by earthquakes, and if someone you know has suffered such a catastrophic event, show the utmost empathy and support.  

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