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The 27th Anniversary of California's Loma Prieta Earthquake: Let's Review Disaster Plans By Tricia Law

Posted on 17 October 2016

Today marks the 27th Anniversary of the Loma Prieta Earthquake in California, which is a good time to review disaster plans.

Californians talk a lot about earthquake preparedness. Ironically, most people I know are not ready for an earthquake or the possibility of a fire evacuation, which is an even more likely scenario in California. Having grown up in the San Francisco Bay Area and lived here much of my life, I confess to being somewhat complacent when it comes to disaster readiness. Our family home sustained limited damage in the Loma Prieta Earthquake and communication was brought back on line within hours. That said, we do keep a bin full of canned foods and replace it once a year, donating the unused but still good items to a local food bank. We try to remember to buy five-gallon water jugs and to cycle through them. We are avid back packers and campers and so have a garage full of tents, sleeping bags and the like. We have a propane adapter for our camp stove, batteries and lanterns. Even so, if we had to leave with ten-minutesnotice, we would be scrambling.

Just a couple weeks ago, seismic activity in the Salton Sea had scientists warning of an elevated risk for a big San Andreas faultearthquake. These warnings and the Florida evacuations during recent Hurricane Matthew got me thinking about my friend Wendy and my own readiness. Wendy lived in Florida for several years and was instructed to create a water-tight box with all her important documents, something she could grab if the threat of a hurricane required she evacuate. Like many of us with earthquake plans, she never needed to use it. But, ten years later, she and her husband had moved their family to Yorba Linda, California, where they were evacuated for a fire. She was so glad she still had all her essentials in that bin!

If an evacuation is necessary, it is important that each family member have personal items packed and ready to go. Travel Pick’s BelloNoir and BellaRouge bags are compact and won’t take up a lot of space in a closet or car trunk. Plus, each bag has an organizational system to keep supplies readily accessible. Here is what I put in this emergency “go” bag, which is ready if we have to leave in a hurry. Your family should each pack their own bag (children included) so they know where everything is and understand it’s purpose.

Here is our packing list:

• Identification and Contact Information: photo copies of driver’s license, passports, insurance information, photos of children, and a list of contact names and numbers, including an out-of-state point person for all family to contact in an emergency in order to verify well-being. This is super important if you don’t have your phone or you run out of battery. Many of us do not memorize phone number since the advent of the smart phone.
• Cash.
• Note paper and pens.
• First Aid and Medication: A small first-aid kit and at least a week’s supply of all your essential medications. For prescriptions, keep them in the labeled containers, which will help if it becomes necessary to get a refill on the road.
• A large bottle of water and several power bars.
• A change of clothing and sturdy pair of shoes. Extra socks and underwear. These fit very nicely in my AquaDry bag that came with the BelloNoir bag.
• A blanket and a blow-up pillow, which I put in the expandable compartment.
• Flashlight, extra batteries, and an emergency radio. Waterproof matches, dust masks, whistle, a couple packs of tissues.
• Travel-sized hygiene products, which I put in the Claro-T bag, including: toothpaste, toothbrush, shampoo, deodorant, soap and small washcloth, wet wipes and moisturizer.
• Other hygiene items to consider: toilet paper, feminine hygiene products, baby supplies.
• Playing cards, reading material, small games.

Another thing that we have put together is a 5-gallon all-purpose bucket and a lid. We filled this with kitchen/eating essentials, household chlorine bleach, heavy-duty garbage bags, toilet paper, a tarp and rope.

If you have pets, small children, or elderly in your home, there are some additional great tips on the Woodside Fire Protection District’s “Citizens Emergency Response Preparedness Program” website. www.cerpp.org.

Growing up, my father always talked about the FIVE “Ps”: Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance! It is great advice. Take the time to renew your commitment to being ready in an emergency.

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