Disaster Preparedness

This week marks the 26th anniversary of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. Centered in the Nisene Marks State Park in the Santa Cruz Mountains, the quake occurred at 5:04pm on October 17th on the San Andreas fault. Each year, this date serves as a reminder to those who live in Palo Alto, Sunnyvale and across the Bay Area to step up disaster preparedness. And with the added danger of fire due to our drought along with the threat of an impending wet winter, it is a good a time as any to ensure our homes and our families are safe.

We all know that it’s smart to plan in advance to ensure we have enough food, water, first aid supplies, medication, flashlights and other equipment stockpiled if the need arises but how do we start? As one would expect, the American Red Cross has in-depth checklists and resources for a number of different situations including earthquake, flood and fire to name but a few.

Earthquake Checklist

Though many of us have been told standing in a doorway during an earthquake is the safest place to be, its far better to get beneath a sturdy piece of furniture. The Red Cross checklist provides information on preparation, what to do during a quake as well as what you should expect during and after the event.

If either a home fire or wild fire occur, it is critical to get out of the building or affected area, stay out and call for help. Most home fires can be prevented with identifying and resolving fire hazards. Wild fires can often go unnoticed but can spread quickly. It’s important to prepare in advance if you live in an area that is at higher risk. One key element to prepare for and practice is an evacuation route. Know your home, the key ingress and egresses and know your options for escape. Both of these checklists provide helpful information regarding prevention as well as preparation.

After four years of severe drought and this summer’s many devastating fires throughout California, flooding is a very real possibility, especially if we get above average rainfall this winter. Floods are among the most common and most destructive of natural disasters and preparing in advance is crucial if you’re anywhere near a flood zone. The Flood Checklist provides information and advice on getting your plan in place.

For access to all of the Red Cross’s preparedness checklists, click here. They also have a number of preparedness apps that you can download on your smartphone.

Most of us spend quite a bit of time in our vehicles so it is also smart to have a disaster kit in our cars as well as at our home and office. There are numerous places online to purchase emergency or disaster kits that include food, water and medical supplies. The Red Cross has an online store that offers prepackaged kits along with a variety of tools and equipment. Ready.gov has a helpful website that lists in detail how to build your own disaster kit tailored to your family’s unique needs.

There is a tremendous amount of information available as well as resources to ensure you are as prepared as you can be if some sort of disaster occurs. And if you prepare and never need those supplies and evacuation routes? So much the better!