Every month we see something on the news that makes us at Milestone Building Group think about how we could be more prepared. We had some earthquakes last month here in Southern California, some wildfires in the Riverside area, Northern California has experienced some wildfires that caused evacuations, and of course Hurricane Issac battered the Louisiana coast and even caused damage inland.
Orange County residents, take note: Those in the weather business have been predicting an El Niño this winter, which means heavy rain and flooding. We’re happy to help you clean up—it’s what we do, after all—but we’d rather you were prepared.
September is National Preparedness Month, so we at Milestone Building Group want nothing more than to see our customers safe and sound. Here are a few tips, in the hopes that more Southern Californians will take earthquakes and mudslides more seriously and be better prepared.
Tip #1: Put together a kit of emergency supplies.
You know, like your sixth grader keeps telling you to do. Here’s the FEMA recommended list of emergency kit items (keep in mind, the kit should ideally last for at least three days):
- Water: one gallon per person per day, for drinking and sanitation
- Non-perishable food – a three-day supply (don’t forget your pets!)
- Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA weather radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- First aid kit
- Whistle to signal for help
- Filter mask or cotton t-shirt, to help filter the air
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- Manual can opener if kit contains canned food
- Plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
- Important family documents
- Items for unique family needs, such as daily prescription medications, infant formula or diapers
Think about having two kits: One for if you’re trapped inside, and one smaller version that can be taken with you if you need to evacuate. There are several emergency kits on the market that you can buy ready-made. No excuses!
Tip #2: Make an Emergency Plan.
This one is for the whole family. Everyone needs to be involved with this safety task. Remember, a family emergency plan is essential, so that if you’re not all together when disaster strikes, you’ll know what the others will be thinking and doing. FEMA recommends that each family member calls or emails the same friend or relative in the event of an emergency. Sometimes in these situations, it’s easier to make a long-distance call outside of the emergency area than get a hold of someone across town. Be sure each person knows the emergency contact phone number and has the means to call them. Use common sense and the information you hear on the television and radio to determine if there is immediate danger that would cause you to evacuate, or if you should stay where you are.
If you do stay in your Orange County home or office, for instance because the air is potentially contaminated, consider having a plan to “shelter-in-place” and seal the room. Have plastic sheeting available, ideally pre-cut to several inches larger than the windows, air vents and doorways so it can be duct taped flat against the wall. If you see debris in the air or the local authorities say the air is contaminated, quickly get your family and pets inside and lock doors, close windows and air vents and replace dampers. Turn off all air conditioning and forced air heating, exhaust fans and clothes dryers, and seal all windows, doors and vents. Make sure you have your emergency supplies with you, and keep updated through television, radio or internet to receive instructions from local emergency management officials.
Evacuating can be the best, or only, option. Discuss with your family and determine where you would go, how you would get there and where you would meet up. Talk to your neighbors—a community working together can be a big help, especially if your family is not together when the disaster hits. Choose several different destinations in different directions, says FEMA, so you have options in an emergency. Try to keep your car’s gas tank at least halfway full of gas, and be familiar with any other means of transportation out of your area, especially if you do not have a car. Unless you think it’s contaminated, take your emergency kit with you and don’t forget your pets, if told to evacuate. Talk to your employer and your children’s schools about evacuation plans and how they will communicate with your family during an emergency. Don’t assume they have a plan! If you are an employer and don’t have an emergency plan for your employees, start right now.
Tip #3: Be informed about what can happen.
In California, we’re up to speed about the threat of fires and earthquakes, as Kansas would be with tornado safety. But all over the U.S., we should be prepared for terrorist threats (especially after our day of remembrance yesterday), plus natural and manmade emergencies. It’s good to familiarize yourself with the potential threats out there (zombie apocalypse, anyone?), because being aware of what can happen will prepare you to know how to react in an emergency. Go to Ready.gov to learn more, so you can be ready for the unexpected.
Tip #4: Don’t be selfish, and help get your community prepared.
If a terrorist attack hits Orange County or San Onofre melts down like Fukushima, we’re all in this together. After preparing yourself and your family for possible emergencies, look outside your own home and learn more about Citizen Corps, which actively involves citizens in making our communities and nation safer and better prepared. This group is very active in helping people prepare, train and volunteer in their communities. But if your neighbor turns into a zombie, don’t mess around. Get the shotgun.
Need help in your preparations? Or is this blog too late, and your Orange County home has suffered a fire or flood? Give us a call. We’ll get you sorted out in no time.