Monday, July 27, 2009

Let's get it started

When looking at the many things to do to get your home and family disaster prepared, it can at times seem overwhelming. Many people have said to me, “Hey JJ, that’s too much for me to do. Besides, what good will it do if the earthquake is as large as predicted?”
A famous proverb says…: “A journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step.” The important thing to do is to take the first step. Here are some suggestions to help you and your family get that first step in motion. Remember, you can’t take the second step without taking the first.

Experts say, when disaster strikes, most people will be in one of three places. People will be home, work or in route to or from home and work. For children and college students, you can replace work with school. With a desired healthy sleep goal of at least eight hours, the odds of being either in bed or in your bedroom are significant. Remember, the 1994 Northridge Earthquake hit at 4:31 AM on a holiday weekend. Many Angelino’s where jarred out of their slumber to the crude reality that despite years of warning, they where not prepared.
I challenge you. Do not allow the day to end…this day…today, without taking the most important step in the preparedness journey…the first step.
Take an old plastic shopping bag and place three things inside.
1.) A pair of walking shoes.- In the aftermath of the 1994 Northridge Earthquake, many people failed to put on shoes and subsequently cut the soles of their feet on broken glass, ruble and debris. If any of these victims had diabetes, these cuts left unattended, could become infected and tragically end up with amputation. The simple act of putting on shoes could prevent significant injuries.
2.) Flashlights/Batteries- Store the batteries in a dry place and monitor the date you purchased your flashlights and batteries. There are some great alternative power source flashlights that are “crank” or “solar” powered you may consider. Make sure that what ever you have, that it is safe and in proper working condition. (Money saving/Earth friendly tip…buy your fresh batteries during the holiday season. Many retailers put batteries on sale to attract more customers. These sales mean increased saving for you when rotating your batteries in your families disaster supplies. When you buy the new batteries, label and date them and place them in your disaster supplies. Use the older batteries from your disaster supplies for your current regular battery needs. This way you minimize waste and maximize energy and value. Always remember to dispose of your batteries in a safe and approve way that is earth friendly.)
3.) Whistle- A whistle is an inexpensive and effective way of calling for help. The first 24 hours after a disaster is crucial in the recovery efforts of first responders. Citizens who arm themselves with this simple device can call for help. If yelling and screaming causes you to loose your voice, a whistle may be what USAR (Urban Search and Rescue) teams hear when searching for survivors.

Place this bag someplace so that if the disaster comes while you are sleeping or in your bedroom, you can have the simple and basic tools needed to increase your survivability. Some suggested places are under your bed, hanging from your bedpost, bedroom doorknob…just remember, you want to be able to get it as close to where you sleep as possible so you have high accessibility.
While there are no absolute preparedness tips that will save everybody, there are many tips that increase your survivability as well as increase your disaster IQ.

Some additional tips you may consider is having a battery operated radio in your nightstand. Check your local area and find radio stations will broadcast emergency information post disaster. It is important in the hours after an emergency that you are able to gather accurate and confirmed facts so that you are able to make the best decisions and safe plans for your family. Emergency broadcasts will share areas of high impact/epicenter, scope of damage, forecast for additional concerns and relief efforts as well as Red Cross and shelter information.

Under my mattress I have a crowbar. This crowbar does not disturb my sleep and is placed near the foot of my bed. In the event of a need to evacuate and the disaster has damaged my home, this crowbar allows me to have the ability to pry open my bedroom door, break open my window safely, go through dry wall and protect my family.
I have incorporated all of the above tips for less then $25. Taking this first step and making this minimal investment will give you priceless peace of mind. It is an incredible feeling when you see your family grow in their preparedness and everybody is empowered.

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