Earthquake Preparation

quake 2_thumb.jpgPreparing for the Unexpected
As Californians, earthquakes, flooding, wildland fires and rolling blackouts have become fairly common occurrences. September 11, 2001 brought with it a whole new set of potential threats and terminology for us to be aware of. Weapons of mass destruction, anthrax, bioterrorism, nuclear, chemical and radiological incidents and their subsequent impact are new threats we must become familiar with and prepare for.

In these uncertain times, it is even more critical that people are informed and aware of the potential threats that exist so they can prepare and react accordingly. The threat of biological, chemical, nuclear and radiological events are very real, so is the ongoing possibility of any earthquake, flood or wildland fire. Basic preparedness steps are the same for all of these incidents.

Basic Preparedness
Basic preparedness steps include storing one-gallon of water per day per person for a 72 hour period of time. Non-perishable food, flashlight, portable radio, extra batteries, garbage bags, scissors, plastic sheeting, duct tape, and supplies for special needs (baby food, diapers, medication, pet food, eyeglasses, etc.), a small amount of cash and so on are examples of what else should be included in your kit. You may want to put together a more substantial kit for your family and a smaller "to go" kit for your car or workplace. It is important to remember to rotate your supplies every six months to ensure everything is in working order and available.

Communications Plan
Develop a family communications plan. Select a family member or friend that lives outside of your immediate area. Inform the rest of your family that in the event of an incident, you will contact this family member or friend with information regarding your situation. Other family members should then make it a point to contact your designated family member to obtain information on your situation rather than calling you at a time when phone service will be taxed or not available at all. If you have children, make sure you are familiar with their school response plan. Find out how they plan to communicate with families during an emergency. Ensure that your emergency contact information is up to date, including alternate individuals that can pick up your children in the event you are unable to get there right away.

Workplace Evacuation Plan
If you are an employer, make sure your workplace has an evacuation plan and that you have supplies on hand in the event that your employees cannot go home right away. Make sure you have several people who are familiar with the various systems within your facility, heating and air conditioning, power, water, etc. It is important that people know how these function and how they can be turned off if necessary. Most importantly, be informed about potential threats. The threat of biological, chemical, nuclear or radiological events are very real. Everyone should make the effort to learn the facts about these threats so they can prepare and react accordingly.

Terrorist Attack
A biological attack is the deliberate release of germs or other biological substance that can make you sick. These agents are typically inhaled, enter the body through a cut in the skin, or are eaten. Anthrax and smallpox are examples of biological threats. Public health officials will provide information as soon as possible on what you should do in the event of a biological incident. Listen to TV or radio for official news and instructions. A chemical attack is the deliberate release of a toxic gas, liquid or solid that can poison people and the environment. Signs of a chemical attack are many people suffering from watery eyes, twitching, choking, difficulty breathing and loss of coordination. Sick or dead birds, fish or small animals are also cause for suspicion. Consider whether is appropriate to evacuate your immediate area or "shelter in place". Again, TV or radio can provide information on appropriate action to take.

A nuclear blast is an explosion with intense light and heat, a damaging pressure wave and widespread radioactive material that can contaminate the air, water and ground for miles around. Time, distance and shielding can help reduce your exposure to this type of risk. A radiological incident or "dirty bomb" creates similar risks, although the attack itself is over a targeted more localized area. Time, distance and shielding are once again your best approach to minimizing your exposure to such an incident.

The probability, type and location of a terrorist attack is unpredictable at best. It is also important to recognize that it is possible for people to over react to an event with no terrorist implications what so ever. We cannot stress enough the importance of people being informed, being prepared and staying calm, whatever the incident might be. For additional information you can visit numerous sites on the world wide web. Some of these sites are: Department of Homeland Security, and, Red Cross,, Centers for Disease Control, and the City of South San Francisco,