June 3, 2008

Emergency! What's the Plan?

It's fire season in Southern California again. Plus, we are years overdue on the gigantic earthquake that is supposed to decimate Los Angeles. So when I got an email asking me to create an emergency plan for my family, I sat up and took note. A few years ago I asked my husband what the plan would be if we got hit with a major earthquake. "We'd go to my parents' house," he replied.
"Your parents live 700 miles away," I said.
"We'll walk."

And that's been the extent of our plan up until now. But the State of California has put together a really cool site where you can go to assess your risk and create a detailed emergency plan for your family. Don't think you need to do this? Well just ask yourself if you and your partner both know the answer to these questions:

  • Who is your local, non-family emergency contact?
  • Who is your out of state contact?
  • Where is your designated local meeting place in case you can't go back home?
  • Where is your designated regional meeting place in case your town is a disaster area?
  • Do you know your children's school or preschool phone numbers and address in case emergency strikes during a school day?
  • Does everyone in your family know the phone numbers of your pharmacy, health insurance, physician and/or homeowners insurance?

I hadn't though about a lot of these. And I live in an area where disaster isn't a question, it's inevitable. But even my brother in law who lives in the Chicago area was woken up in the middle of the night this April by a 5.2 magnitude earthquake. In Chicago. Who saw that coming?

The site also gives some really good tips such as:

  • Send a copy of your plan to your emergency contacts and parents so that in case of emergency, they know where to look for you as well.
  • Duplicate important documents such as birth certificates, insurance documents, deeds, and store with your emergency kit.
  • Find out what emergency plan is at your child's school so you know where to go to find them in case the school is affected.

So I really encourage everyone to fill out the disaster plan whether or not you live in California. The site also provides wallet sized cards with your most important emergency numbers. Your cell phone may be out of batteries just when you need your contact numbers so make sure to have something written down. Just a tip, print out the form before you complete it - I had the form reset on me twice when I attempted to fill it out online. Then MAKE SURE to give copies of it to your emergency contacts and family members. There is also a book you can customize and print out that helps teach your kids about dealing with emergencies, but honestly, who has the printer ink for that. But do have a frank discussion with them about what to do in an emergency.

Has anyone been in a large-scale disaster before? Were you prepared? What would have done differently? I've lived here for four years now and still haven't felt a big quake but every day I get more and more nervous about what I'm due. Sorry to be so preachy today, but get prepared, people!


Lucy said...

When I was on my mission in Southern Cal a couple of years ago, my eyes (and ears) were opened widely. I never heard so many emergency preparing talks in my life. They'd have meetings to plan meeting about earthquake preparedness. I never did anything to prepare while I was there but were I to live there, it could possibly be a whole different story.

Hollywood said...

Amen, Lucy. A few months ago we had a lesson in church about emergency prep. and the teacher made the comment that if you shopped for ketchup at Costco, you could probably survive for two weeks off of one bottle. I don't think she was even joking but I was so taken aback that I immediately stood up and left the class. I just can't bring myself to think like that. It's WAY too stressful and I'm not quite emotionally mature enough to plan all those kinds of contingencies.

Amber said...

We've got substantial 72 hour kits, enough rice and beans that we could live on that (and you can survive on just that) for a year. We've also got other food though. ;)
is a really good, detailed calculator. We're working diligently towards meeting that goal. We're working on getting more water as well.

We have a basic emergency plan- but I need to print out those card and add them to our 72-hour kits- I'm pretty sure the phone numbers in ours are outdated.

I think if there were an emergency and we were 'on the move' for 3 days or less we'd be fine. If there were an emergency and we were homebound I think we'd also be okay. If there were an earthquake (our largest likely natural disaster where we live)and our home burned down we'd have to rely on the goodness of our neighbors. But that doesn't really stress me out- they're pretty nice. ;)

I've never been in a large scale natural disaster though- so maybe I'm underestimating our abilities and preparedness levels.

Good post!

Perla said...

thanks for this! i am going to fill out the disaster sheet. and i finally started getting some food storage and its amazing how much better i feel. i used to feel so sick to my stomach whenever anybody talked about getting prepared because i knew i wasn't. but now, just a little bit of work and at least i know my kids won't go hungry. when andre came home from haiti, he had major food issues and would cry the whole time i fed him as he gulped his food down. he was so terrified that each meal would be his last and that he would still be hungry. i remember soothing him and saying, 'i promise, i will ALWAYS feed you, you will never starve again! i promise!' and then i felt sick because i wondered what if something happened and i couldn't keep my promise. but now that i've tried just a tiny bit i already feel fine about everything and will do more. anywho...long response! we don't have a disaster plan with all those contacts, only that if there is a fire in the night we will meet at the mailbox. good thing we don't live in cali. grace is TERRIFIED of anything to do with fire and she created that plan for us. :)

S'mee said...

Thanks Hollywood!

A while back I was contacted by the one of the top team members at CA. Volunteers regarding my blog. (I blog every Tuesday on self reliance and emergency prep. We are currently building no/low cost 72 hr. kits.)

Anywho, the website can be a bit cluttered, but I can't recommend it enough! PLEASE everyone, take the time to go through their links, they have terrific info for every one, not just those of us in CA.

Click on the links here and have a great time searching!

Do one thing each week to prepare. Don't get so overwhelmed that it paralyzes you into postponing your preparedness.

Don't worry, just do one thing!
Add one extra meal in the cart. One extra blanket to the cupboard. Etc.
(Ideas at my place if you want/need them.)

Kels said...

Our big thing here in San Antonio is flooding. In the past 8 years I think we've had 3 or 4 major floods. I've always been very cautious about the whole "turn back" thing that they push here in town... and most people are largely because you get a ticket if you drive through a flooded road and get stuck!

The only preparation we've put into this is having extra food in the deep freeze and extra canned/dry food. We're not in immediate danger at our home (other than having extremely squishy lawns for a good while). Although, one year (this was about 4 years ago) I was trying to get to class for a test I was having out on campus, and I eventually had to turn back and come home... unfortunately the entrance ramp onto the highway I took was very steep and a lot of water was rushing downwards... it actually pulled my anti-lock brake system cable off one side and the cable was dangling from the back of my car the rest of the way home!

I'm hoping that we don't have torrential rain for an entire month like last year's July... that would REALLY be a bummer and it's not something I want to deal with again so soon!

melanie said...

You can come stay with me, but I know you hate Ann Arbor ;-)

Adrienne said...

Man, we've been lax in emergency prep, too. Let me tell ya, that 5.2? Was a jarring awakening. Francis and I were all "why is the bed moving? and what the hell is that noise?" followed by Francis's stock south Texas hypothesis for unexpected noises and vibrations: Refinery explosion.

I'll tell you, though, I spend a lot of time in the IU Geological Survey, and were they excited...

Emma said...

So serious. Thank you for the reminder. I need to make our 72 hour kits and the cards are a great idea. We are working on our food storage, our old ward and new ward are really good about going to the cannery every couple months which helps motivate us. We are moving to tornado alley and I am a little nervous with all the storms in the last month. Thanks again for the reminder or kick in the rear. :)

Irishmama said...

Great idea...but sounds like a lot of work. I'll revisit this post this weekend and check out the link.

We don't get many earthquakes here in PA, but there is always some disaster looming, I'm sure. thanks

Kate said...

This is fabulous information to have. I know we haven't even thought of stuff like this, and we live in hurricane country. Thank you for sharing!

Jessica G. said...

Some people up the street from us have a massive RV. It's name? "Our 72-Hour Kit."

Kate said...

remember Katrina? nope i wasn't in New Orleans. Remember Rita, the monster that never was? I was here, in Houston, idling. It was supposed to hit Houston square on by saturday so I started looking for hotels out of the city on wednesday. we live in southeast houston about 5 miles from the bay so we figured we would be blown to smithereens. on wednesday, a full 3 days before any thing MIGHT happen the hotels were booked from here to arkansas!! ridiculous! So some old family friends invited us to caravan out with them. we left wednesday at about 5 pm. at 9:30 we were about 15 minutes from our house and realized we hadn't packed any food. i figured places would be open. wrong! we finally found a dairy queen with questionable hygiene that was trying to cook away all their perishables. that was our last meal before we arrived at our destination ( about 2 1/2 hours away ) more than 20 hours.later ( i did have a few snacks ) All told we idled for a little over 23 hours and actually drove the other 3 at a speed of more than 30 mph. we were a five car caravan ( one full of puking dogs with no AC ). in our car alone we had 1 dog ( nonpuking ), two cats ( severely pissed ) and our 2 year old daughter ( an amazing little traveler ). all on less than half a tank of gas. we spent a week at our friends' lake house. all.of.us. 8 adults, 4 dogs, 2 cats and a 2 year old in a 3 bedroom lake house. for.a.week. when we returned, our fence had been knocked down. the neighbors that stayed said they had been without power for almost a.whole.hour. needless to say, unless it's the big one and i can already feel the breeze, i'm not climbing in that car.

Bridget said...

Hollywood, Thanks for this!

One warning, though, for those of you who are filling out the linked disaster plan (which is really great, btw): I'm not sure if this is a Mac thing or what, but when I stupidly followed a link within the document, I lost everything I had typed into the document.

I live near Yosemite in California which is a high risk wildfire area. We even had a hard time getting homeowners insurance. Most of our neighbors who have lived here longer than us have been evacuated due to fires multiple times. I have felt strongly impressed that we need to get evacuation bags ready to go for this summer. And, after 10 years of marriage, are finally getting somewhere on our year's supply.

There is such a genuine feeling of peace when you know you have done what you can to prepare, or are at least working toward it.

Beeswax said...

I was in Northridge the morning of the Northridge quake in 1993(?). It wasn't huge, but at the epicenter, it shook us pretty hard. After the first 2 after shocks, we went into my friend's motor home and stayed there. It is nice to be on wheels when the gound is shaking. Some people had NO food in the fridge. NONE. And every gas station within 20 miles was shut down for fear of leaks. I got to LAX on fumes from a nice lady I didn't much know, and got the second flight out that day (not before another after shock at the airport knocked me on my rear.)

Even minor disasters shut stuff down. You have to have supplies on hand. You have to have a plan.

Getting word out on jammed cell lines was a huge problem. It was easier to reach people far away than close by.

The Parker Family said...

you've totally inspired me. I've always been afraid of being stuck somewhere in a disaster without my glasses (contacts only last so long, and I'm blind). But maybe I should think about disaster planning beyond lasik. I am a responsible mom of 4 now, right?