From the devastation of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, to the recent earthquakes in Mexico City and the Southland, it's clear that disaster can strike at any time. Our newspaper headlines, television screens and social media feeds are inundated with stories recounting the debilitating affects of Mother Nature's wrath and the rising human toll left in its wake. News of these natural disasters certainly may seem overwhelming, but it should also serve as a great motivator to counteract them, and the best way to do that is to get prepared.
While Los Angeles doesn't have to worry about hurricanes, Southern California is susceptible to earthquake catastrophes. In 1994, the Northridge earthquake resulted in the damage of 114,000 buildings, the crumbling and closure of major freeways, the death of 60 people and injury of many more. For many weeks thereafter, the lives of millions of people in this city were disrupted. Since then, Los Angeles has taken bold steps to prepare for any major earthquakes to come. We passed some of the toughest, but most important, earthquake safety rules in the nation, including laws mandating that all soft-story and vulnerable buildings be retrofitted. As a city, Los Angeles is getting prepared, but we all know too well that natural disasters can happen at any time.
That is why you, your family and your neighbors must be prepared for "the big one" today by creating an emergency preparedness plan for earthquakes and other natural disasters that may come our way.
Keep Calm and Create a Kit
Disaster readiness begins with the simple step of creating emergency supply kits. Keep a kit at home that fits your family's needs and one at work to prepare you in the event of an emergency. A basic emergency supply kit should include the following items:
- Water: one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation;
- Food: at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food;
- Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert;
- First aid kit;
- Extra batteries;
- Whistle to signal for help;
- Dust mask to help filter contaminated air, and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place;
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation;
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities;
- Manual can opener for food;
- Local maps;
- Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery; and
- Medicines and copies of important documents.
For a more extensive list of supplies to have on hand, visit www.ready.gov/build-a-kit.
Have an Emergency Plan
When disaster strikes, your family may not be together in one place, so have a plan of action. Develop a family communication plan of how you will contact one another and review what to do in different situations. Depending on your circumstance, you may need to evacuate the damaged area, so have a plan in place for your family to exit the property and head to safe and secure location.
- Manage utilities and put out small fires;
- Administer medical aid in situations that require opening airways, controlling bleeding and treating for shock;
- Provide basic medical aid;
- Perform light search and rescue for victims;
- Organize themselves and spontaneous volunteers to be effective; and
- Collect disaster intelligence to support first responder efforts.