Monthly Archives: October 2011
The two 3.9 magnitude earthquakes that occurred last week along the Hayward Fault are not unexpected according to geologists and seismologist, but alarming to the majority of us who felt both earthquakes. Thankfully, they did not cause notable damage. Turkey, however, was not as lucky. Sunday’s 7.2 magnitude earthquake destroyed buildings and hundreds have lost their lives. Like us, Turkey is highly susceptible toearthquakes as it sits on major geological fault lines.
Watching the television footage is disturbing to say the least; seeing a toddler being pulled from rubble took me to a dark place as I couldn’t help but think of my own little one and prayed that if we were to experience a similarly significant earthquake, I would be able to protect him. Instead of feeling helpless (or begin planning a move to the east coast), I was inspired to research strapping our television. I immediately felt better.
Thankfully we live in a city with building codes that are lot more strict than in Turkey. The terrifying scenes we are seeing in the news probably won’t happen here, but they did in Japan last March—and that’s a culture very prepared and equipped to handle earthquakes (if they weren’t, the death toll would have been far greater). The good news is a lot can be done to prevent the damage of an earthquake. Mitigation is the mantra of many emergency managers and they are right. The word mitigation sounds daunting but it’s a lot easier than you may think (e.g., it doesn’t mean living on a house boat or packing up and heading east).
• Visit 72hours.org and assess your current supplies
• Register for San Francisco’s text-based notification system: AlertSF (go to www.alertsf.org)
• Look into becoming a trained member of San Francisco NERT
• Download DEM’s new preparedness smart phone app SF Heroes (currently for iPhone and soon to be available on Droid this spring)
• Practice drop, cover and hold, which is the safest thing to do during an earthquake (Special Note: it’s still ShakeOut season and you can conduct your own drop, cover and hold on drill within the next two weeks and be counted; go to www.shakeout.org)
• Learn how to prevent earthquake ‘messes’ by playing this game: http://www.dropcoverholdon.org/beatthequake/game)
Just DO something. We were lucky last week; Turkey was not as fortunate. Let’s take last week’s earthquakes as a call to action. You’ll enjoy peace of mind knowing you have done something to help you and your family be ready for an earthquake, or any emergency—big or small. And remember, it is a lot easier and cheaper to strap a TV than to clean up and replace a shattered one.
My job at DEM is to develop outreach strategies to promote individual and household emergency preparedness. So, I think it is a fair statement for me to say I have centered my professional life on public preparedness and resilience. But what about my personal life? I’m gonna come clean here: as a mid-thirties urban singleton, I had some extra cans of food spread throughout my tiny San Francisco-kitchen cabinets (thanks to my love of Costco), but I probably stored more bottles of wine than water. Suffice to say, my personal preparedness was at best, sloppy. I’m pink in the cheeks to admit this given my profession, but my prior shallow preparedness is all in the past. What changed for me? Motherhood. My baby was born last April and my life has changed in many ways, including preparedness. What really kicked my preparedness rear in gear was a pesky allergy that less than two percent of breastfed babies develop to cow’s milk and soy protein. For those of you who have no experience with this allergy, take it from me, it is not fun (imagine colic—squared). Thankfully he is all better due to a special hypoallergenic formula with protein broken down into tiny, tiny pieces. So small, the body doesn’t recognize the protein as an allergen. The downside of this formula (other than the price) is that the formula is not available in every store, which is what we initially experienced when my husband had to go to several stores before finally finding it at Babies R Us.
This situation got me thinking—and I mean really thinking—what if there’s an earthquake and we don’t have enough formula on hand to feed our baby? And at that moment I swore (ala Scarlett O’Hara in her “As God as my witness, I’ll never be hungry again” monologue) we would never have less than a two week supply of formula. And with that, I truly adopted preparedness into my everyday life. Now not only do we have extra formula on hand, we have the water we would need mix the powder formula should we run out of the ready to feed formula. That extra water now means my husband and I also have water to drink, cook and clean with should the unthinkable happen. The truth is we were more prepared than I realized (again, thanks in part to Costco). And it is a really good feeling knowing we’ll be set should we be without everyday resources for a while.
So, I ask you: what’s your personal preparedness incentive? I encourage you to share that incentive with those in your life. It may trigger some of your loved ones into becoming more prepared as well. Thanks for letting me share.