Emergencies happen everywhere. Hurricane warnings and earthquake predictions might help but it's best to prepare ahead for natural emergencies as shown by Japan's preparation for earthquakes. People in the affected area had little warning but knew to flee to higher ground, so loss of life was significantly lower than the Indian Ocean tsunami several years ago.
Each region of the world has known risks. On the west coast of the US there are earthquakes and fires, while the southeast has hurricanes. Tornado valley stretches from northern Texas to South Dakota and the northern half of the country and Canada deals with severe storms during the winter.
This article provides an overview of things you can do to prepare your home and family for emergencies as the chart here, from EarthquakeCountry.info, shows, 4 of the 7 steps to earthquake resilience should be done before an earthquake strikes.
When we look at photographs of disaster areas, we see collapsed buildings and cars scattered in unnatural positions. California building codes have done a lot to minimize building damage and the focus here is really on the contents of your home which need to be secured to reduce the damage they cause. Florida and other coastal states with lots of hurricane activity also have building codes to minimize building damage, i.e. concrete is now preferred over stick built (wood) construction.
Many of these tips are also practical for families with small children. My first son was really good about following the rules. It wasn't until my second son, the explorer, came along, that I began to think defensively. That's when I decided it was time to secure everything to the walls, including the Christmas tree, using fishing line and small hooks hidden on the adjacent windows.
The 7 steps outlined by EarthquakeCountry.info (graphic above) include:
- Identify the potential hazards in your home and fix them now.
- Like a fire escape plan, prepare a disaster preparedness plan for your home and family.
- Prepare disaster supply kits so you're ready at a moment's notice.
- Identify weaknesses in your home's design and construction and start correcting them, i.e. when we remodeled our kitchen in California, we added plywood to the interior walls for strength in an earthquake.
- Protect yourself during an earthquake – Drop, Cover and Hold On!
- After an earthquake, check for injuries and damage.
- Once recovered from the earthquake, review and follow your earthquake preparedness plan.
We’ll dive into each of these steps in more detail in upcoming articles. In the meantime, the above will at least get you thinking about the process. Although earthquakes, hurricanes and other natural disasters are bound to happen, we can take steps to minimize the amount of damage that they cause. By being prepared with a safety plan, emergency supplies and being aware of how to react, these events are less likely to cause long term damage both materially and emotionally.