Having lived most of my adult life on the West Coast of the US, the probability of a major earthquake has not been an if but a when proposition. The same can be said for residents of the East Coast; simply change the word “earthquake” to “hurricane”. For middle America, there are tornados. The point is that regardless of where you live, there is a risk of a natural disaster happening in your own backyard. It is simply a matter of when.
Are you ready? The most likely answer to that question is sure, kind a sort a. Most of us are well prepared for some aspects of a natural disaster but not so much the others. For example, I would expect that your water heater is strapped to the wall, shut-off valves for utilities are accessible well marked, and you have stashed away a reasonable supply of food, water, cash, and other essential items that may be needed following a major disruptive event of the Mother Nature type.
While It is common sense to shut off utilities and call your loved ones following a disaster, but what if there is devastation, destruction, and shock, panic or both? What then? I suggest you create a post-disaster to-do list and tape it inside a closet next to your bug-out-bag or emergency first aid kit.
To help you get started, I am sharing my own “no-brainer, I am too panicked to think”, to do list. You will see that this list is within the context of an earthquake because I am most familiar with that type of disaster. Use it as a starting point for creating a checklist more specific to the probable and likely disasters in your geographical area.
What to Do After an Earthquake (or Other Natural Disaster)
Expect aftershocks. These secondary shockwaves are usually less violent than the main quake but can be strong enough to do additional damage to weakened structures and can occur in the first hours, days, weeks, or even months after the quake.
Listen to a battery-operated radio. Listen for the latest emergency information.
Use the telephone only for emergency calls. This also applies to cell phones.
Open cabinets cautiously. Beware of objects that can fall off shelves.
Stay away from damaged areas. Stay away unless your assistance has been specifically requested by police, fire, or relief organizations. Return home only when authorities say it is safe.
Be aware of possible tsunamis if you live in coastal areas. These are also known as seismic sea waves (mistakenly called “tidal waves”). When local authorities issue a tsunami warning, assume that a series of dangerous waves is on the way. Stay away from the beach.
Help injured or trapped persons. Remember to help your neighbors who may require special assistance such as infants, the elderly, and people with disabilities. Give first aid where appropriate. Do not move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of further injury. Call for help.
Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches, gasoline or other flammable liquids immediately. Leave the area if you smell gas or fumes from other chemicals.
Inspect the entire length of chimneys for damage. Unnoticed damage could lead to a fire.
Check for gas leaks. If you smell gas or hear blowing or hissing noise, open a window and quickly leave the building. Turn off the gas at the outside main valve if you can and call the gas company from a neighbor’s home. If you turn off the gas for any reason, it must be turned back on by a professional.
Look for electrical system damage. If you see sparks or broken or frayed wires, or if you smell hot insulation, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. If you have to step in water to get to the fuse box or circuit breaker, call an electrician first for advice.
Check for sewage and water lines damage. If you suspect sewage lines are damaged, avoid using the toilets and call a plumber. If water pipes are damaged, contact the water company and avoid using water from the tap.
Execute a predetermined plan to meet-up with children, spouses and other family members. Have meet-up plan in the event you are separated from family members when disaster hits.
And don’t forget the following:
Keep a list of emergency numbers handy. This should be posted directly inside your closet or wherever else you will have ready access to in the event of a natural disaster. Keep a copy in your bug-out bag too.
Keep a printed cell phone and email listing of family members. You will want to contact family members as soon as communication lines become available for non-emergency use. The last thing you want to do is scramble around looking for numbers, especially if you need to leave your home or office in order to move to a safer location.
Be aware that texting may be the only form of communication available: Know enough to be proficient at texting under stress even though you may not text on a normal, day-to-day basis.
It is easy to get caught up preparing for a major disruptive event such as an EMP, extended power outage, pandemic, or global economic collapse. On the other hand, knowing what to in the hours following a natural disaster is equally important if not more so due to it’s unpredictable nature.
And that, for now, is all I am going to say about that.
The Final Word
Does it seem odd to you that I write about earthquake readiness while, at the moment, I am on the road to Arizona? If you think about it, however, perhaps it is not so odd. Any time you relocate, whether temporarily or for the long-term, some thought should be given to creating a geographically and risk specific emergency checklist you can refer to at a moment’s notice that is. In my case, it will likely be wildfire and drought related, the details of which will be fine-tuned when I reach my destination.
How about you? Do you have a regionally specific emergency and disaster checklist? If not, what are you waiting for?
Here are some items that will come in handy during the period a few of the items I included also with other items that will help you become disaster ready.
iRonsnow Dynamo Emergency Solar Hand Crank Self-Powered AM/FM/NOAA Weather Radio, LED Flashlight, Smart Phone Charger & Power Bank: This unit has it all in one portable package. It can be also be powered using 3 AAA batteries. This is a great value.
LifeStraw Personal Water Filter: The LifeStraw is considered the most advanced, compact, ultra light personal water filter available. It contains no chemicals or iodinated resin, no batteries and no moving parts to break or wear out. It weighs only 2oz. making it perfect for the prepper. For more information, see my LifeStraw review.
Choetech 19W Solar Panel: This lightweight and compact solar panel works great. The two integrated USB ports are both rated equally so you do not have to fiddle around to see which one will work with your device. Learn more: Charge Your Devices With the Choetech Portable Solar Panel.
EasyAcc Monster 20000mAh Power Bank: This is a robust power bank that can be charged from your laptop, a wall charger, or a solar charger. This one is beefy, with 4 USB ports that can be used at once. It also appears to hold its charge for a long time. I charged mine up then set it aside for a couple of months, When I pulled it out of its box, it was still fully charged. A nice unit that comes in very handy when power is out.
Nokero N233 Solar Light: I first heard about these solar lights from a reader a few years back. Now that I have tested them, I am impressed by the amount of light they give off as well their sturdy construction. I especially like how they hold a charge for 12 months, meaning your can store them fully charged and can count on them to work during an unexpected emergency.
Tac Force TF-705BK Tactical Assisted Opening Folding Knife 4.5-Inch Closed: This is a great knife with free shipping. Not only that, it is ranked as the #1 best seller in both the camping and hunting knives categories. The reviews raved about this knife so I bought one, used it, and can recommend it. See The Inexpensive Tac-Force Speedster Outdoor Knife.
Light My Fire Swedish FireSteel: This “Scout” is the one I own. Using this basic pocket fire-starter, you can get a nice fire going under almost any conditions. This is a small, compact version and is my personal favorite.
BaoFeng UV5R Dual-Band Two-Way Radio: I own two of these. Something to keep in mind that if you are just planning to listen, you do not need a license. Still, it is a good idea because it will make understanding the technical aspects of HAM radio a whole lot easier.