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Are You Prepared For The Next Big One?

If you haven't already, you should put together an emergency kit at your home by following this advice on what to stock and where to get it.

In light of the devastating tsunami and earthquake in Japan a week ago, it’s worth reminding ourselves that Southern California is in a similarly precarious position—a densely-populated area situated above a large fault-line, with a 99.7 percent chance of a 6.7 magnitude or larger earthquake in the next 30 years, according to the Southern California Earthquake Center.

While Eagle Rockers don’t have to fear a tsunami, a distinct danger for L.A.’s seaside communities, preparation for the next Big One is arguably vital—and the good news is that it’s easy to take the first steps.

Apart from earthquake-proofing your house (stabilizing the structure, securing your water heater, gas mains etc.), you should prepare for the time after the quake, which is when most fatalities occur. Packing an emergency kit, be it for earthquakes or other natural disasters, can be life-saving. The federal government recommends certain items to be in an emergency kit, and Eagle Rock Patch has compiled a quick shopping list for you based on the recommendations, including a rough cost-estimate:

Water: After an earthquake, water lines may be ruptured and/or the municipal water supply may be contaminated. It is important to store a gallon a day for every person in your household for hydration and sanitation purposes. Plan enough water for about 3 days.

Remember that off-the-shelf water will only last so long—about a year, as indicated by the package’s use-by date. So either buy long-storage water or rotate your stored supply in a manner whereby you consume the oldest water first, while simultaneously adding new stores.

Food: You should keep a three-day supply of food handy—and don’t forget your pets! The food should be nonperishable, not to mention easy to eat without cooking, given that gas and electrical mains may be out for a while after a big quake—you wouldn’t want to be caught with a big supply of instant noodles without the power to cook them. And if you stock up on cans, avoid the inexperienced-camper cliché and remember to pack a can-opener.

Radios: You should keep a battery-powered or hand-crank radio in your emergency kit, as well as a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radio, which broadcasts weather conditions and warnings. Besides allowing you to follow the news and helping to occasionally take your mind off the devastation and misery around you, you would want to know of any storms headed your way, especially if you happen to be without immediate shelter.

If you want to get a NOAA radio, check out the Public Alert radio, which comes with public-warning features and is available for $29.99 at the Tritch Hardware Company. And don’t forget to stock up on batteries. Consider the Dorcy Dynamo, a hand-crank-powered flashlight and integrated radio, available for $24.99 at Tritch Hardware.

Flashlight: You should keep at least one flashlight handy, and perhaps consider stocking several. Camping lanterns also make for a good additional source of light. To go batteryless, grab a hand-crank-powered flashlight for all of $14.99 at Tritch Hardware.

First Aid Kit: Johnson & Johnson makes a first aid kit in a sturdy metal case. Available at Colorado Medical Pharmacy for $30.77.

Whistle: To signal for help. Tritch Hardware will sell you a whistle, complete with a case to keep it clean and hygienic, for just 1.99.

Dust mask: Depending on the emergency, you may face contaminated air, so keep some dust masks handy. A sturdy particulate mask runs $1.29 a piece, or $24.99 for a pack of 30. At Tritch Hardware.

Shelter Material: Consider stocking up on duct tape and plastic sheeting to build a makeshift shelter if necessary. Tritch Hardware sells s roll of duct tape for $4.49; consider either heavy duty (4-mm thick) plastic sheeting (10x25 feet) for $9.99 or a sturdier plastic tarp for $17.99.

Personal Sanitation items: Trash bags, plastic ties and moist towelettes keep you and your immediate surroundings clean and sanitary. Sturdy contractor’s trash bags cost $10.99 for 12 bags at Tritch Hardware.

Wrench or Pliers: To turn off your gas and water mains, Glenn Tritch of Tritch Hardware recommends the Earthquake Survival Tool, a dual-size (1/2” and ¾”) wrench.

Local Maps: Google Maps may be down after an emergency, so keep some hard copies of maps around to find the way to the nearest hospital, among other places.

Cell Phone: Although mobile networks may be down, for some time following an earthquake, it’s a good idea to pack a cell phone with chargers. Also consider a solar charger to be off-the-grid-prepared.

Chip March 19, 2011 at 08:12 PM
Thanks! I'd like to share some Post-Big One dining tips from a conversation I had with my neighbor: WATER: If those rumblings really are the Big One then quickly fill the bathtub, sinks and any pots & pans with water before it runs out. You don't want to be washing with your precious drinking water. FOOD: Protein bars are an excellent emergency food item. Buy a couple of boxes. Note: I recommend protein bars over granola-type bars because if you are like me you will eat all your tasty honey-granola-chocolate-chip bars in the wee hours between Letterman and a re-run of HBO's Cathouse. FOOD Part Deux: While there may be no biling water for Ramen instant noodles, back in the day my roommate - a drummer in a punk rock band - used to eat them raw like a giant dry Rice Krispie bar. I refused to partake, but come the Big One just know you CAN dine like a rock star wanna be. FOOD Part Trois: Load up on BBQ charcoal! The results may not be Bobby Flay, but it will be nicely charred. PET FOOD: I agree - don't forget them! Stock up on dry kibble and canned food for your pets! The last thing you want while blockaded in your home against the marauding hordes outside is to be feeding your precious white albacore tuna to your kitty. GARDEN & PLANTS: Spring is here - plant a vegetable garden! In the event of a Big One we plan to be on a Michele Obama approved diet of salads & fresh greens until Brownstone Pizza re-starts delivery.
Chip March 19, 2011 at 08:12 PM
More tips: GARDENS & PLANTS Part Deux: Summer's a coming! Plant some aloe pants which are great for beach sunburns & may be invaluable during an emergency. EAGLE ROCK SPECIAL: The conditions post-Big One may not be Cormac McCarthy's The Road, but it will be stressful. Since we live in LA, get a medical marijuana prescription and stash some pot away. Based on the experiences of my friends in NYC after 9-11 it will be most welcome. (But do not curse me when you get cravings for some honey-granola-chocolate chip bars...) FAMILY CONTACT: Establish one family member OUT OF STATE who will be the person your family here and eslewhere communicates to and through. Once you have alerted your family you are alive and well then you can get down to finishing off that pint of Haagen Daaz before it melts. GOOD NEIGHBORS: If you are truly concerned about the possibility of a Big One comingsoon, then it may be wise to stop sleeping in the nude because the one thing I knw from past earthquake experience is that the moments after any earthquake are when you A) meet your neighbors and B) find out what their pajamas look like.
Philipp Sander March 20, 2011 at 06:24 AM
Wow Chip, awesome tips! You have so many valid points - There are so many aspects to Earthquake Preparedness. I suggest that readers use my article only as a starting point (an easy start that can make a big difference), and continue down the path of preparing for the big one. For further reading, I suggest following links (I sourced the government recommendations from these pages): http://72hours.org/ - a site prepared by the City and County of San Francisco, which is in a similarly dangerous location. They offer lots of information and tips, although some of it is SF-specific. http://www.daretoprepare.org/ - a state of california campaign on earthquake preparedness with lots of general earthquake information. www.ready.gov - the federal government's emergency preparedness site.

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