With the recent earthquake in Japan lingering in everyone's mind and the nearby 3.3-magnitude tremor on Sunday near Malibu, we are reminded once again that "the big one" could strike at any time.
That's why Calabasas Patch has compiled a short refresher of steps to take following an emergency complete with links and phone numbers to save.
Make sure you have all your important phone numbers, account numbers, serial numbers for all valuables, insurance policy numbers and things you would normally access in your computer in a notebook you can keep with you anytime. Clean out unnecessary junk from the house; organize your garage, label all boxes, get waterproof containers that can store extra blankets, useful clothing, socks and footwear, basics like soap and extra clean towels; ample charcoal for outdoor cooking, candles and matches, photos, books, valued ephemera.
Same for the pantry. Make sure you have an area where you keep food designated for emergency supplies and drinking water for at least three days per person.
Bolt down and secure to the wall studs your water heater, central A/C and/or furnace as well as gas appliances. Install flexible pipe fittings to avoid gas or water leaks. Flexible fittings are more resistant to breakage.
Make sure you have the needed tools in a toolbox to turn off water and gas valves. If possible have an automatic gas shut-off valve installed that is triggered by strong vibrations. Important papers and documents should be together in a fireproof box; make copies of everything and store somewhere else safely. Invest in high quality thick plastic trash bags and set aside for emergency use, they will be indispensable if you have to pack quickly and run out of suitcases or boxes. Buy disposable air masks and sturdy waterproof gloves.
Have a well-stocked first-aid kit and keep it refreshed once a year. Buy inexpensive baby wipes and a large hand sanitizer to keep in the house at all times. Have some cash in the house at all times to purchase items immediately after an event. Keep a container of different sized fresh batteries. Invest in a solar and hand-crank radio.
Make sure you have a family plan where you can reunite after the earthquake. Transportation may be disrupted because of damaged roads. Agree on alternate meeting places near work or schools. Know the policy of your local schools concerning release of children after an earthquake. Work out an emergency contact list of neighbors you trust to watch out for your family and property in case you are out of town. Have a plan of action mapped out with your closest out-of-state relatives in case of widespread power and phone outages, in case they cannot reach you.
2. Calm after the event
Take an inventory of any injuries. Secure animals safely. Aftershocks can happen quickly, so keep away from any compromised buildings, streetlights, and utility wires. Check to see if there is cell phone access and call your out-of-state contact to give them the news, and to keep you informed of any news in case of power outage. Phones run out of battery life, so timeliness is crucial.
Connect with neighbors as soon as possible. Stay off the roads and out of the way of law enforcement and first responders doing their work. Keep together as a family if possible. After a large quake, the threat of tsunami is real; if you live in coastal areas, get to higher ground immediately away from the beach. For fire threat, observe all evacuation orders issued by the fire department and the sheriffs.
3. Plan of action: Contact your insurance company and FEMA's emergency line as soon as you can.
Apply online by visiting www.fema.gov or by phone by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) (hearing/speech impaired ONLY—call 1-800-462-7585). In addition to having a pen and paper, please have the following information ready:
• Your Social Security Number.
• A description of your losses that were caused by the disaster.
• Insurance information.
• Directions to your damaged property.
• A telephone number where you can be contacted.
4. Circle back and check neighbors, proceed with caution.
After a major quake, move slowly; do not be quick to jump in a car to survey damage. Roads can be severely damaged and bridges compromised, so conserve precious gasoline and use bicycles or walk to neighbors’ homes, make notes. Get names and share information.
Make sure to layer warmer clothes and sturdy shoes on everyone in the family. If you have prepared for the worst, and you know where your important things are and you have on you at all times your invaluable notebook of all your important numbers and notes made after talking with FEMA and your insurance company, your peace of mind will be stronger.
5. Don't despair, remain positive and help those who are not as prepared as you are.
Everything outside of human and animal life can be replaced or repaired. Knowing exactly who your neighbors are makes the sting of sudden loss more bearable, especially if power is out for days. Humor and simple human connectivity in situations of shared misery are great stress relievers, and helps everyone cope with the tremendous and overwhelming events.
Do not underestimate the power of these suggestions. Being prepared to the best of your ability for any disasters is good citizenship. Be good examples of strength and focused calm for children.
Register for L.A. County Alerts: http://portal.lacounty.gov/wps/portal/alertla
Tune in to AM 1630 on your car radio for City of Calabasas emergency broadcast information.
Listen to KNX 1070 AM and KFWB 980 AM radio stations for regional emergency alert information for the Los Angeles County area.
Ham radios are often the primary method of communication following a disaster.
CERP Radio Team "CalHam."
The city of Calabasas has an amateur radio station "CalHam," which community members who are CERP, CERT & FCC licensed, test the system on a weekly basis. During an emergency, neighborhood information/status reports would be forwarded to the City's Emergency Operations Center.
Disaster Communications Service (DCS)
The city of Calabasas is linked via amateur radio to the local Los Angeles County Disaster Communication Service (DCS). The Lost Hills Emergency Communications Team is the local chapter of DCS and is registered to as a civil defense organization under the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES). The team's primary purpose is to supply emergency communications for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and the City of Calabasas. Members are volunteer amateur radio operators that supply their talent and equipment in times of crisis.
American Red Cross provides a checklist of emergency supplies and task planning for use by schools and organizations -- make sure you're in compliance and have the resources you need.
Centers for Disease Control created this Emergency Preparedness and Response site to educate and protect the community against toxic agents, diseases and other threats to health and safety.
FEMA has created "Are You Ready?", a step-by-step guide to disaster preparedness -- from learning about local emergency plans, to identifying hazards to maintaining communications and supplies.
And remember the most important phone number, 911.