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Front Page » February 10, 2004 » Local News » Are you Prepared?
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Are you Prepared?

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Staff Writer

Castle Dale Stake Holds Emergency Preparedness Fair

The Castle Dale Fire Department displays information about fire safety and prevention.

On the evening of Jan. 30, Castle Dale Stake hosted an emergency preparedness fair which offered speakers and booths to assist the residents in learning the basics of being prepared in the event of an emergency. These emergencies can come from natural disasters, power outages, wildfires or any other cause that would disrupt the lives of many people. Karen Huntsman organized the event.

Maralin Hoff was the first speaker for the evening. She is also known as "The Earthquake Lady." Hoff works for the State of Utah Department of Public Safety, Division of Emergency Services and Homeland Security. "Emergencies can come in many forms," she said. "They can be natural disasters, fires, ice storms or earthquakes. Did you know that Utah has more than 1,500 earthquakes each year?"

Hoff went on to explain that Utah has hundreds of small earthquakes every year. This is a good thing to have happen as it releases the pressure and may cause the "Big One" to be delayed for some time. Although, Utahns should not become complacent because there will be a big earthquake eventually.

"I don't want to frighten you, but prepare you," Hoff said. "If a family is prepared, they can keep themselves from serious harm and financial hardship in the aftermath of a disaster. California is the King of Earthquakes and Utah is learning fast."

Hoff had six emergency kits displayed. Each kit was fully laid out with all of the contents labeled. Every kit on display had been made from scratch with items taken from around the house and each was made for the least amount of money. The first kit she talked about was the kit for the babies in families. She stressed that the mother should not have a separate kit for the baby, but the diaper bag that is carried every day should have the necessary items.

"We need to talk more open and more honestly about disasters. We need to have plans and every member of the family should know every part of the plan. The more you know what to do-the better you will fare in a disaster," Hoff said.

The first thing to do after the shaking of an earthquake stops, is to comfort the children. Oftentimes, adults are so upset that they do not realize how important it is to comfort children who have just been through the same ordeal. In making preparedness part of your life, remember to consider the soothing words to calm everyone in the aftermath of a disaster.

Plan for every situation. When considering the steps to take during an emergency, a person should consider all aspects of his life and what could be done at each moment if a disaster should happen at that time or location. An emergency kit should be available in each place that a person spends time during the day, in the office, in the car or in the home. Children should be taught to 'duck and cover' during an emergency if the disaster should happen while at school.

The first step to consider is the type of container for the emergency kit. Some ideas would be backpacks, rolling luggage, buckets or boxes. Hoff recommended that whatever type of container is selected, that it have wheels for ease of transport.

Ready made kits are expensive, so Hoff recommended that people use items from around the house which can reduce the cost of the kits. Personal items, such as medication and clothing, for each person who will be using the kit, should be included. Extra batteries for hearing aids, flashlights and radios, should also be included and rotated faithfully.

Clothing should be packed in zip lock type plastic bags. If a dryer sheet is placed inside the bags with the clothing, the clothes will not become stale smelling. Towels and toiletries can also be placed in plastic bags.

Kits that are for the home should include items for every member of the family and should grow with the family. The clothing needs to be replaced as children grow, and if the size of the family should expand. Another item that should be included in every kit is one flat bed sheet. This can be used for many different things including shelter, extra bedding, clothing, or torn into pieces for bandages.

As for the food and water, MREs are a good stable storage food. They do not take up much room and come in a variety of choices. The shelf life for MREs is up to 10 years. These meals can be eaten hot or cold. Another good choice for food is freeze-dried foods.

Water storage can be easily handled with five gallon storage containers, as long as the water in the containers is changed every six months. Hoff recommends scheduling a day on the calendar to accomplish the rotation and replacement of water and batteries in the kits. She also mentioned that light colored or clear containers of water should not be stored on cement. This can easily be accomplished by placing a pallet or boards underneath the containers so they are not sitting directly on concrete.

"I suggest also putting dollar bills and a lot of quarters in your kits. You never know what may be available and you want to be equipped for any situation. Prescription drugs are another consideration. Store a week's worth in all the kits, but make sure to rotate these items along with the water and batteries," said Hoff.

Another good idea is to enclose a complete list of family and friends who may be contacted in an emergency. If a person is not able to speak for themselves, this information could prove invaluable in a medical emergency. A complete medical history, including all medication being taken and any allergies, is another good item for the kits.

Several items that everyone should have in each vehicle besides tire changing tools and a battery operated radio are a flashlight, shovel, jackets or blankets and plenty of fresh water. Hoff suggested liter bottles for storage of water in the trunk.

Hoff gave several suggestions of things that are commonly overlooked. "Each child's backpack kit should be readily accessible, probably next to their bed. Shoes should always be handy also. In your office kit, be sure to include comfortable walking shoes. Another thing to think about is a whistle in each kit. Whistles can be heard over a lot of noise and when voices cannot be heard. The one thing to remember is to teach the children that the whistles are to be used only in an emergency," said Hoff.

To conclude her presentation, Hoff showed the audience how she got her nickname, The Earthquake Lady. On display was a small model of a completely furnished house. As a tape recording of the sounds heard during an earthquake played, the house shook violently. With this demonstration, Hoff urged everyone to secure furniture, pictures, water heaters and anything else in the home that can be moved around by the shaking of an earthquake.

Sgt. Martin Wilson of the Emery County Sheriff's Office, is the coordinator for the Local Emergency Planning Committee. Sgt. Wilson stated, "Emergency services will not always be readily available in a disaster situation. If the event is too large, the emergency services will be spread very thin. People need to be prepared to handle things on their own.

"The LEPC is already working to ensure that the county will be prepared in the event of a disaster. Our goals is to have a Community Emergency Response Team from each town. These four member CERTs will be trained and ready to help. The training sessions will begin sometime in May and all the CERTs training will be complete by July.

"First responders will be trained, then we will move on to the fire department and public works employees. We would appreciate anyone who would like to be involved. We are willing to help anywhere we can," said Sgt. Wilson.

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