How prepared are you for disaster?
How to get prepared and be self-sustaining if only for a short time was discussed at the recent Emergency Preparedness Fair. Maralyn Hoff is an expert on preparing yourself for an earthquake or any other type of disaster. Hoff said she didn't start out to be an advocate for disaster preparedness, but she was getting ready to graduate and one of the requirements was she talk about a disaster. She didn't have any emergency kits, so she set out to find out more about preparedness. She said tornadoes will have a warning and tornado watchs and warnings are issued. With an earthquake there is no warning. She gave some tips of what to do in an earthquake. "Don't panic. Stay where you are and take cover. If you are outside a building, don't run in and if you are inside, don't run out. Take cover and be sure to cover your head. If you are in a grocery store, the shopping cart can become a source of protection. Take the items out of it and turn the cart over and get underneath it and use it to protect your head. Earthquakes are frightening, You can become dizzy and disoriented from the motion. The inside solid walls and corners are the safest place to be. If you are in the basement, then stay in the basement. Stairs are weak and may collapse in homes and in buildings, stay away from stairs. Check your basement windows and make sure you can get out of them if you need to. Teach everyone in the family the safe areas of your home. When an earthquake occurs and you are inside, make sure you turn your back to the windows.
"Talk to children about what to do in an earthquake and let preparedness be a part of your life. The more you talk the more you will remember and you will train your brain.
"If you are in a store when an earthquake happens, then stay away from the front of the store. Hide under your shopping basket. Do not try to run out, the front of stores are dangerous, they have large plate glass windows which will break.
"If you are in your car, then pullover. Stay away from wires and buildings. After the shaking stops, you may proceed, but remember that roads may be damaged. Be prepared to walk. Always have comfortable walking shoes in your car. If you are on a freeway, then don't abandon your vehicle. If you are on a freeway, you won't get far. If you are on a side road, then move your car off the road. If you are on a freeway, don't move into the emergency lane, it will be needed for emergency vehicles use.
"Make sure you maintain a good car kit for emergencies. You can use backpacks, tool boxes, or anything that will hold items. It doesn't have to cost a lot. Have two working flashlights in your kit. Have an umbrella. Every Christmas, I give my family something for their kits. Have a folding shovel to dig yourself out of the snow; blankets, jackets and food. Mylar space blankets work well to retain heat. A snowmobiler kept himself alive when he was stranded overnight, because he had a mylar blanket. Rotate the items in your kit. Keep a whistle in your purse and car. It can be used to alert rescuers if you become lost while hiking. Whistles are useful. Don't forget your pets, make sure their needs will be met in an emergency too," said Hoff.
Hoff always carries a band aid in her purse to remind her to be prepared. Hoff showed the audience how to make an emergency potty with kitty litter and a bucket and bags. Keep the basics in your kits and add to them what your individual families are going to need. In an emergency household kit, each family member should have their own kit. In an earthquake you will have no water and no toilet. So the emergency potties come in handy. You can take the portable potty with you if you are forced to evacuate. Prepare a food bucket. Put in food that requires no cooking or invest in a small stove.
Ron Mosher, leading expert in Homeland Security was the guest speaker. He said the leading reason we need to be prepared is to save lives. That includes your life, your family, your friends and neighbors.
"If you are not a victim then you are not part of the problem and can be part of the solution. The more prepared you are it lessens the chance of you becoming a victim. Think of it as investment, not an expenditure to get prepared. There are three types of disasters, manmade, technological and natural. There are haz-mat spills, power outages; natural disasters like flooding, earthquakes.
"It is predicted that the Salt Lake area is due for a 7.0 quake in the future. Everything is impacted. There is loss of life, loss of business; impact on the government and emergency services. Communication can be cut off. Emergency services will be overwhelmed. Can you take care of yourself for at least three days? Some disasters occur with little or no warning. Tornadoes and earthquakes are sudden, but their impacts are disastrous. What will the impact be post disaster. What are the EMS realities in your community? Who will be there to help you and your family. Your county has a limited number of resources as do all areas of the state.
"Some people in your community wear multiple hats. Small communities have a limited number of resources. A recent bus accident taxed the resources of the small county where the bus rolled over. Just one incident can tax the resources of a community. If something happens on a large scale, you may be on your own for a considerable period of time. You have to be self-sufficient. You have to be self-reliant. Everyone must prepare for a disaster. Religious organizations, businesses, everyone must prepare. Now is the time to prepare so you are ready. Are the schools in your area prepared? Are the local governments prepared? The local elected officials are accountable. What can we expect from the federal and state government. You will need at least three days of self-sufficiency before public assistance may arrive. Federal assistance may be long in coming and doesn't always bring money to help out. Do we know what to do to qualify for federal assistance? An area as large as Salt Lake would need $2.9 million in damages before the federal government will pay for public assistance. Loans may need to be paid back. As individuals we need to be prepared. Think about the effects disasters can have on the quality of life in your area. Preparedness begins at home. It begins with the individual," said Mosher.
Sheriff LaMar Guymon encourages everyone to start simple, but to get started to be prepared for any emergency which may arise.