At 3:20 a.m. on Sunday, August 24, 2014 we were suddenly shaken out of a sound sleep as our bed transformed into a wild carnival ride. For what seemed like eternity the abrupt shocks of the Napa quake felt and sounded like a car repeatedly slamming into the side of the house. It knocked over lamps, toppled pictures and moved furniture. As it turned out we were less then 10 miles from the quake center and were very lucky as our only losses were a flower vase, a candle holder and 4 beer bottles from my bottle collection. However closer to the epicenter in the city of Napa many weren’t as lucky as some homes and businesses were red tagged and quite a few older chimneys bit the dust.
After living in California for 38 years, I’ve experienced many small tremors but only 2 major earthquakes. The 6.0 Napa quake and the 6.9 Loma Prieta quake in 1989, each one different from the other in it’s motion and length yet both destructive. The thing about when a disaster strikes, you are never really ready for it but you can be prepared for it and can increase your chances of survival by putting together a survival chest just like many workplaces have. I know Survival Chest sounds worse than it really is, the truth is earthquakes don’t make appointments and can strike at any time and odds are you may never have to use the contents of your survival chest, but you never know how severe and wide spread a disaster will be. When Loma Prieta hit, the Marina section of San Francisco was hit pretty hard while other areas had slight to no damage. Where I live, 35 miles Northeast of San Francisco we felt a slight rolling sensation with no damage at all but the Bay Bridge lost an upper section.
This can be a fun family project and learning experience for you and the kids. It’s also a great opportunity for a team building exercise for a company or safety committee or if your are In the process of forming a safety committee. It’s always best to be prepared and have a plan that the entire family knows to follow and should be based on the worse case scenario for your location. How isolated would you be? Are there bridges? Are you within city limits or in the country? First Responders may not be able to get to your location for quite some time as they will tackle high priority emergencies first so you should plan on 72 – 96 hours before all utilities and services are restored and help can get to you. Through brain storming create a list of items you think are needed and the quantities for the number of people that will be depending on this chest and don’t forget to include your furry friends as well.
What is suggested to be included for your survival chest for those days without electricity and running water? A portable radio, flashlights, batteries, bottled water, food (if you include canned goods make sure to include a can opener), candles, matches or other fire starter, blankets, warm clothes, sleeping bags, first aid kit, pet food. What else would you include for your survival? I would also include a wrench in the chest so you can shut off the gas and/or water lines if needed.
Make sure to keep an inventory of what’s in the chest and what items if any have expiration dates and when to replace and that responsibility can be rotated among the family. Also designate a meet area so you know everyone who was in the house or apartment is out. You can use this for all emergencies. Also remember in the event of an emergency phone traffic will be crazy. People trying to call loved ones that they are fine and safe and people trying to call those impacted by the disaster to see if they are fine and safe not to mention the possibility of downed cell towers. It maybe good to plan on calling a little while after the disaster.
Then you can also decide where to keep the chest and who in the case of the workplace, holds the key to it. In a recent survey conducted by Staples’ only half of employees felt their company is prepared for a disaster. I’m sure it’s even more for households. Put your employees and family at ease, and make sure you’re ready for that unexpected disaster.