Home Safety-Shouldn’t have to be an Escape Artist

 

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Houdini was the master of escape as no straight jacket, cell, chain or padlock could keep him trapped for very long.  However, most of us haven’t mastered the skills of Houdini and look and listen as we are made aware before takeoff the location of emergency exits, just in case.  Experts will tell you that you should always have at least two ways out in the event of an evacuation and that includes leaving your home quickly in the event of an emergency like a fire. 

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I live in a one-story house so if I’m in the bedroom and have to evacuate the building I have at least four easy ways out of the house.  The front door, a sliding glass back door, garage door, and the bedroom window.  As soon as I am out of the house and headed to the predesignated meeting area, I’m dialing 911 to report the emergency.  The meeting area is critical so you know everyone got out of the house.  It is the same thing companies do when they have to evacuate and may refer to the meeting area as the assembly area.  Either way, you want to do a head count so when the firefighters arrive they know if it’s a search and rescue or just fight the fire.

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In a two-story house, escape is a little more challenging.  If you are in a bedroom upstairs to exit the house you would need to come down to the ground floor using a staircase.  Not all homes have a front and back staircase to give you more than one way out so what happens if the stairs or both are blocked by flames?  Then you need to go out of the bedroom window as fast as possible.  That’s why an escape ladder is critical.  They can range in price from $35 to $100 depending on materials and manufacturer ask your insurance agent or local fire department for recommendations. It’s like insurance, you lay the money out to buy it for that peace of mind and hope you never have to use it. 

Don’t wait until an emergency to see if everyone can use the ladder.  It is highly recommended that you practice together at least once a year so everyone who may have to use the escape ladder is familiar and capable with it.  In fact, keep everyone on their toes and have an unannounced drill.  Whoever makes it to the meeting area gets pizza.  Also don’t forget to include plans to get the very young, disabled, the elderly, and pets out as fast and safely as possible.  

The best way to avoid having to evacuate in the first place is to practice good fire prevention practices in and around the home and then you won’t have to do a Houdini and escape.  If you have questions about fire safety or other safety issues in the home or workplace check out our blog archives for more articles or feel free contact us, we’re here to help.

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Secrets of the Professionals Revealed-3

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As we’ve learned from previous posts, we know that companies spend lots of effort and money each year to keep their facilities clean and in tip-top shape to provide you products of the highest level of quality.  Besides training, education, and scheduling these companies to have one more way to make sure they are doing things right. 

There are businesses that, very much like a mother-in-law will come to your facility and tell you everything you are doing wrong in keeping house.  Actually to conduct business with some major companies like Costco, Walmart, Whole Foods or Target your facility has to have a rating of 95 or better and for some only a 98 or better will do.  The ratings are based on the results of findings from the audit by a third party company like AIB International (American Institute of Baking) or ASI Food Safety.   Trust me, for the companies I worked where the score was important for business, the audit process is stressful and the worry endless until you get that report and rating.

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These auditors have a long list of things they look at which are the same for every facility they inspect so the scores are comparable.  The condition of the facility, cleanliness of the facility, sanitation schedule, pest control program, condition of storage containers, receiving procedures, cooler log, freezer log, the condition of the employee restrooms, the condition of the break/lunchroom, standard operating procedures and training.   It’s a thorough inspection and really keeps you on your toes but the secret to passing this inspection and getting the needed rating score is to run your facility this way year round.  Don’t get lax but keep consistent especially since once you begin justifying putting of cleaning and repairs it’ll become all too convenient to keep making excuses until it’s too late.  With that said, I worked at one company that waited until they got their notice of pending inspection, which you request in the first place and  then they’d proceed to freak out getting all the records together on pest control and training and couldn’t even tell you the countless hours of overtime for cleaning, cleaning, cleaning.  Yes, it’s true, not all companies are operated the same.

Then there are a few larger corporations that have their own internal audit teams that would travel around the country and show up unannounced.  Several months after we were bought by an even bigger fish, I can still remember the look on the plant managers face when one of those teams showed up unexpectedly to evaluate our operation as well as to deem who was worth keeping. 

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In your own home, you don’t need a team of auditors checking every nook and cranny before assigning you a score but I’m sure we all know a family member or friend who would be more than happy to do that for us.  However, it has been my experience if you keep up a consistent cleaning routine, do repairs within a reasonable time period and have good food storage habits your home will be safe even for your mother-in-law.

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Secrets of the Professionals Revealed That You Can Use at Home – 2

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Last issue we learned how the professionals keep their facilities free of vermin and how you can implement the same practices in your own home.  Do you wonder how the large food companies keep their facilities so clean and spotless to ensure you get the highest quality product?  I don’t know about you but I don’t always remember how long ago I cleaned behind the fridge, or how often I clean the range hood grills.  Was it last month? Last year?  The professionals use a fabulous tool to track cleaning that you can as well to make sure all is done on a regular basis and it’s called a “sanitation schedule”

Sanitation Schedule

Yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like.  It’s a cleaning schedule that is posted in a convenient location where everyone can see it.  It lists every component, every apparatus, every location that food touches and every other nook and cranny from receiving to production to packaging to the warehouse and finally shipping.  Also on the schedule along with each item listed is when it should be cleaned, who’s responsible to make it happen and when it did happen.  This ensures a uniform and continuous cleaning program that you can also schedule high traffic and critical areas for more intense cleaning. 

You can do the same thing for your home.  Great areas, to begin with, would be the kitchen and bathrooms.  So what do we need to clean?  Use a critical eye and look around the kitchen and break it down.  Don’t forget any surfaces.  As an example, I have behind the refrigerator scheduled as an annual chore and then for the stove vent hood, it’s done along with the grease traps and vents every other week May-Sept and then up to once a week Oct – Jan when we do more cooking and entertaining.  How about inside the refrigerator?  The door shelves, the produce storage bins, the ice bin.  All items you may miss but with your sanitation schedule, you are confident they’re clean and fully operational.  Don’t forget the pantry and other cabinets as well that you use to store food items.  When you’re cleaning them also keep an eye out for signs of infestation like mouse droppings and that food is properly sealed so it won’t entice unwanted visitors.   

Get the kids involved too by allowing them to make a  cleaning schedule for their own rooms as well as other cleaning chores you may assign them.  This is also the perfect time of year to get this started and a great habit to develop.  So get your sanitation schedule together, (please feel free to change and tailor the name to suit your needs) and then you can run your household just like a professional.

Want to learn more?  It’s easy.  You can begin by subscribing to this blog or you can also research it or google it.  Try the term HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) to get you started.  Remember, there is no such thing as a stupid question.

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A Surefire way to improve your chances of survival – Emergency Kit

 

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It’s a wake-up call.  One humungous wet, windy wake-up call.  When hurricane Harvey blasted into southwest Texas leaving extensive damage and flooding, the scale of which is all most beyond comprehension.  Then hurricane Irma took the spotlight unleashing her fury on the Caribbean and Florida.  This is very sad and horrible on so many levels of loss and human suffering and now people who decided to ride out the storm in the keys are stranded, cut off from the world without food, water or power.  I’m sure when most of you heard that, you said to yourself, “Really need to put that survival kit together.”  A fabulous thought that will unfortunately fade along with the coverage of the epic catastrophes until it becomes “Texas, Florida a year later” and then again you’ll say, “Really need to put that survival kit together.” and then one day, the dam breaks, the fires burn rampant, the earth shakes, rattles and rolls.  No kit!!  Now, did you have a plan B?

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Did you notice how fast conditions on the ground changed, from dry to chest high water and did you also notice how with a slight change in direction, Irma hit areas that thought there were originally safe?  That’s how natural disasters work.  No warning, no how do you do, no pleased to meet you, just HERE!  If you think I’m going to use these disasters to motivate you to prepare and give yourself the advantage to survive something like this, well, you would be correct!  You never know when an earthquake is going to hit, you don’t know how bad it’ll flood, you don’t know where the twister will touch down, you just don’t know.  That’s why we buy insurance, hoping to never need it, but very happy that it’s there and by preparing an emergency chest/barrel/kit will give you insurance to be able to survive the first week of an event, but hope you’ll never need it.

A lot of cities, of all sizes, struggle daily with their budgets and the cost of firefighters, police, infrastructure repair & maintenance, parks, and recreation, public transit, administrative staffing, courts, pensions, and lawsuits.  The level of city services are not what they once were and that includes the number of police and fire on duty at any given time and in the event of a natural disaster they would be immediately tied up responding to the hundreds of calls they would receive in the first few hours, (In Houston area alone they had over 75,000 emergency calls in the first four days).  They will triage the calls and handle the most serious including bleeding and severe trauma first, those with minor injuries will have to wait or treat themselves.  Depending on the conditions of the roads in and out of town, additional off duty first responders could be greatly delayed if at all able to report to work in the city or town they serve. 

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That’s why a survival kit comes in handy especially if you are able to stay in your home after the event.  After checking on those in the household the first thing you’ll do is a walk around your property and check to make sure it is still structurally safe to stay in and there is no smell of gas.  Now you can stay put and you have supplies to wait the few days until power and water come back online and life come back to normal.  Putting your survival kit together can be a fun family project and learning experience.  It’s also a great opportunity for a team building exercise for a company or safety committee.

My Survival Chest – This is what I used and put together for our home of two adults and one dog.  I was able to purchase just about everything on Amazon.com.  Use your imagination when it comes to the container and what you want to stash for an emergency. 

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A Rubbermaid 50 gallon capacity container, waterproof and made of sturdy plastic, it’s durable and on wheels, in case you have to move. Yellow so it can easily be seen.

 

 

 

Now, what items and how much of each do you need to put into your survival chest? Base the amounts to store on a worst-case scenario for your location and take into consideration how isolated is your location, are you within city limits and are there bridges and or tunnels to cross?  Next, how many people and pets are you planning for?  ie: Two adults and one dog?  Plan on 5 – 7 days of supplies since that’s about how long it may take before all utilities and services are restored. 

 

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WATER – Plan on 2 gallons per person per day. One gallon for drinking and one gallon for hygiene, sanitation and other.  Multiply 2 gallons with the number of people in the home and don’t forget to include water for your pets.  I have a mixture of bottled water and packaged sterilized water.  I would also add one or two of the straw water filter tools just in case things don’t get back to normal right away and you begin to run low on bottled water.  You can also boil water to sterilize it and if a fire isn’t possible, keep a small bottle of bleach in your kit.  It can be used for purifying water for drinking, 8 drops for a gallon of water, shake and wait thirty minutes.  

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FOOD – Any combination of what you enjoy of prepared camping meals, fruits and canned goods (make sure to include a can opener) as well as some of your favorite snacks, power bars and chocolate which will come in handy to help with the stress.  Don’t forget to store emergency food for your pets as well.

 

 

 

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RADIO/CHARGER/BATTERIES – There are several radio choices but the ones that come with a hand crank/battery/solar powered are fabulous.  You can leave it in the sun all day to charge or use the hand crank.  It also can be used to charge your phone.  The radio is both AM and FM as well as shortwave.

 

 

 

 

Flashlights/batteries/Candles and matches/fire starter – With no electricity, you’ll have to rely on flashlights, candles, and lanterns to illuminate the area.  This is very important for everyone’s safety especially if there is debris on the ground.  Never leave candles unattended.  Check the battery size requirements of all your items and store extra batteries in your kit.   

First aid kit/nonlatex gloves – A first aid kit can help you greatly for treating minor injuries.  If you need to treat a neighbor or stranger, the non-latex gloves will help protect you.

Sleeping bags/tents – If your home is not safe to stay in but you have a large yard in the front or back you may want to set up tents for protection from the elements.  Even if you can stay in your home, to help get the kids through this, set the tents up and pretend you’re on a family camping trip.  Also keep a tarp in your kit as well to help protect from rain or use to keep you off the ground or help move someone who can’t get around on their own.

Blankets/warm clothes – Natural disasters don’t care what time of year it is so be prepared and keep some extra sweatshirts, jackets in the kit along with blankets to those chilly nights.

Make sure to keep an inventory of what’s in your emergency kit along with the expiration dates of those items so you can replace them when needed.  Also, designate a meet area so you know everyone who was in the house or apartment is out.  In the event of an emergency, phone traffic will be crazy as people call 911 for assistance, family members calling to say they’re fine and family members calling to find out if loved ones are fine not to mention the possibility of downed cell towers.  I suggest you designate a family member who lives in another state as the contact person you can call to say you are fine and then let them contact everyone else about your status.  

You can get more information about how to prepare for a natural disaster or other emergencies by going to the FEMA web site at fema.gov and get stuff like an Earthquake Safety Checklist and other great information.  Check it out but don’t wait too long as it’ll be hard to research and prepare when you’re in the middle of a disaster.  Really, do it now!

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Hanukkah Candles, Christmas Tree Lights – Festive Dangers

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Reduce Home Holiday Risk – Don’t Kill Santa

As we show you how to make your home a safe haven for the holidays are there any other potential hazards that may exist?  What about that nice cozy fireplace that Santa will use to deliver presents?  When was the last time you used it and even more important, when was the last time you had the chimney cleaned?   Each time you use your fireplace, deposits  of ash, water vapor and other debris build up within your chimney and if not cleaned out can fuel a fire in your chimney that could spread throughout your home.  Be sure to keep flammable liquids and materials away from your fireplace, you don’t want to give the fire any added fuel to spread with and please avoid overloading your fire with too much wood.  Keep the fire manageable.  In addition here are 3 more tips for a safe fireplace.

1 – Don’t leave a fire burning in the fireplace when you go to sleep.  All it takes is one little spark to create a house fire.

2 – Don’t close the flue in your fireplace until all ambers and smoke is extinguished and out.  Closing it too early can cause dangerous carbon monoxide to spread throughout the house.

3 – Place all ash in a metal container, never in plastic or paper as any live ambers can burn through and create a house fire.

4 – Most important, test and make sure your carbon monoxide detector is operating.  

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Warehouseflow Advisors

Reduce Home Holiday Risk

The time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day are fun and joyous but they can be dangerous as well.  As people are gathering, visiting or traveling, cooking and eating, make sure your home is a safe haven for everyone during the holidays and not a house of horrors.  

Extension cords are not a solution either.  If there are too many items plugged in, it can heat up creating a fire danger as well as a trip hazard.

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Warehouseflow’s Tip of the Month – October

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15 Safety Things You Should Have Learned as a Child

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The very first safety meeting or training you ever had was not at your first job, it was more likely done at home.  It was delivered by either mom or dad and could have gone any which way from a nice gentle reminder, that’s something you shouldn’t touch sweetheart to a loud shattering “Are you stupid!?”, followed by a jolting smack in the back of the head.  
I grew up, in what may seem by today’s standards, as a dark and medieval as we didn’t have seat belts in cars let alone child seats, didn’t wear helmets when biking, spent most of the day outside without sunscreen, most of our fresh fruits and vegetables came out of cans, and everyone smoked, in-doors.  We had no color television let alone HD, no video games or mobile phones so we were forced to communicate on a primitive level, face to face!  We were exposed to many things as groups under the guise of a social event so we could all each get the chicken pox, measles, German measles or mumps at the same time and over and done with.  I was a very hyperactive young boy with an enormous curiosity and no fear, (not a good combination) that drove my parents absolutely crazy with many trips to our Doctor, whose office was very fortunately located on the ground floor of our apartment building.  At least once a month I was there for treatment on cuts, fractures, scrapes, stitches, X-rays and tetanus shots including once, hit by a car crossing the street.
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Through trial and error, bumps and bruises, key observations of others, I began to learn what posed a hazard and developed an ability to see them before they happened.  I admit some of the lessons I learned were through the expense of what others experienced, like Tom.  Tom was a very good friend of my dad and a first-rate car mechanic,  who allowed me to occasionally hang around the garage after school, I was in 5th grade.  He was an interesting character, with the 2 missing fingers from his right hand, that a fan blade removed for him because he wasn’t paying attention or buzzed or both. After each swig out of his bottle of whiskey, he’d make a face, look at me and tell me what a nasty habit it was.  He also was of the rare breed that would wash the grease and grime of the cars off his hands with gasoline.  “Great stuff” he would tell me, “universal solvent”, even then I knew he was wrong.  Tom also smoked unfiltered chesterfields by the pack full and one day, after he cleaned his hands and lit-up, as fate would have it, I got another life lesson and witnessed the entire event and believe me, it’s not something that you soon forget.
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In Ireland, their research has found that 16% of 3-year-olds wind up in hospital from injuries when there are 2 parents and it jumps to 46% for 3-year-olds with only 1 parent. Makes sense, when you have an active child like me it’s much easier to control when there are 2 parents doing the job.  (Read more here)    Over the years, our society has put many, many policies into place to help protect guys like Tom from themselves and to protect young children from accidents and yet, we still want to put more into place.  But is that a smart idea?  All parents have the natural urge to want to keep their children in a protective cocoon but does that help them prepare for the real hazards of life?  Even with all the new ways to protect children, they are still finding their ways into accidents, so have we done a disservice by not exposing them so they can learn first hand and understand the nature of a hazard and why it’s a hazard?  I really don’t know the real answer, to me, children need a certain amount of freedom to grow, explore and thrive which I gave both my children but then, I also believe all the reliance on technology is dumbing us down. Schools are abandoning the teaching of cursive, children can no longer read the hands on a clock, common sense is not as abundant.  Very glad to see the U.S. Navy recognized this and is teaching ship navigators how to use a sextant.  Always good to know the analog way as a backup.  I’m sure everyone has their own opinion on this topic and how to protect their child.  With that all said, may I share with you the 15 safety things I learned as a child.
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1 – When building your own stairway to heaven, make sure it’s sturdy.  Stacking different types of furniture with other household items presents challenges dealing with stability and engineering. Remember, the fall always looks worse than it really is and the quality of the treat is worth 3X the risk.
2 -You can tell if your dad is a baby boomer by the scar on his forehead. Before backyard trampolines us long time apartment dwellers used our parents’ bed as a trampoline for exercise and entertainment.  The goal was to see if we could hit the ceiling with our heads but reentry was dangerous if you lost track of where you were coming down, those headboards dispensed many cracked foreheads.
3 – Playing with matches is dangerous and may burn more then you want, especially when you use dad’s lighter fluid to pour all over your sister’s metal dollhouse.  The panic is debilitating as you watch and say, Wow, that went up fast.
4 – Dad’s double-edged razor blades came in a really cool dispenser. With the flick of your thumb, they’d pop out the side, one after another after another, oops all gone and dad’s going to be mad, unfortunately they’re much harder to put back in even if you can hold them steady enough, where’s that blood coming from, didn’t feel anything.  Oh wait, It’s me!  Sliced right between my thumb and forefinger. 
5 – Crossing on the green light and only in the crosswalks is safe but nowhere near as much fun as dodging out from behind parked cars.  Apparently, most drivers, check that, all drivers don’t appreciate it or see the humor.  My elementary school principal saw it as well and he didn’t see the humor either so I got to learn a lot about crossing safely from the 200-word essay on the dangers of not crossing at the light I had to write.
6 -While playing around with my erector set motor for the crane I built, I learned about pinch points when the gears in the motor stopped turning when my finger got caught in the gears. 
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7 – Grabbing handles of items on the stove to pull yourself up to get a better view is not a good idea, especially if they have hot liquids in them.
8 – Electric outlets can be fascinating with that little smiley like face.  You can’t quite get the dinner knife into there but dad’s flat screwdriver on the other hand.  Perfect fit, Whoa! 
9 – Mixing different cleansers found under the sink, do not make cleaning twice as easier or faster but can create a deadly poisonous toxic cloud throughout the house for the whole family to enjoy.  I think it may also be flammable. 
10 -The expression, look before you leap are words to live by.  Before one jumps from anything, a rock, a hill, a billboard sign, check that there are no boards with nails sticking up waiting for your foot on the landing.  Nailed it! 
11 -Running with scissors or any sharp object is never a good idea and only made even worse when they’re pointed your way.
12 -Empty plastic bags don’t make for really great masks, space helmets or underwater gear.  It’s very difficult to breathe and keep from passing out.
13 -The possibility of drowning was not one of the options that had entered my mind, after lying to everyone how well I could swim.  Came real close.
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14 -Cans of goodies use to come with a really cool key you’d use to wind around the can to remove the band of steel sealing it shut.  The challenge to getting the key was removing the steel band and did I mention how sharp the steel was.  Oh, will you look at that, bleeding again.
15 -Listening to the railroad tracks to see if a train is coming or daring someone to cross the tracks or hopping a freight train like in the movies may be exciting and adventurous but does not make for the best playground for kids.
Yes, I survived all 15 and have the scars to prove it.  Did it make me better? Smarter? Maybe but I know I enjoyed my childhood.  Join the conversation.  No matter what generation you are part of, what safety things did you learn as a child you’d like to share?

Just Putting It Out There – A Survival Chest

Power returns to the iconic light fixtures outside the U.S. Post Office on Second St. in Napa, Calif., five hours after the South Napa earthquake Sunday morning, Aug. 24, 2014. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)

(Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)

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.

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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.

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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.