I know, you all want me to shut up already about the earthquake. Sorry, no can do. I'm a bit of a geogeek with a professional interest in emergency management, and it's a bad combination. For you. Click away now if you simply can't stand it anymore and don't care if you have to eat slugs and ants and sleep in a ditch when all hell breaks loose. Still here? Perhaps you have seen this recent article from Outside Magazine? If you live on the West Coast, you should definitely read it. Go ahead, do it now and then come back and we'll talk about. I'm waiting. If you don't live on the West Coast, you probably don't care about the huge earthquake, but you might still need to worry about medium-sized earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, floods, or the zombie apocalypse. Keep reading!
Oh, good! You're back. Pretty interesting, eh? Maybe a bit terrifying? It's a good article, if a bit alarmist. As the article does note, while continuing to hype the megaquake cluster theory, there is actually no evidence that supports this idea. It could be true, of course. Lack of evidence proves nothing, OBVIOUSLY. But it doesn't even matter. Make no mistake, there WILL be a subduction zone quake on the Cascadia Subduction Zone. It might be tomorrow, and it might be on December 23rd, 2104. There is absolutely no way to tell. Your dog might give you a little warning, who knows. You can't count on it, and again, it doesn't matter.
The important thing is to be prepared. It's not even hard: have emergency food and water in your vehicles and at home. Have some cash, some blankets, whatever you will need to sustain yourself and your family (and perhaps some of your less smart neighbors) in some level of comfort for at least a week. There are plenty of places you can find suggestions for your stash- Ready.gov is a great resource. The Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency has a twelve week shopping plan on their blog that is summarized here. The idea is to add a few items to your regular shopping list over twelve weeks, so it's not prohibitively expensive, like building a kit all at once might be, and it's a good way to at least get the basics. If you have more money than time, there are some good pre-made kits available. They aren't sufficient for a comprehensive home kit but they would be great for the car. They make super gifts, and the holidays are coming up!
Here are some other easy things you can do to improve your post earthquake, hurricane, tornado, flood, zombie attack or other disaster situation:
-store your camping gear next to your emergency kit. You might need to live in your yard for a while, and it will be a LOT more fun if you have a tent and a campstove. In fact, pack your emergency supplies as if you are going on an extended camping trip in the deep bush, because you might be. Don't forget a toothbrush!
-think about your vices. After the disaster, when you're pooping in a bucket and fending off vultures, is not the right time to quit smoking, give up your beloved Shocktops or live without your porn collection. Lay in a good supply or quit now. I don't care which; I'm not judging you, just trying to keep you from suffering later.
-choose a meeting place and have an out of state friend or relative for a contact in the event your family members are separated.
-keep your car at least half full of gas all the time. You might need it to recharge your wireless device. Make sure you have a car charger.
-use any medication or medical supplies? Kids need diapers? Have pets? Are your kids picky eaters? Store what you'll need to keep everyone healthy, comfortable and not screaming. I hear the sound of a small child shrieking attracts feral dogs. And bears.
-download apps from the Red Cross and other agencies in advance. Google them up and see what's available for your device. You can find the closest shelter, locate friends and family members and receive comprehensive medical care advice, among other useful things. Mobile service is often one of the first things that gets restored.
-keep copies of your important papers in another location. Maybe trade with a family member or friend.
-think about where to keep your supplies. Look for a place that's easy to get to if your house is unstable. You don't want to be crawling around in the basement with the power out and the floor joists creaking and splintering over your head, because there might be spiders down there.
-take a first aid class and toss the book in your emergency kit when you're done.
-think about tsunami evacuation routes when you plan your beach vacation. Some spots are definitely better than others. Look for a place that offers some close by terrain that's easy to get to.
-have a stack of firewood. And put some marshmallows in your kit, just for funsies!
-learn what to do: drop, cover and hold on!
-pay attention to your surroundings. Know the hazards and evacuation routes around your house, your office, your kids' schools.
All right, fine, I am shutting up now. Have a good week and get shopping! Oh, you also need some bleach. Lots and lots of bleach. And wine, plenty of wine! But you knew that, right?