Tag Archives: natural disaster

Emergency Preparedness: Oregon now Says 2 Weeks, not 3 Days

If you’ve been to this blog before, you know we talk about emergency preparedness—a lot. That’s because being prepared is part of being safe and secure. So when we heard that the state of Oregon has changed their recommendation for emergency preparedness from 72 hours of supplies to two weeks, we were intrigued, to say the least.

2 Weeks Ready
Oregon calls the campaign 2 Weeks Ready. This is a big change. We’re not talking 3 days to 5 or 7 or even 10, but 14. They’re recommending people in Oregon be ready to go it alone for two whole weeks. The situation in Oregon is based on the threats in that region, primarily earthquakes and tsunamis, but the reasoning is the lack of infrastructure in the aftermath of a disaster. As they say on their website:

“For many years, we’ve been talking about the importance of being prepared for 72 hours. This is a good start, and helpful in the event of short-term power outages or temporary evacuation. But a large earthquake and tsunami will leave much of the area’s transportation routes destroyed. Oregonians will have to count on each other in the community, in the workplace and at home in order to be safe until responders can reach you.”

Taking Oregon’s advice to heart
Although only certain parts of the U.S. are prone to earthquakes and tsunamis, it seems as if all of the U.S. is subject to some kind of natural disaster, from hurricanes to blizzards to wildfires to flooding…and more. Perhaps all of us should take this change from 3 days to 2 weeks seriously, because any of those disasters we just listed could also take down infrastructure. It doesn’t matter what causes the damage. Roads can be closed, power knocked out and communications taken down as a result.

Their website offers many resources and it’s definitely worth a look. They offer printable information sheets for business, communication, community, first aid, food, neighbors, pets and livestock, seniors, shelter, water and youth. They have a Facebook page and they are on Twitter.

How ready are you?
As we recently reported, only 40% of us are prepared for a disaster. That’s well less than half of the population. And for every person not prepared, the first responders and government agencies will be even more burdened with trying to help people. Do you want to rely on that? Or to take some responsibility for keeping your family safe and secure on your own? If you choose the latter, Oregon’s 2 Weeks Ready advice will help.

Shocking Survey Results: 60% of Us Are not Prepared for a Disaster

Why are we so ill-prepared for disasters in the U.S.? This isn’t just anecdotal. A new survey by Farmers Insurance shows how many of us are vulnerable to a natural disaster, due to lack of planning alone.

For National Preparedness Month last month, Farmers Insurance conducted a survey and published the results as both a list of findings and a planning resource. Among the shocking statistics, Farmers Insurance learned:

  • 70% of people living in the U.S. have experienced some kind of natural disaster.
  • One-third of those say they’ve been in a hurricane.
  • 60% of households do not have an emergency plan in place in case of a natural disaster.
  • 55% of people living in the U.S. don’t have an emergency kit.
  • 35% of those who do have an emergency kit and are pet owners don’t have any pet supplies in their emergency kit.

The results of that survey gave me a jolt because I fall into the “don’t have” category every time. We haven’t discussed emergency planning around here since we became empty nesters, which makes no sense, but is sadly true. So I am more than ready to tackle the emergency plan and kit as outlined in the document.

Your emergency plan
Are you also ready to get prepared? If so, the following suggestions offered by Farmers Insurance should help you develop your emergency plan for starters:

  • Know how you’ll receive emergency alerts. If the power goes out, as well as the Internet, how will you stay informed? A hand-powered or battery operated radio might be in order.
  • Know your evacuation route and shelter plan. If you have to evacuate, where will you go? Think about which roads might or might not be open in the event of a disaster. For us, for example, we really need to figure that out because we are three miles down a dead-end road. We could easily be cut off and unable to evacuate without a plan. If you have pets, research pet-friendly shelters ahead of time.
  • Know how you’ll get in touch with each other. Make sure everyone in the family has phone numbers memorized or written down in case a cell phone is lost and you can’t access your contacts. Then consider choosing a friend or family member who lives outside of the area as the contact point in case you can’t get in touch with each other.
  • Know where you’ll meet. If one person is at work and another at school and a third at home, and when disaster hits, meeting at home won’t be an option, where will you meet instead?

Your emergency kit
If you need to evacuate, you will need a grab-and-go emergency kit that you can take with you at a moment’s notice. Farmers Insurance recommends your kit include:

  • Water
  • Drinking water tablets
  • First aid kit
  • Canned food and can opener
  • Blankets, preferably the space saving emergency kind
  • Warm clothes
  • Sturdy shoes
  • Medication
  • Dust mask
  • Extra eyeglasses
  • Bleach
  • Baby items such as diapers and baby food
  • Pet items such as food, water bowl and leash
  • Hygiene products such as tissues and hand wipes
  • A plastic bucket in case toilets aren’t available
  • Battery-powered radio (and extra batteries)
  • Flashlights and batteries
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Multifunctional axe/knife
  • Whistle
  • Trash bags
  • Small tent
  • Cooking stove, fuel and pot
  • Heavy gloves
  • Shovel
  • Rope
  • Wrench
  • Cash
  • Copies of important documents
  • Phone numbers

You can see the full list here. Note that most of these items are things you should have on hand, even if you don’t need to evacuate. So have this stuff handy regardless, okay?

Are you one of the 60%?
The year 2017 was the costliest ever, with natural disasters causing $306 billion worth of damage. As we near the end of 2018, it seems we had an easier year, but one thing is for certain: Natural disasters will always be a threat. We can’t do anything about that or the destruction they will do, but we can take steps to keep ourselves and our families safe by preparing ahead of time. And according to Farmers Insurance, 60% of us need to get our acts together and get ready!

Let’s Learn from 2017’s Costly Disasters, to Be Workplace Ready in 2018

By now, you’ve probably heard about or seen the headlines around the record-breaking costs of 2017’s natural disasters. According to the Washington Post, last year’s natural disasters caused $306 billion in damage. Most of that was damage caused by hurricanes, at $265 billion.

Although people come down on two sides regarding why we had so many and such costly disasters, there’s one point you can’t argue: the necessity of emergency preparedness. Regardless of the reasons behind these events, the fact is that disasters do happen, and in this day and age, there not all caused by Mother Nature. We can’t prevent the disasters, but we can be ready for them.

Emergency preparedness in the workplace
In this blog, we have posted many times on being prepared for disasters, whether they hit when we’re at home or away from home. Since many of us spend a significant amount of time at work, however, let’s also address emergency preparedness in the workplace. There’s a good chance that’s where we’ll be if something does go wrong, whether it’s a natural disaster like a tornado or a manmade one like a terrorist attack.

The Nonprofit Risk Management Center website is the place to start. There you will find easy-to-follow instructions for planning for evacuations—and the key word here is planning. Knowing ahead of time how evacuations will be carried out is absolutely critical to everyone’s safety. Instructions include planning for evacuations, including the alarm system that will be used; training employees on evacuation procedures; getting any visitors out of the building; making sure everyone is accounted for; designating emergency response teams; securing vital records and equipment and much more.

We highly recommend going to this page and using it as a resource. You’ll find two kinds of checklists, one for employees to follow should they have to evacuate, and one for your business to ensure you’ve covered all your bases in your planning and training. In addition, you’ll find links to other resources as well.

What if you’re not the boss?
Even if you’re not the boss or the business owner, this is information you need to know and to share with those who are in charge—or at least with your coworkers. Because the best way to handle a disaster is to be ready for it.

If you want to start with an assessment of your state of readiness, the Red Cross has created an online assessment for businesses and schools to use to evaluate how prepared they are (or aren’t) for an emergency. If you’re an employee, this might be a good starting place for raising awareness with management, and ensuring your workplace is ready.

And regardless of whether or not management decides to listen and act, you might also want to read these tips for emergency preparedness, wherever you are when disaster strikes.

Here’s to a less chaotic 2018, but to families and facilities being prepared nonetheless!

Photo by Benjamin Kerensa on Unsplash

Take Steps to Make Sure Everyone Is Safe From Falling Objects During an Earthquake

Given that the poor state of Oklahoma is being rocked by earthquake after earthquake, it seems appropriate to delve into some earthquake safety tips, but since websites like FEMA’s have those covered in-depth, we decided to focus on what we know best: a safe and secure home.

Why? Because a lot of the danger from earthquakes stems from objects and furniture in your home falling and hurting—or even killing—people. And it’s not hard to lower that risk.

Below are some tips on securing items within your home now, so that no one is in danger of injuries caused by falling objects in case of a little shake or big quake.

Do a little rearranging now for a lot of peace of mind later
As far as I can tell looking at the U.S. Geological Survey website, only eight states out of 50 don’t have earthquakes. Not all have as many as Alaska, California or Hawaii (our top three), but it’s still surprising to see that almost every state has had at least one earthquake with a magnitude greater than 3.5 since 1974.

That means you are probably at risk, even if you don’t live in one of the top three states. So be proactive about making your home safer in an earthquake.

First off, look around and ask yourself, what tall furniture could fall over? Tall furniture might be bookshelves, filing cabinets, armoires, entertainment centers, dressers or even your refrigerator or that upright freezer in your mudroom.

You can secure that furniture to decrease the chances that it will fall by using hardware that lets you attach it to a wall stud. This might require some redecorating and rearranging, but the safety factor is worth it!

Obviously tall furniture in a bedroom is a bigger risk than your refrigerator, because an earthquake could happen while you’re sleeping. So that’s your bigger concern. Make sure if tall furniture falls, it won’t fall on someone. For example, don’t have tall furniture next to a bed. Also make sure it won’t fall and block your exit from a bedroom or from your home.

Next, look for heavy objects that could fall if stored up high, such as a stereo, computer or a TV on top of a cabinet. Secure these items so they can’t fall. (And note that “TV tip-overs” are a huge danger to children on a daily basis, not just during earthquakes. So secure that TV regardless!)

Now tackle the shelves themselves. For smaller objects that can pose a threat, put all the heavy items on lower shelves.

Now check for lamps, pictures, mirrors or objects hanging from walls that can fall on someone during an earthquake. You can use closed hooks for hanging to decrease the chance that something will fall. Also try not to have anything hanging over a bed. Closed hooks or not, why risk something crashing down on a sleeping person during an earthquake? There are more walls. Move whatever it is to a safer place.

And some other tips to keep your home safer during an earthquake:

  • Make sure your water heater is strapped to the wall.
  • Install latches on kitchen cabinets to keep them closed.
  • Use museum putty to attach smaller objects to shelves.

For bigger issues such as making sure your actual home is ready for an earthquake plus what to do during and after one, you can find lots of great advice and resources on the FEMA site. I highly recommend you check out—whether you live in Oklahoma or not.

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