With major natural disasters almost daily news around the world in the last couple of weeks, and a small earthquake here in LA earlier this week, we can be thankful that we are so far safe and lucky here in Los Angeles. But all of these incidents provide yet another good reminder that we do need to be prepared for the emergency of a much larger quake or other disaster, because odds are that we will face one sooner or later. And, as the Los Angeles Times pointed out in an editorial today, we are not as prepared as we should be…whether that means better infrastructure, stronger and more flexible buildings, better communications and first responder networks, or the supplies and plans in our own homes.
Most of us are not directly involved in the kinds of large-scale, long-term financing and policy-making that needs to happen on a civic level, but individually and immediately we can always do more to protect our homes and families. And many of those things are actually pretty simple.
First of all, according to the American Red Cross, make sure you have at least three days worth of food and water on hand, along with flashlights, good batteries, first aid supplies and other necessities like dust masks, can openers, and medications. You can start with a commercially-purchased kit and then personalize it…or you can build one yourself pretty easily. And don’t forget to keep an old pair of shoes under your bed, in case you need to get up during the night and walk around where there might be broken glass.
Another thing you can do – even more easily – is sign up for the city’s NotifiyLA mass notification system, which is used to send voice messages, text messages and e-mail messages to residents and businesses during times of emergencies and disasters.
Also, if you have school-age children, make sure your child’s school has both your local contact information and the name and number of a trusted family member who lives in another state and will likely still be safe even if you can’t be reached during an emergency here.
Finally, for more information on family disaster planning and readiness, download this brochure from the City of Los Angeles’ Emergency Management Department, which provides tips for family emergency planning, designating safe meeting places, pet preparation and even advice on how to know when to stay put or evacuate.
This is not an easy subject, or one we like to face…but doing even a few of these simple things will be much easier than facing a disaster without having done them ahead of time.