I have a tickler file – I put things in it, to remind me to do something at an appointed date and time. Today’s tickler file reminder was to perform my annual home emergency preparedness review.
Here in the Northwest, we live in earthquake country. The experts tell us it’s not a matter of IF, but rather a matter of WHEN the next major earthquake will strike western Washington. Most injuries in earthquakes are caused by things falling or breaking or when people try to run from one place to another. Anything that can move, break, fall or cause a fire when your home starts to shake is a potential hazard. Here are some the things I’ll look at; perhaps you may want to perform a similar check
- Are large items close to the bed? Dressers or other tall furniture can topple over during a ‘quake. Glass items on those pieces of furniture and even glass from windows or picture frames can cause injury.
- Heavy potted plants – particularly those suspended from the ceiling, in any room – can come loose and cause damage to anyone near. These can be replaced with lighter pots and the suspending hook should be a king that can be positively closed to keep the suspended item in place.
- Check storage cabinets and shelving: place heavier items on the bottom shelves and lighter items on the top shelves.
- Secure tall furniture to the wall studs to prevent them from toppling over. Commercial gels, and other similar products can secure displayed items such as glassware to the shelf, so they don’t come flying off when things start shaking.
- Check to insure your water heater is securely strapped to the wall studs. This will prevent it from tipping, and if the water supply is compromised, this is a 30 to 50 gallon supply of emergency water.
- Check the garage or similar storage areas: store liquid weed killers, pesticides, or other flammable liquids away from heat sources.
- Do you know how to and have the tools readily available to shut off your utilities – water, natural gas, electricity – in the event of leaking from damage incurred during the ‘quake?
- Check your cabinet latches: replace magnetic latches with a type that will positively hold, keeping the cabinet contents inside.
- Check the yard for dead tree limbs that could snap off and damage the roof of your house.
- Re-arrange the furniture, if necessary, so that if they did tip they would not block an evacuation route or access to your emergency supplies of home fire extinguisher.
- Check your 72 hour kit for expiration dates of food and stored water supplies. If you don’t have a kit, get one, appropriately sized for your family and don’t forget to have supplies for your pets, too.
The bottom line is simply, any preparations you make, can be useful in not only an earthquake event, but will be helpful in any emergency situation. A final suggestion: do you have current First Aid / CPR training? If not, one source for training is Evergreen Safety Council, check out the schedule for classes on our website.