Author: Todd Edman, CPREP Board Member
When you take a moment and think about the important things in life, your family, your pets your security, it is sometimes shocking how little we do to maintain those things. Honestly, for myself, I have so much going on in my own life it takes me weeks to cut up a limb from a tree that just fell in my yard! How much time do I really have in my life to prepare for an earthquake that may never happen? What could I really do about it anyway?
The answer is you don't need much time to make a big impact. Even I've cobbled together a go-bag and assembled an emergency plan for my family. So let's start with the impact so you know WHY you are taking 30 minutes out of a Saturday to get started on preparing for the Cascadia quake.
The odds of the quake happening when my kids are still school-aged is high. When we are talking high, we are talking living in Florida and experiencing a direct hit from a hurricane type of high. Just imagine how you feel about someone in Florida telling you they didn't prepare for a Hurricane because they didn't think it would happen. Seems silly doesn't it? Same for the Cascadia Earthquake. Wipe any scenario out of your head in which you spend some time preparing for the quake and it never happens. That's not going to happen.
When it happens you will absolutely need the items you've prepared. I'm not talking about building a bomb shelter full of food here. I'm talking about practical things you'll be glad you did. Even if our infrastructure along the I5 corridor stays relatively intact, interruption in basic services is unavoidable. You can't count on water, electricity, internet, or cell phones to be available in the 2 days after the quake, even in a best-case scenario. I could go into the reasons why but the point isn't to scare anyone. Just know that its a really good idea to prepare.
The point is to start. You don't have to do much to really get moving. Here are my suggestions:
Step One: Take a sheet of the top of your grocery list. Tear it in half. Write down where your family will meet if they can get to your house, and where they will meet if they can't get to your house. Write down how long to wait after the quake at each location. Then pick a third location that's a public facility and meet at the public shelter closest to that location. Put a copy of each in each family car in the glove box and take a picture of it will your cell phone. Text it to your loved ones. Step one done. That took 10 minutes. Easy.
Step Two: Get a gallon zip-lock plastic bag. Any medications that your family depends on? Put a 5 day supply in the bag labeled with the date you put it in and the expiration date of the medication. Boom. 10 More minutes. This is the start of your "go bag." Do one and put it in the car that your most likely going to have at home or the one you'll drive in an emergency. Now do another for your other car.
Step Three: Go to your grocery list. Add in a bag of Dog food/cat food more than you normally do. Store it someplace in your house that's inconvenient so you don't use it instead of buying another bag. Also, double the amount of can food/soup items that you're going to buy next time and store this with the Dog food. Do this the next 2-3 times you go to the store and you'll have a good stash started. I bought an extra box of Cliff Bars and stashed it with my camping stuff.
Step 4: Buy milk in jugs? Great! Rinse them out well and fill them with water from the tap. Put the cap on and store them in your shed. That will give you one gallon for each person. Feeling ambitious? Do two for each. The chlorine from the tap water should keep them in good shape, but you might want to refill once a year so write on them the date with a sharpie.
Step 5: If that's all you do great! But if you've done the first few, you'll likely want to keep going! Go to REI or Bi-Mart or wherever you buy camping stuff. Buy 3 sets bottles of water purification tablets. (They come in set's of two...one to purify and one to make it not taste like iodine.) Put one in each car go-bag and one with your food stock. That will give you plenty of extra water should you need it for a bit longer.
So I'm going to stop there. Just decided you're going to start and as you do you'll find that you feel more secure and you'll be SO GLAD. I can't even describe how good it feels to even begin the process.
And you know know what....you'll never ever regret you did it.