For a few days last summer, parts of my neighborhood were in ruins, the recent victim of the film San Andreas. Crushed cars, toppled walls, charred emergency vehicles and about 300 dirty and wounded extras wandering the streets in a daze. Glimpsing the possible outcome of a large disaster, however fantastical, got me thinking about what needed to be done to prepare for an earthquake, since the chance for an earthquake is higher for most people who live along the west coast. But making a list of what needs to be done is one thing, actually doing it, another.
Fast forward to May of 2015 and the release of the movie San Andreas: not exactly my favorite genre of movie but I’m debating – is it intriguing or completely frightening to see San Francisco in ruins? Regardless, the thought of that movie once again brought up the subject of our disaster preparedness plan, which, almost a year later, was still only partially completed.
Why is it so Difficult to Create an Emergency Action Plan?
Why is it so difficult to create an emergency plan and execute it? You start asking questions like: What if I can’t get into my apartment? Or what if I’m on the other side of town and can’t get back to my apartment? What is a good meeting place, just in case our street is blocked and not accessible? What do you keep on hand and where? What will my dog need? The What’s and What Ifs seem even more insurmountable than the actual disaster…
But some things are in place. We have an emergency earthquake backpack kit in the trunk of the car and random items in another vehicle (or maybe not so random – those water packs and snack bars). There may or may not be a bag of dog food in the car – or did it get used on the last camping trip? I think I saw some duct tape – isn’t that a must have? Ok, what I’m saying is that doing this is so hard. Years go by and I still find my emergency plan not done – Why?
OK, I admit to being a procrastinator. When things, such as preparing for a disaster are bullet-pointed out and presented as a ‘to do’ list, I tend to get overwhelmed and clean the house instead. And, let’s face it, imagining a disaster is scary. So I came up with an idea for myself, and that is to tackle one item a week rather than trying to block out one (mythical) day and do everything at once. And I’m happy to report – the 5 gallon water bottles I keep on reserve are now secured to the wall and will not topple down the stairs. Check! One thing off the list. This could work, one thing at a time: dog supplies, emergency contacts in the phone, securing the book shelves to the wall – and whatever else is on the list…can I get it all be done by time San Andreas is released on DVD?
ps: You can build your own kit. The .GOV link has some great suggestons. And if you already have an emergency kit or plan in place – we’d love to hear about it. Anyone remember the 1989 earthquake in SF – what did you do?
But if you’re like me, buying a good starter kit to throw in your trunk such as the Mayday Deluxe Emergency Backpack Kit might be all you can do for the moment (hey, it’s better than the nothing you may have now). The kit I’ve linked to is pretty close the one pictured above (can’t remember where I got that one) and is good for at least 5 years. My thought is that you can’t anticipate where you’ll be when disaster strikes, having one in the car is best (since you car is either home with you or you’re with it when you’re not home). Also, the backpack is only a start – you’ll want to customize it to your needs (medications, pet supplies, additional food, etc). The one I suggested gets good reviews and is approved by the US Coast Guard – and you can choose a 2, 3 and 4 person packs – which will provide enough supplies to get by for 3 days.