After experiencing a few small to moderate L.A. area earthquakes since moving here, I have tried to pull together a basic emergency kit for my home and my car. The kit includes water, some dry foods (including beef jerky and peanut butter), flashlights, hand-crank radio, matches, and candles. Last night, my part of the Marina experienced a blackout, which gave me the chance to test my disaster skills in a relatively safe environment. The results were mixed.
First of all, I had a head start. I had a visitor over, and we had candles burning (’nuff said about that). When the blackout occurred (shortly after 10 p.m., I believe), first I went to find the flashlight. I knew I had a Mini-Mag in my kitchen drawer. However, the burning candles were in glass jars, and were too hot to hold. So I had to feel around in the dark for the flashlight. Fail. Next, I went for the hand-crank radio. I found it right away. Haha, I’m so proud of myself. Except, I never used the thing before. Bringing it back into the candlelight, I saw that it had a built-in flashlight. However, a little bit of cranking yielded very little radio or flashlight time. Then I saw that the radio contained a battery compartment. I knew I had extra batteries. I fished around blindly in my “utility” cabinet and found them. Voila! I was probably one of the first in the blackout area to have music. Then I used the built-in flashlight to find my Mini-Mag.
I started thinking about some future-related issues. Could I use a portable generator in an apartment? Out on the terrace? Do they all run on gasoline? What if there was an emergency that included a power outage, and I wanted to the leave the building in my car? How would I get out of the garage, which has an electric gate? But then the power came back on, and the time for running through hypotheticals was over.
Whenever I experience a non-emergency snafu, such as a power outage, car breakdown, cancelled airplane fiight, etc., I like to think of it as a test of my wits, and I enjoy trying to solve the problem. I considered last night’s blackout to be a dry run for my preparedness in a more dire emergency, especially an earthquake. Based on the results, I still have a way to go.