Our own emergency

As we watch in horror the destruction that has been visited on the poor folks of the Gulf Coast states, we wouldn’t be human if we didn’t think at least a little bit of our own danger here. So after donating money or blood, spend a thought on your own preparedness.

In Los Angeles and nearby counties, we don’t really have to worry much about hurricanes — we have our own forces of nature to contend with. And although there is no annual earthquake season, we always have in the back of our minds the potential danger inherent in living here.

However, it’s not about being scared: it’s about being ready….

The California Office of Emergency Services (OES) website is a good starting point for learning about dealing with all the various dangers in our state. Their Earthquake Program subsite has a section with a bunch of PDF Earthquake Preparedness Tip Sheets for download.

The SF Chronicle has a clear-cut page on creating an Earthquake Kit, which is part of a greater site called Quake Country, describing other considerations you’ll need to deal with.

Of course, you could buy one of the ready-made kits online (or in local stores), but it would probably be cheaper to put your own together. They recommend you create three identical kits, for home, work, and your car (obviously multiplied by each person in your household).

One of the biggest parts of being ready is not necessarily buying a bunch of stuff: it’s having a plan for each of your family members, so that everyone knows what to do, who to contact, where to go, etc. Schools will often have their own plans in place for dealing with students, so make sure you’re familiar with those. And plan on the freeways being either gone or packed — have alternate routes, preferably on surface streets. If you got an evacuation order from the government, where would you go and how would you get there?

I know our hearts and minds are turned toward our brothers and sisters in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. Let’s do what we can for them.