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Natural Perspectives: Prepare for three days on your own in emergency

September 28, 2011|By Vic Leipzig and Lou Murray
(Courtesy Lou Murray )

While Vic was on a pelagic trip with Sea and Sage Audubon on Saturday, I attended a three-hour disaster preparedness seminar put on by Huntington Beach. I learned so many important things that it is impossible to put them all into one column.

Fortunately, our city is well prepared for emergencies, but we as individuals will need to care for ourselves for at least three days, and maybe for as long as two weeks.

I thought that Vic and I were fairly well prepared for emergencies until I sat through this seminar. There were far more types of emergencies that we could face than I was aware of, and there was so much more that we could do to prepare.

I've spent the past few days putting what I learned into action. We're now in a far better position to face and survive a wide range of emergencies and disasters, both at home and in our cars. After you read this column, please pledge to prepare your household too.

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City Emergency Services Coordinator Brevyn Mettler, who led off the symposium, said he is a professional at being paranoid. His job was to scare the pants off of us so that we would learn to take care of our families, our neighbors and ourselves. But just like on an airplane when the oxygen mask drops, the first step is to take care of yourself.

Mettler said that only 20% of people surveyed had secured tall furniture to their walls in anticipation of an earthquake, or had taken training in disaster preparedness. Only 40% had a disaster plan or had stored three gallons of water per person in anticipation of our infrastructure going down. That leaves a heck of a lot of families unprepared.

Hurricanes or landslides aren't much of an issue for us, and we don't face severe winter weather. But we do face 16 different kinds of potential emergencies, including power outages, pandemics of infectious diseases, and chemical or radiation exposure. However, the top three hazards for our area are earthquakes, floods or tidal surges, and urban fires or explosions. If we're ready for those, then we'll be ready for the others as well.

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