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Natural Perspectives: Getting prepared for disaster takes some real effort

October 05, 2011|By Vic Leipzig and Lou Murray

Preparing for emergencies is so important that Vic and I are devoting another column to the topic. After sitting in on the city's disaster preparedness seminar two weeks ago, I am more ready for emergencies.

Vic and I have put many of the things that I learned at the seminar into action, but there is still much more to do. For example, I bought a shut-off wrench for the gas line so we can shut off the natural gas in case of a leak. So far the wrench is still in its original packaging, but sooner or later I'll remove the packaging and use some string to attach the tool to the gas line outside.

I knew that we had installed earthquake straps for our water heater and tall furniture, but it turns out that our newer bookcases are unsecured. Ditto our big 1-year-old flat screen TV. I've bought straps to secure those things, as well as latches to keep cupboards from banging open in an earthquake, but haven't installed them yet.

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Vic and I have made great progress in our disaster preparedness, but we're obviously not finished. There are so many different types of disasters to think about. Mother Nature might bring us floods, fires, earthquakes or tsunamis. Or a disaster might be man-made. As we saw in San Diego a few weeks ago, even routine maintenance of a power line can knock out power to an entire region.

The power goes out so often at our house that many years ago I bought back-up power supplies and surge protectors for each of our computers. Now when the power goes out, our back-up power supplies sound an alarm letting us know that the computers are running on battery power. That gives us time to save our work and shut down the computers.

We also have plug-in emergency flashlights that go on whenever the power goes off. We have one of these lights in the bedroom and one in the hallway. If the power goes out at night, we have enough light to find our way around the house.

We're all supposed to have a minimum of three gallons of water stored per person, one gallon each for three days. I have six gallons in polypropylene containers in the garage. I keep them on a bottom shelf of a stainless steel storage rack because if the water is stored directly on concrete, chemicals might leach from the concrete, through the plastic, and into the water.

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