Monday, July 30, 2012
Planning to Live
When I first started making preparations I was convinced it was all about adding another can of Spam or some more beans to the pantry. The more I learn and the farther down this road I go, the more my thinking has evolved. Your plan is every bit as important as having your shelves full of food. You may have the most well-equipped pantry and every one of your cars has a get-home bag, but without a plan it may all be for naught.
Your response to disaster will be different if an earthquake occurs when you’re 100 miles from home than it will be if you’re sitting in your living room. When a fireman knocks on your door and says you have one hour to evacuate because of a wildfire heading your way, your plan has to be flexible enough to accommodate that scenario.
Some years back, as a student pilot, my flight instructor drilled into me the importance of always keeping a landing area in mind. There aren’t too many flat areas in Western Oregon to land a small plane, but if I expected to survive an engine failure or other emergency, I’d better have a plan where I was going to land that airplane.
No plan can cover every scenario, but a primary basic to every disaster plan is communications. How do you plan to get in touch with your family? Have you discussed with your family who they should contact if they can’t get in touch with you? One method widely encouraged by experts is to establish an out-of-state friend or relative to be a clearing-house for your family’s communication. Many times it’s easier to make an out of state call than to call next door. If local communications are disrupted, quite often calls out of the area more successful than local calls.
So sit down with your family and decide which out of state relative or friend will make a good contact hub for you. Make sure each family member is supplied the necessary contact information and under which circumstances you will make contact.
Making plans isn’t as exciting as finding a bargain on freeze-dried food or discovering another new gadget. But if you don’t have a plan in place, none of the survival food nor the latest GPS receiver is going to be of any use to you. After all you’ve got to have a place picked out to land that airplane. Every pilot knows if they fly long enough, sooner or later they may have to make an emergency landing. You’d better have a plan! Remember the credo: Get a kit, make a plan, be informed! Don’t overlook the ‘plan’ part.
As always contact me for questions or comments at email@example.com
Thursday, July 26, 2012
I have already confessed to being fascinated with gadgets. I’m pretty sure I’m in the majority. Otherwise how do you explain the millions of iPads out there and why is it the owners manual for your smartphone now comes on a CD? Things are getting more and more complicated because that’s what the public demands.
F.E.M.A (Federal Emergency Management Agency) has instituted a program titled “Get Tech Ready”. This site is designed specifically for those who have grown accustomed to using technology as a matter of routine. My generation had to learn to come up to speed with computers. I remember taking a computer class with my wife in 1982 or 1983. The class was taught by a high school teacher now retired (Art Denning). The computers were Apple II’s, as I recall. (Look that one up in the history books kids.) We came away from the class with the opinion that they could help keep the checkbook straight (maybe) and play some cool games, but that we would probably never have need for one in our home. (No wonder I could never make any money in the stock market!)
Get Tech Ready is a resource that educates families about how using technology can help them prepare for and recover from disasters. A survey by the American Red Cross shows that the internet, including news sites and social networking platforms is one of the most-used tools that people employ to let loved ones know they are safe.
Some preparedness tips offered by Get Tech Ready include: (1) Learn to use your mobile phone for alternative communication methods, such as texting and email, in the event voice communications are not available. (2) Store your personal and financial documents using a cloud-based (online) site or on a flash drive you always have handy. (3) Create an Emergency Information Document using the Ready.gov Family Emergency Plan template in Google Docs or by downloading the Ready FamilyEmergencyPlan to record your plans.
The American Red Cross has developed some very cool applications (apps) for your smartphone. They have a shelter finder app and another titled Safe and Well is an amazing tool to let your loved ones know that you are indeed safe and well. It will also give you information regarding the whereabouts of your friends and family. It’s time to shed your bias against technology and let technology work for you. It could, after all, keep your family alive. Computers, like the horseless carriage, television and rap music, are not going away.
Finally don’t feel left out if you don’t own a computer or don’t know anything about today’s seemingly complicated technology. It’s never too late to learn and it might even be fun. Ask your grandkid to help you. After all I learned to text so I could stay in touch with my grandkids. You can do the same. As always contact me for questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sunday, July 15, 2012
Asset or Liability?
Asset or liability? Terms normally reserved for bean counters, accountants and other bookkeeping types. In the event of a disaster there are both. Those who are part of the problem and those who are part of the solution. Assets and liabilities. I have mentioned in past columns about the probable lack of ability of our first responders to answer every need in the event a major disaster. Not through any fault of theirs. The first responders I know are dedicated professionals who train ceaselessly and devote their lives to public service. It’s simply a matter of being overwhelmed when anything of disastrous significance occurs. It is routinely understood among fire, EMS and law enforcement people that they will be unable to respond to many calls for assistance. In short, they need more assets.
My wife and I spent a recent weekend attending Community Emergency Response Team (C.E.R.T.) training. Along with twenty others we had classes on first-aid, triage, light search and rescue, terrorism and other related topics. The concept of a trained cadre of citizens was developed by the Los Angeles Fire Department in 1985 to augment their staff in time of disaster. Today the program is under the covering of F.E.M.A. and the administration trickles down to the local fire departments through the county’s Emergency Services Co-ordinator. C.E.R.T. volunteers were recently activated during the recent rash of tornadoes in the south and last year in the Joplin, Missouri, tornado.
On March 11, 2011, when the tsunami from the Japanese earthquake threatened our coast, a dozen CERT members from Astoria and neighboring towns were activated. The team reported to a local elementary school to set up a tsunami shelter. They brewed coffee and prepared food for the firefighters who had been up all night trying to warn people to relocate, as well as for citizens who came to weather a possible tsunami wave. The CERT staged these activities from its "CERTmobile" a former ambulance that not only has food-preparation space, but also holds emergency equipment, including chainsaws, generators, floodlights, traffic signs, and radios for all law enforcement and amateur radio channels. The CERT coordinators kept in constant contact with amateur radio operators observing conditions along the coast.
The CERT members staffed the post until it became clear later that morning that their area would not be hit by the tsunami, although parts of the southern Oregon and northern California coasts were damaged.
It’s your call. Asset? Or liability? The training will be offered again in a few months and will benefit anyone who attends. Not only that, but your newfound skills and energy will become an asset to your community. If interested contact Glenda Hales, Coos County Emergency Management, get your name on the list for training.
As always comments or questions may be sent to me at email@example.com.
How many times lately has someone mentioned how weird the weather has been? Our recent snow storm seems to caught everyone, even the weatherman unawares. It seems everyone has a story to tell about their experiences when they woke up and discovered somewhere between six and ten inches of snow in their yard.
What struck me was the degree to which our lives were impacted, by only 8 inches (at my house) of snow. Power lines were down, trees across the highway, and a whole bunch of driveways (mine included) blocked by fallen trees. Some folks were without electricity for at least three days. Not to mention the slick roads. A deputy sheriff was overheard making the following radio transmission: “I’m just going to arrest people for driving!”
One area police department was unable to use their patrol cars as they had no system in place to get tire chains installed. That coupled with the fact city hall was without electricity (no generator), the phone system and base radio station were inoperative. Officers were patrolling in their privately owned four-wheel drive vehicles, even responding to some calls on foot.
The up-side is we all had a chance to learn some valuable lessons. Some folks I know are also some of the best-prepared-for-disaster people around, yet they related to me one lesson (among several) they learned. No electricity required them to use their kerosene lamps. The lady of the house told me she discovered whatever they used for fuel in the lamps gave her a headache. Time to re-evaluate their fuel, maybe paraffin oil.
In my case, the last time I used my chain saw I put it away dull. I remember thinking, “I’ve got to file that chain.” Little did I know how quickly I was going to need it again. Then when faced with a tree across my driveway, I realized the error of my ways. Going to my shop I had resigned myself to sharpening the saw, then cutting that tree out of the way and going on to work. In my not-so-tidy shop, I was unable to locate a file, so then I find myself griding away on that tree with a dull saw. I finally got it out of the way, but my task would have been much less stressful with a sharpened, ready-to-go saw in the first place. Just in case you’re curious, I have since purchased two new files, cleaned up my workbench, and my saw is now gassed, sharp and ready for action!
And that area police department? (Not Myrtle Point by the way.) Steps have been taken to bring their readiness to a higher level in the event weather repeats itself.
No matter what your experience taught you, I’m willing to bet you and your family learned some lessons. We all learned some about how prepared we were, and how we could have been just a bit better off with some minor adjustments. A few more candles or some extra gas for the generator could have made a difference.
As always if you have questions or comments or just want to know where you can get a good deal on round files, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.