Are you prepared for the destruction of Seattle?

earthquakeLast night I read the New Yorker article entitled “The Quake That Will Devastate Seattle”. I made the mistake of reading this about 15 minutes before I planned to go to bed. Three hours later I had taken our rather anemic to-do list of an emergency plan and pimped it beyond all recognition.

First and foremost and if you take nothing else away from this conversation is WATER, WATER, WATER. Even after a small event nowhere near the scale of a Cascadian Fault Full Margin Rip will see cut off water supplies. My brother-in-law, a firefighter advises that; we go through 2 gallons a day. Have enough for 5 days. That’s 20 gallons for a family of four. And it’s best to be on the safe side. They are a family of 3 and keep 30 gallons just in case. They change it with the seasons, and the fire alarm batteries. You can also get long term storage and simple chemical treatment to enable that. Some emergency planning experts even recommend planning for as much as 7-10 days.

The article is very well written, considering it’s shock value. It’s not the only resource. In Full-Rip 9.0: The Next Big Earthquake in the Pacific Northwest more detail and insights are provided far beyond what an op-ed piece can muster.

As I read through the FEMA emergency list (and their additional emergency supplies list) I browsed through Amazon adding items to a ‘wish list’. Additionally I searched for ‘emergency kit’ and looked at a variety of items from kits and other useful things. I have some wish-list trimming to do…

In regards to kits; there are pre-built options out there that often come in a handy bag. However much of the contents of these is perishable so if you purchase them you will need to plan to replenish some items. Or you can build your own. A friend tipped me off to Costco’s options, these are mind blowing. After some research and recommendations I also discovered USA Emergency Supply which has a comprehensive set of resources.

At the end of the day it’ll all boil down to personal preference.

The FEMA advice is sound; not least of which it goes beyond the consumables, gadgets and commodities being sold under the ‘emergency kit’ banner. The basics are also important; from tooth brushes, garbage bags (and zip ties), to wipes, sun block, plates/utensils and so forth.

Communications plans are also very important. Having an out of town contact that your whole family can contact is useful as communication in the area is often challenging.

The science is sound. The reality is that something really big can and will happen. We just never know when. We are much more likely to have a “big one” vs. a “really big one”. I.E. an 8.2 magnitude vs. 9.0. for the latter we may want to consider more extreme planning; multiple locations in your home of emergency food/water, additional equipment (shovels, knives, portable wood burning stoves) and so forth. For a “big one” we still need to make sure we secure the basics.

Other matters considering is tying down tall furniture and retrofitting your foundation for earthquakes.

The spectrum goes from completely unprepared to survivalist. We are working on figuring out exactly what we need and have accelerated our planning.

Good luck – and please do share your thoughts and advice on emergency planning!

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