Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us

by Dave Robinson

Dave Robinson

After the Shaking
Originally published June 20, 2012

I personally have only experienced one minor earthquake. What I remember is that my recliner was moving from side to side for no reason. About that time my wife commented that “we’re having an earthquake!” I walked in to the dining room and we both watched the chandelier over the table sway back and forth. What I marveled at was that everything I had ever considered solid, stable and unshakable, wasn’t. I hadn’t realized it until then, but my whole paradigm of conscious living was based on the earth being solid. It was pretty unsettling to discover otherwise. All you transplanted Californians are old hands at this, but we Oregonians don’t exactly have our sea legs just yet.

I was recently reminded of a very good tip. Keep a fair-sized trash bag under your bed that contains a flashlight, a warm shirt, pants and a good heavy pair of shoes. Secure the bag’s draw-strings to the leg of your bed so that you always know where it is. Push the bag under your bed and forget about it, until you need it. Folks underestimate the amount of breakage that can occur during a quake. Running through your house in the dark barefooted is not what you want to do with broken glass all over the place.

Last time we learned what to do during a quake. This time we’re going to take a look at what to do after the earth stops moving. Wait until the movement stops. If you’re inside a building, get out when it’s safe to do so. Spending the day at the beach? Get to high ground, and quickly. In fact, make up your mind right now to act quickly! Depending on the location and severity of the earthquake, you may only have ten minutes to get out of the tsunami zone.

Once you’ve determined that you’re ok, then look for others that need your help. You have just become a first responder. The police, fire and emergency medical personnel are going to busy elsewhere, so you’re it! How about your neighbors that may need help? Are there seniors with mobility needs? How about families with infants or special needs children. I covered this in an earlier column about mapping your neighborhood. If you have done all that, then you already know who will need assistance.

Along the way check the homes that have natural gas or propane. Inspect the control valves just in case there are any leaks. This is exactly why all the literature tells you not to light matches or candles following an earthquake and why they tell you to keep a wrench handy.

One more thought; An old saying about keeping your head while all around you others are losing theirs, is wisdom worth having. You can train yourself not to panic, your survival depends on it. The survival of others may well depend on your ability to keep your head about you. Determining now what action to take when the occasion arises will save time and quite possibly the lives of your neighbors when the time comes. As always you may contact me for comments or questions at disasterprep.dave@gmail.com.

Note: Dave Robinson is Bandon's Postmaster and has worked for the postal service for 30 years. He has a background in law enforcement, served in the Air Force in Vietnam, worked nine years for the Coos County Sheriff's Department, and serves on the Myrtle Point School Board, where he lives.

additional columns by Dave Robinson