A small earthquake, measuring 4.2 on the Richter scale, hit the Westside on June 1 and public safety officials are using the trembler to remind residents of the importance of earthquake safety.
According to a study by the County of Los Angeles Public Health Department, only 6 percent of residents said they were completely prepared for an emergency and 58 percent said they were not very or not at all prepared. Given the likelihood of a large quake in the near future, several local agencies said residents should begin to prepare as quickly as possible.
“I say start with three days (of supplies) and build up to two weeks,” said Hilary Anderson, Manager for preparedness and resilience for the American Red Cross of Los Angeles. “We don’t want to scare people but the bottom line is the next catastrophic event will throw our systems offline considerably so the more supplies you have, the better off you’ll be.”
SpcaLA said pet owners should also consider their animal’s needs when planning for a disaster.
“As spcaLA saw first-hand during Hurricane Katrina, pet owners will often risk their own safety to save their animals,” said spcaLA President, Madeline Bernstein in a statement. “Help avoid that situation by creating a disaster plan for your whole family, pets included.”
SpcaLA said prepared pet owners should microchip their pets, keep pets vaccinated, let neighbors know about pets, display an “animal inside” sign to let emergency responders know, keep current pet photos, waste removal bags and have supplies of food and medication on hand.
Ellen Rabin of Meals on Wheels West also referenced the lessons learned during past disasters like Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy in discussing preparedness.
“We learned a lot post Sandy,” she said. “The Meals on Wheels program needed to feed people for quite a long time, and like in Katrina, food became a much bigger issue. We need to make sure Meals on Wheels West can be part of the solution to help keep people nourished.”
Meals on Wheels West is partnering with Santa Monica Fire Department, Southern California Edison to distribute emergency kits to clients on June 9. Rabin said in addition to food and water, the kits include a flashlight/radio combination and emergency space blankets.
“SoCal Edison have given grant funding to Meals on Wheels West for public safety so they are funding the project but the Fire Department will help us distribute them,” said. “Firefighters are going to actually go to our clients houses by house and help us.”
Anderson said prepared residents should do more than just stockpile stuff; they should also practice how to behave during an emergency. She said families should develop a plan for exiting their residence and drill the escape plan. According to Anderson, recent studies show people have about three minutes to exit a house during a fire and as earthquakes can often start fires, any emergency drill should account for multiple scenarios.
“If you’re in a multi-unit building and you don’t have a fire escape, you need a fire safety ladder,” she said. “If you’re living in an apartment, walk the property and know the procedure for your particular building. Who turns off the gas? What is your manager responsible for?”
She said families that should start by having conversations about how to exit in an emergency but move on from there.
“Start with a conversation, write it down, but take it to the next step and test it out,” she said. “If you don’t start to practice them, they are just really great pieces of paper. You have to make sure everyone knows what’s in the plan.”
Plans should include discussions of how to react during a fire or quake. Anderson said people should drop to the ground, seek cover and hold on during a quake. The Red Cross does not recommend people stand in doorways anymore.
“Drop, cover and hold on,” she said. “Get underneath something, don’t try to run or move from where you are and protect your neck and head.”
For more information, visit the City of Santa Monica’s Office of Emergency Management at www.smgov.net/Departments/OEM/Preparedness/Preparedness_for_Residents.aspx, or the Red Cross at www.redcross.org/ca/los-angeles/programs-services/preparedness-education. For more information on Meals on Wheels West visit www.mealsonwheelswest.org.
A basic emergency kit should include:
Water – one gallon per person per, per day. Include extra for pets.
Food – choose foods that are easy to prepare, eat and store. Food should be non-perishable and should not require refrigeration. Food supplies should include any specialized diets and pet foods. Include comfort items and utensils.
Flashlight – with extra batteries
Radio – with extra batteries
First aid kit – have a basic kit but be sure to add additional non-prescription medications that might be needed such as anti-acids or pain medication. An emergency supply of prescription medications for humans and pets should also be on hand.
Hygiene items – dental supplies, soap, extra glasses or contact lens supplies, feminine supplies, garbage bags.
Experts also recommend keeping a list of important contacts in your supply kit along and storing some cash. Families should also have a means of escape, such as an emergency ladder, if needed.