Posts Tagged ‘Earthquake’

Preparedness Checklist for 2018

Wednesday, December 20th, 2017

Lists work. They’re easy to figure out, satisfying to check off. Here’s one to get us all going toward some new levels of preparedness for 2018.

Review or reminder?

For a few people, this will be review. But for most of us, at least one of these items will cause a grimace or even a slap of the forehead because we know we should already have dealt with it!

There are more ideas and resources below the chart. But take a quick first look.

Which item should be first on your list?

Preparedness Checklist for 2018More resources for items on the list.

  1. Homeowners’ insurance may not cover water damage to the stuff in your basement. Neither may flood insurance! If you rent, what about the items stored in your “cage” in the parking garage? You will never really know what’s covered until you pull out your policy and go over it with your insurance agent. Here’s an Advisory that will give you more questions to ask about any insurance:
    Flood Damage Not Covered By Insurance
  2. What was a good place to head for last year may have changed. Update your plans, particularly if you have children. Pick an assembly place nearby – like the big oak tree at the back of the lot – and another place further down the block or even across town. Can your family members FIND these places without the maps in their phones?
    Get Out Now — Family Evacuation Plan
  3. Every homemaker knows this, and knows how to do it. In a survival kit, just pull and replace everything! (You may discover that more and more canned items now are self-opening. Yay!) On the kitchen shelves, load at the back, eat from the front. Basta.
  4. I finally got far enough ahead on my blood pressure pills to have 10 days’ worth stored in my survival kit. But they’ve been there a while . . . And as we all know, over time pills lose their effectiveness, band aids lose their stick, bottles dry out, tubes ooze. Your first aid kit could actually do you harm if it’s not up to speed.
    First Aid Kit Failure
  5. Seems as though it would be easy to run outside in a fire, doesn’t it? But people are trapped and burned every day. Practice with your family! Make sure you know two exits from every room, how to get down from the second floor. What’s your agreed-upon signal for a home invasion threat? Every individual needs to know how to respond. If all your children know is to come screaming for you, you have NOT trained them properly.
    Escape from Burning House
  6. People around you could turn into rescuers – and even into friends. It can’t hurt to be open to meeting more of them. Besides, it’s just a neighborly thing to do. And if you have a neighborhood emergency response team, invite them to come and find out more.
    Build a neighborhood team
  7. Memorize important phone numbers. Assume phones won’t be available in a car wreck, a storm, or an earthquake. Memorizing is healthy brain activity, too!
  8. Computer companies compete to be your back-up service. But where do they PUT your files, and how to you access them if your computer has been destroyed? Have at least 3 back-up methods: onto your own computer, onto a separate physical hard drive stored off-site, and into the cloud. Test whatever procedure you have put into place. Just having a COPY of something doesn’t mean you can necessarily start right back up to work.
  9. Did you know that if one roommate applies for relief from FEMA, the other roommate may not be eligible? Do you know who would have to sign off for you to get an insurance payout on your house? We all tend to let legal questions linger . . . 2018 is the year to clean legal issues up for a number of reasons, not least of all to get them off your mind.
    Legal problems surface after flood
  10. Emergency preparedness isn’t supposed to be all long faces and determined expressions. It’s supposed to be positive!  What would be fun for you and your family? Learning to tie knots? Identify edible plants? Start a fire without matches? Operate a HAM radio? Take a course in basic self-defense? Do the CERT training? Every one of these skills will improve your knowledge, improve your confidence, and make you better prepared for any emergency!
    Tie the right knot!
    Ham radio operators play key role
    Self-defense for the rest of us

OK, I think that should do it!  Post this list somewhere handy, so you won’t overlook these items. What else should we add to the list? Just let us know in the comments!

Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

P.S. While we’re still on the positive aspects of preparedness, don’t miss my most recent Top Ten list!  It’s a collection of comfy camping items that would make ANY trip so much more pleasant — and fun!  Here’s the direct link:



Maybe you missed this? Tsunami warnings.

Thursday, April 6th, 2017

tsunami evacuation routeIt turns out that last week, March 27-31, was California’s 2017 Tsunami Preparedness Week.  While you may think tsunamis don’t apply to you personally, WAIT before you click away!

Who could find themselves in a Tsunami Danger Zone?

Maybe a LOT more people than you think!

In the U.S. several states are at risk for tsunamis: Hawaii, Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and California. And think of the US business travelers and tourists heading to Japan, Thailand, Singapore!

You could easily find yourself caught up in a tsunami inundation zone, anywhere in the Pacific Ocean’s “Ring of Fire” countries.

My son was caught in the tsunami that hit the Pacific in 2004. He was vacationing in Thailand. As he reported it live on Larry King (!), he saw a “strange long wave” forming way out in the bay. He even paused to take a photo without realizing that the wave was bearing down on the beach much faster than he could run.

Yes, he was caught, washed off his feet and pushed into a building, where he was able to clamber up above the water and wait until it went down. He was young and strong and lucky. He lost only a shoe and a camera.

Over 230,000 people around the Indian Ocean weren’t so lucky. They lost their lives. This little map shows just how far that tsunami reached! 

That was in 2004, and many Americans really didn’t know how to recognize a tsunami.

My son didn’t. He would now, though, and you should be able to, too.

Do you know these three telltale warning signs?

1-A tsunami is typically caused by an earthquake. So, if you feel one, or hear news about one – or about a volcanic eruption, a big landslide or even a meteor hit – you need to be ready to act immediately.

2-You may not feel the earthquake, but you may see water receding, dead fish on the beach, or even hear the sound of an approaching wave.

3-You may see the giant tsunami wave approaching. It can be as high as 100 ft. and travel at 500 miles per hour! Often, the longer the tsunami travels, and the closer it gets to shore, the bigger and stronger the waves get. They don’t look like a regular wave that crests and breaks. Rather, the wave is more like a line of foam being pushed by a half-submerged building.

What to do if you see or expect a tsunami.

There’s no way to outrun a tsunami if you are on the ground when it hits. The only safely lies in getting away, to higher ground, BEFORE it hits. That means:

Heed tsunami warnings. In the United States, an NOAA Weather Radio might be the first to broadcast an alert. (Check out NOAA radios here.) Local radio and TV stations will also be issuing warnings. Some places have tsunami warning sirens.

Instantly get to high ground. Tsunami waves can reach far inland, carrying debris and destruction. Your goal is to get out of its clutches entirely by getting far away from the beach (often not possible), or by getting and staying above the height of the water. A hill or mountain is best; if necessary, climb to the fourth floor or roof of a steel-reinforced building.

Yes, some people have survived by climbing trees, but in many cases the trees are simply not tall enough to provide safety.

If you’re in a boat when the earthquake hits or you hear a tsunami warning, you have several options depending on how much lead time you have. No lead time? Head for a depth of 50 fathoms (300 ft) or more and monitor your radio. Boat owners, get more important details at

Stay in a safe place until all danger has passed. This could mean for several hours or even days. A tsunami is made up of many waves; don’t assume it’s over once waters have receded after the first big wave hits. People returning to their homes or to port to save personal items have been caught by the second wave.

How to prepare before a tsunami hits.

If you live in a potential tsunami zone, or are simply visiting, here are recommendations from the California Dept. of Conservation and from Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources:

  1. Know if you are in a tsunami zone. In the US, you can check at Or check the World Map at
  2. Find out what warnings you might expect from the community. Make sure everyone in your group knows what they are.
  3. Study the recommended evacuation routes – from your home, hotel and/or office. (Familiarize yourself with the signs, shown at the beginning of this Advisory.)
  4. Practice your evacuation route, particularly in an unfamiliar city. Remember, the tsunami could hit at night, knocking out all lights. It could also knock out bridges or roads, so you might need an alternate route to get to high ground. Everyone needs to understand the evacuation route, since you will not have time to track down other family members before you set out.
  5. Do you have children in school? Find out about school evacuation procedures.

Have an emergency kit ready, and grab it as you evacuate.

There is no time to pack personal items – you need to grab ONE thing and start moving immediately. Remember, you may have to wait for hours or days before the ALL CLEAR is sounded and you can return to your hotel or home.

Need more encouragement or suggestions? Many organizations sponsor special Tsunami Preparation Days and Weeks. Check this year’s calendar, shown in blue above.

This Advisory has been pretty straightforward and non-dramatic. If you don’t remember the images of the tsunami that hit Japan in 2011, it might be worth your while to take a look at these 8 minutes of drama

The video clip, taken at an ordinary coastal city, starts off slow and easy . . . and then you just can’t believe the water coming, and coming, and coming . . . 8 minutes will give you an unforgettable idea of how a tsunami really behaves.

Pass along this information to friends and family – and stay safe! When World Tsunami Awareness Day comes on November 5, think back to some of the details you learned about here!

Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

P.S. While we’re talking about tsunamis and earthquakes, did you know that April 26 is National Richter Scale Day!




Battery Failure Ruins Flashlight

Thursday, November 10th, 2016

We Test More Batteries

If you’ve been following our blog entries you know that over two years ago we ran some tests on our Emergency Response Team’s battery purchases and the batteries’ life expectancy.

Battery failure

Recent failure of one battery ruined the entire flashlight

What we found was that performance between Duracell and EverReady batteries was pretty much equal, and both outperformed their private label versions sold through the big box stores (Costco & Sam’s Club).

The one dramatic difference was a higher failure rate (i.e. leakage and corrosive damage to our radios, flashlights and other tools that we relied on) for the Duracell batteries than for the EverReady batteries.

It’s important to note here that our Neighborhood Emergency Response Team typically has close to sixty active volunteers. We issue each team member a radio (FRS/GMRS) and a flashlight. We run active monthly drills with the radios and recommend that members check their batteries regularly and change them twice annually. The result is that we spend almost $1,400.00 annually on AA, AAA, C & D batteries and replacement radios, flashlights and other devices.

Batteries Die and Fail

While most batteries simply die and are unable to produce sufficient voltage or current to power the devices, we experience a 15% (+) failure due leakage and corrosion. We are able to “repair” about half of the radios using baking soda & water paste applied with Q-tips to dissolve the corrosion confined to the battery compartments. Flashlights are usually a total loss.

You can easily see an example of corrosion on the black flashlight in the photo. It takes a sharper eye to spot the point of failure of the Premium AAA Duracell battery. The arrow points to the cavity where the casing failed at the bottom (negative pole), under the silver strip.

We Switch to Premium Batteries

Lately we have been using only the premium Duracells (red/gold, 10-yr guaranteed shelf life) since the EverReady batteries are no longer available through Sam’s Club (where we used to find the best price). Our hope was that by purchasing the higher-priced premium Duracells, we would experience a longer life and a reduced failure rate. So far we have no evidence that this will indeed be the case and, to date, the failure rate seems to be about the same as the regular Duracells.

As of this week we are stocking up on additional EverReady, Amazon, Ikea and Orchard Supply Hardware batteries to measure longevity. We will share our methodology and results in a future post.

And, while the comparison on battery failure rate will take longer to measure, the results will be more anecdotal since the sample size of our tests will be smaller and subject to individual team members’ actual usage and care patterns. We will share our experience in this regard as well with the caveat that it’s not possible to completely separate individual user habits from the failure rate experience.

Joe Krueger
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

P.S. If you’re asking yourself why we don’t use rechargeable batteries, that’s a good question. But we think the answer makes sense. It’s this: We’ll only be using these radios and flashlights in a real emergency – most likely, after a major earthquake. We expect all power to be out for an extended period, days if not weeks. As soon as our rechargeables are dead (and they don’t last as long as disposables, anyway), we’ll be stuck. We don’t want that to happen! (Yes, we DO have some solar chargers. That’s a topic for another Advisory!)

P.P.S. If you are interested in the results of our planned test, be sure to sign up below to get our weekly Advisories.

Secure Your Space

Tuesday, October 4th, 2016

The Great ShakeOut Hits California

Our community is “celebrating” the annual earthquake drill here in California on October 20. We are joining a crowd of 9.4 million participants (so far).

Secure Your SpacePlus, just two days ago we emerged from a heightened earthquake alert resulting from a swarm of 140+ small quakes near the base of the San Andreas Fault. That’s the seismic fault that’s going to give birth to the long-overdue “Big One.”

So it seems time to take another look around the house to Secure Your Space, as the ShakeOut people say.

We put together a worksheet for our neighbors, and I thought it would be a good tool to share with all our Emergency Plan Guide readers.

(The form I created for our neighborhood group has a space for recommendations to be made by a handyman that we’ve engaged to go to people’s homes. The version shown at the left in this Advisory is a little different. It figures YOU will be making the changes, hence the “to-do list” terminology!)

No and Low Cost Recommendations for Quake Safety

These are all pretty straightforward. It just takes setting a time for a “walk-through” and then making obvious changes to your living space.

As you do your walk-through, look at furniture placement, and not just heavy or decorative items that could fall and break.

When we returned home after the San Francisco quake in 1989, one of the most dramatic things that had happened was we couldn’t get into the bedroom because a bookcase had fallen over, completely blocking the door.

Handyman Help for Quake Safety

You may or may not already be a handyperson, so some of these suggestions may require that you get a few simple tools. Generally, the idea is to stand in the middle of the room and imagine that everything loose starts flying at you.

How do you tether or fasten down the items that could hurt you?

Keep in mind:

• Flexible fasteners may be better than stiff ones, which can break in a large jolt.
• Rubberized pads may stop heavier items from shooting across the room, but of course won’t keep them from falling to the floor.
• A wire barrier or a lip may keep items on a shelf as long as the shelf stays on the wall.

This Secure Your Space list is aimed at simple things you can do to improve your chances. It doesn’t get into major improvements, like blocking and strapping your water heater, or reinforcing your foundation. We’ve covered some of those elsewhere.

Today, let’s just take care of a few items that should not be left unaddressed.

Need a shopping list of earthquake safety items?

Here are some items from Amazon. You could click on the links, order them all, or items like them, get them delivered within just a couple of days, and have everything you need for an earthquake safety family activity!

Picture or Mirror Hanger

The usual hardware or hobby pack of picture hangers is designed for light pictures, but the sawtooth version of a hanger, or any hanger that counts on simple gravity to hold the wire on the hook, will not be adequate in an earthquake. You are looking for something that can carry 50, 70 or maybe even 100 pounds, and keep it on the wall!  Here are some ideas for hanging heavy items.

Hangman 3-Inch 100-Pound Walldog Wire Hanger (WDH-100-2)

And the wire to go with it . . .
Hillman Fasteners 121128 Mirror Hanging Set Heavy Duty

Big Stuff on Shelves

When it comes to electronics on the shelves in our office, we start with rubberized mats under our printers and computers. We also have a mat under the one desktop tower that is still on the desk. (The other tower is on the floor.) I also use rubberized shelf paper in the kitchen under my plates, and actually between some of the serving platters.

I really love this stuff. Get enough of it because you’ll find many uses for it.

VViViD Non-Slip Rubberized Plastic Mesh Shelf and Drawer Liner Non-Adhesive Sheets (12″ x 20ft, White)

Appliances and Furniture

I said above that for our computers, we “start” with rubberized mats. The next step is to fasten all appliances and furniture down with flexible safety straps, so they won’t go anywhere when the world starts shaking.  Of course, what you use to fasten things down depends on their size, their weight, where they are located (how far to a wall stud), etc.

TV monitors are probably the most likely thing to fly in an earthquake. Tie ’em down! Next most important are bookcases, appliances and other furniture. Here are several models of straps and cables to consider.

QuakeHOLD! 4520 Universal Flat Screen Safety Straps

Quakehold! 4163 15-Inch Furniture Strap Kit, Beige

Quakehold! 2830 7-Inch Steel Furniture Cable

And one model of strap (not from Quakehold!) that seems to be all-purpose:

TV and Furniture Anti-Tip Straps | Top Quality Heavy Duty Strap, All Metal Parts | All Flat Screen TV/Furniture Mounting Hardware Included | Lifetime Guarantee (2 Pack, Black)

Objets d’art and Collectibles

Every home has a shelf or cupboard with beloved figurines, plates, vases, whatever. If the shelf falls, or the cupboard opens, these precious items will be destroyed. So, some suggestions:

  • Can you place these objects in a closed cupboard instead of on an open shelf?
  • Run a wire or fishing line barrier along the front of the shelf to keep books from falling.
  • Add a simple lock to be sure the cupboard or cabinet door won’t swing open in an earthquake. (Check under “child-proofing your kitchen.”)

Most important, “glue” treasures down with museum wax from your local hardware or craft store. It holds!

Quakehold! 66111 2-Ounce Museum Wax


I mentioned above what we found in the bedroom when we got home after the 1989 earthquake. In the kitchen was an astonishing mess of broken dishes, broken jars of pickles and peaches, flour and spices, appliances and potted plants.

Again, all kitchens are slightly different. Do a kitchen walk-through. What could fall or move? What will happen if cupboard doors come open? Moving heavy items to lower shelves is the obvious first step. Selectively applying child-proof locks or safety straps may be the next best improvement.

A Weekend’s Worth of Work

Doing the appropriate moving, measuring, drilling and installing will take more than 5 minutes. Depending on your level of skill and interest, it might take all day or even all weekend.

But all it would take is one good shake and EVERYTHING ON THIS LIST  — mirrors, pictures, bookcases, furniture, computers, cupboards, TVs, food, glassware, souvenirs, collections — could end up in a jumble of broken trash in the middle of the room. And you’ll be lucky if you aren’t in it somewhere.

So, join in your own region’s Great ShakeOut and make some safety improvements. You’ll sleep better for your efforts.

Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

I mentioned some articles on more serious infrastructure improvements for your home. Check these out:



Camp Stoves in a Disaster

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

Cooking in an Emergency

I wrote last week about having an earthquake expert as a guest speaker at our recent neighborhood meeting. Part of his presentation was a map showing the major earthquake faults in Southern California. Naturally, we traced the famous San Andreas Fault – and saw how our water supply lines cross it 32 times coming from Northern California!

When the “big one” hits, we are going to be without water and likely without power (Both electric and gas lines also crisscross the fault.) for weeks.

No power? That makes cooking tough.

I pulled out our emergency stoves. We have two of them, collected over the years.

Three burner camp stoveThe first is the trusty Coleman stove. We have a three-burner which makes it really convenient. The photo shows how my small pot fits on the stove; with those three burners, we can use a large frying pan or even a griddle. Sometimes adjusting the flame takes some careful effort.

One, two or three burners?

One burner camp stoveOur second stove is a one-burner model that we purchased across the street at an Asian market. It is smaller than the three-burner (Note the pot and the gallon of water that appear in each photo for comparison.) and it weighs half as much, making it easier to pack and carry.

Still, with just one burner, I’m juggling pots and having to be creative with one-dish meals. The gas canister doesn’t last as long, either.

With either stove, we can accomplish the essentials: boil water for coffee, cook ramen noodles with dried vegetables (from the same Asian market), and have enough water left over for some washing up.

Which model stove is best?

When you really start cooking outdoors, of course, you have to consider more than size or number of burners. Consider these features:

  1. How stable is the stove? Will it slip, tilt, bend?
  2. How much fuel do I need to store? (Test to measure how fast you go through the canister.) Does the stove have an automatic ignition, or do I need matches?
  3. What kinds/size pots can I use? Do I need special utensils? What about a hot pad?
  4. Do I have bowls and silverware? (Remember the spork – combo spoon and fork, extremely convenient.)
  5. How about cooking oil? Are non-stick pans really non-stick?

Check out our Emergency Plan Guide store to see some typical stoves and learn more about comparing cooking equipment.

The most important part is the reminder to TEST YOUR STOVE before the emergency hits! Of course, remember that camping stoves need to be used outdoors and not inside.

Don’t wait until the next earthquake, or the next big electrical outage to get your cooking arranged, because by then stores may be closed or empty. How about buying a camp stove as an early Father’s Day or Mother’s Day present?

Let me know your experience with your OWN stove/s and we’ll share it here.

your Emergency Plan Guide team


Retrofit Your Home to Prevent Earthquake Damage

Monday, May 20th, 2013

Are you a homeowner, property owner, remodeler or home builder, or home energy specialist? Take three and one-half minutes to watch this video showing retrofit steps for protecting a home against damage from earthquake and winter storms.

Remodel home for earthquake

Click image to see 3 minute video on home remodel

The video was posted on YouTube by the Canadian Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR) in partnership with Desjardins Insurance.

Most of the steps are simple and would apply to ALL homes, no matter where they are located. As an owner, you could consider having these changes made to your home or rental properties.  As a member of the construction industry, you might want to recommend these changes to customers.

Some of the work you could do yourself, like installing a fire extinguisher. (The video recommends “at least one in every home.” We think you probably need more than one: in the kitchen, for sure, but in the garage, too, or in the laundry room area.)

You would need a licensed professional’s help for some of the other items, like installing a generator or snow melting system along the roof edge.

Even if you aren’t in an area prone to earthquakes, a number of the suggestions in the video will apply, enhancing your home’s security and safety as well as your ability to function in a number of emergency situations. In some cases, making these improvements might even give you a discount on home insurance costs.

If this video is of interest to you, you may also want to review these more detailed home improvement advisories. Whatever you can do to protect your home will help you sleep better at night. Plus, it may help with the resale value!

What other improvements do you think people should consider? Drop your suggestions into the comments box below!


Virginia Nicols
Emergency Plan Guide Team

Business Owner – Do you employ drivers?

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

Where will your driver be when the disaster hits?

Delivering services to homebound seniors

At a meeting last week at the local American Red Cross, we were discussing a new program aimed at preparing the senior community for disaster.

Most of the people in the room represented companies that deliver services to homebound seniors. There were folks from Meals-on-Wheels, SeniorServ, and a whole group of home health care providers.

Home health care staff members drive from home to home to assist their elderly clients. In the case of an earthquake disaster, these drivers will likely be on the road in their car or in the home of a client when the earthquake hits. The drivers will NOT be at their own home, and they will NOT be at their employer’s office.

Homes with few if any resources

These senior clients are people who, by definition, are not self-sufficient. They may be disabled or frail. This means that the driver, caught in the home with the client, will be faced with taking care of the client as well as him or herself.

If the driver is on the road when the earthquake hits, what is her responsibility? To continue on to the client’s home when possible? Return to the office? Or head for home to join the family?

Responsibility of the employer

This situation raises several issues for the employer that need to be addressed through training or investment in appropriate emergency supplies and equipment. Based on the group at the American Red Cross meeting, there was no one correct answer. But everyone agreed that these questions DID deserve consideration, and a positive answer.

1. Do your drivers all have an emergency supplies kit in their vehicle?

2. Does the kit contain enough to share with a client?

3. Are your drivers clear about their responsibility to their clients in the case of an emergency?

4. Do you know how you will communicate with your drivers in an emergency?

5. Do you have a plan for communicating with your clients’ families in an emergency?

Are you an employer with drivers?

What emergency preparations have you made to cover your staff and your customers?  What liability do you feel you carry as the employer?  Please share!



Emergency Supplies List

Friday, February 15th, 2013

If you’re looking for a checklist, you’ll find many, many of them online. FEMA offers up a 26-item list; the American Red Cross has a 36-item list, and different commercial companies (selling tools, pre-made kits, insurance, dried food)  have their own lists, some of which extend to hundreds of items.

Different lists serve different purposes

Comprehensive checklist

Page One of list

Over the years we have created or used different lists for different purposes. For example,

* At an introductory neighborhood meeting, you may wish to distribute a simple, one-page list with items that apply to everyone and that won’t appear too intimidating.

* In a community where people have had some training, a more comprehensive list would be a good idea. (We wrote earlier about the “door-hanger list” that we created for our community.) Naturally, adding items appropriate for the geography would make sense: rain gear, for example, or cold-weather gear.

* In a senior community, a list might focus on items that apply to older people: 14-day supply of medicines (and how to get your doctor to give you extras), extra eyeglasses, batteries for hearing aids, etc.

* A community with pets needs a completely different set of reminders. (You can get a copy of our Emergency Pet Supplies Kit here.)

* A quick reminder card, useful for teaching, might have only a half-dozen items or a specific, focused list of supplies (for example, what you need in your first aid kit).

Our Emergency Supplies List

The Emergency Plan Guide has prepared its own comprehensive list. We have found that breaking it into three sections makes it easier for people to focus on. The three sections are:

 17 basic items for a 3-day emergency

 11 more categories for managing an extended, 14-day emergency

 10 essentials to take if you must evacuate

What’s important is to get your list, and then take the time to see what’s missing from it based on your family’s needs. Add those items to the list, and start assembling!

Like many families, you may need to prepare not only for the three situations listed above, but you may also want to put together specialty kits to carry in your cars, for students away from home, or for the office.

Get started now!

There is no time to assemble emergency supplies after the earthquake, after the storm has hit, after the fire has forced you out of your home.  Action item:  Download the Emergency Supplies Checklist and get started.

Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

P.S.  I am not called the “Queen of Lists” for nothing!  Stick around Emergency Plan Guide and you will discover a number of them. Lists help me think, and keep me on track.  I hope you’ll find them useful, too!


Improving Building Safety – Interior

Tuesday, December 25th, 2012

Preparing Inside the Home

There is no guarantee that you’ll be home when the “big one” hits. But if your home has been prepared to withstand an earthquake or storm, you’ll find more there to appreciate when you DO get back.

I rode through the 1989 quake in the S.F. Bay Area in a restaurant. We came out shaken but unhurt. A couple of hours later I dropped off my colleague at her apartment. I went in with her. It was amazing.

The kitchen looked as though a whirling dervish had gone through every cabinet and cupboard and just tugged and thrown things out into the middle of the room. Broken glasses of relish and jam were mixed with dishes and pots and pans; fruit was mushed in with books and flour and, I remember, a broken bottle of vinegar. Broken flowerpots, broken fishbowl. (Who know where the fish was?) Plates and cups smashed, with a colander lying on top of them. Half the leftovers from the refrigerator, its door hanging open. Everything already starting to smell and spoil.

What a mess!

Large cabinet with metal tiedowns

Secure heavier items

Step One — Take a Safety Inventory.

To start to prepare your house, simply do a walkthrough and take an inventory of WHAT WILL FALL OUT OR FALL OVER?

Step Two — Build Your Action List.

Now, systematically begin securing your home against this potential damage. Here are some ideas and some of the tools or equipment you’ll need.

* Rearrange storage. Put heavy things on lower shelves, precious things behind cabinet doors. Keep dangerous or toxic materials in low cabinets, too.

* Get latches for your cabinets. Easy, cheap to install.

* Use adhesive putty (“Museum putty”) to pin down collectibles or art work on shelves.

* Strap down computers, monitors and TV screens. (Over 300 people were killed from falling TVs last year, not even in earthquakes!) Strapping kits are available at home improvement stores.

* Fasten bookcases and wardrobes to the wall. Our recent purchase of bookcases at Ikea automatically included earthquake angle brackets.

* Keep books on the shelves, even if the bookcase doesn’t fall over. String a piece of fishing line across the shelf in front of the books, or use specially designed elastic cords.

* Wine bottles?  Take a good look at your wine collection. Figure a way to restrain the bottles by enclosing them.

* Your refrigerator or dish washer may creep or fall in an earthquake. You can fasten it to the wall (to the studs) using plumber’s tape (metal straps with holes) or Velcro fasteners. Get some expert advice here before you attach anything to the refrigerator back.

If you’ve read this far, you realize that each house is different.

Action item: Do the walk-through today! If you have children, enlist their help. Start taking steps to make your home safer. (You’ll sleep better as a result, too.)

Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

P.S. You’ll find some specific recommendations for safety fasteners, straps, etc. right  here.



Three Ways to Survive an Earthquake, Continued

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

Continued  from Three Ways to Survive an Earthquake. . .

So we’ve looked briefly at Triangle of Life, and at Drop, Cover and Hold On.  What about the third option, that old standby:

3.  Get Under a Doorway.

In the “old” days, an exterior doorway in a brick or adobe building might have been the only place that was reinforced.  Today, that could still be the case — but you won’t really know. And frankly, if you’ve ever been in an earthquake (which I have), you discover that it’s really tough to move across a room to a doorway in the first place.  And if you do happen to be conveniently standing there when the quake hits, you will immediately discover that a swinging door may want to take the same spot you are in.

So which option is best?

The fact is that they all may be right in some circumstances and wrong in others.  Just like no two earthquakes are identical, so too are no two buildings the same or sited in the same relation to the quake.  Around the world and even within the United States building codes, styles and ages change with nearly every different building you enter.

While videos of collapsing buildings and freeways make for compelling news coverage, most deaths and injuries occur from falling or flying household items, appliances or debris, the effects of which could have been mitigated by securing these items before a major quake!

Back to Copp and the Triangle of Life.  The major criticism of his theory seems to be that the time it takes to find a suitable location puts you in greater danger. (The fact that he, himself, seems to have tried to manipulate the data, and actually defraud FEMA, doesn’t help his case.) Yes, if you spend most of your days and nights in the same place (or are border-line neurotic) you may know the best place to head for.  But most of us aren’t likely to survey every location we traverse through for the best ToL spot, room-by-room and building-by-building.

What we do know is that split-second decisions can make the difference between life and death in a major calamity. You do not have time to figure out a place to be. And you are not likely to be able to even get there.

In conclusion, I have only three pieces of advice.

First, if the earthquake hits before you have time to pursue the controversy, DROP, COVER and HOLD ON. Do it immediately, without trying to move to another place or another room.

Second, if you’re still interested, go to the Wikipedia article on the Triangle of Life and slog your way through the whole thing.  It’s full of references and sources for different opinions and some of them seem reasonable for certain situations.

And third, welcome the controversy!  The fact that ToL is controversial means that it’s a great centerpiece for discussions that will raise people’s awareness.  That alone will undoubtedly save some people’s lives by getting them to think about the real dangers of earthquakes before they experience a serious one.


Joe Krueger
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team


Just who IS responsible for your survival during and following a major disaster?

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

We all tend to look to the government . . .

Not stopping for ME?!?

There is a tendency to look to the government at all levels for protection from calamities and disasters of all kinds.  We may complain about taxes, but we want the police and fire protections. This is not an unreasonable expectation . . .but within reason. No society can afford to provide 100% protection for all of its citizens against all manner of risks.

First job of police and fire after an earthquake is not to help. 

Following a major earthquake, for example, the first job of the police and fire is to survey – as best they can – their entire area of responsibility and establish priorities for search and rescue, fire suppression and restoration of order.

High on their list will be the civic command center, hospitals, schools, industries where fire and chemical contamination risks are highest, etc.

There are only so many fire trucks, ambulances and police cars available . . . and many roads may simply be impassable.  This survey activity may take hours — and during it, you may see police and fire trucks drive right by without stopping.

We are somewhere down the survey list, depending on the overall makeup of our communities.

Everyone must, therefore, take a certain amount of responsibility for their own well being. That means having enough food, water, medicines and clothing on hand to survive until a community’s infrastructure can be restored.

In the initial minutes and hours following a disaster it’s up to you.

The reality is that you are the best hope a trapped or injured neighbor has to survive in those early critical minutes following a major emergency . . . and they are YOUR best hope of survival if you (or other members of your work or family) are in need of immediate help. While most communities in the U.S. and many parts of the world protect their Good Samaritan citizens from being sued for trying to help people in need, the more training you have in basic light search & rescue techniques, first aid, etc., the more likely you are to be of genuine assistance and the less likely to make fatal mistakes. You need to think about this long and hard before you pass up the opportunity to participate in a survival plan for your neighborhood and/or work.

Our goal with this website is to remind our readers and neighbors about this responsibility.

Joe Krueger
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team