Drop, cover and hold on

These earthquakes are getting on everyone’s nerves. The constant waiting—going on three months now—for something major keeps some of us awake at nights. It’s a steady stream of conversation at the office, at the hardware store, at the garden nursery: Did you feel it? Did it do any damage? Oddly, though, when the question, “What have you done to prepare for the big one?” is asked, the answer is often a blank look. “Nothing? You don’t have a week’s worth of canned food and water stockpiled? Are you expecting the government to take care of you, like it did those people after Katrina? What are you, ign’ant?”

It’s important to note that some schools are not prepared with plans or stockpiled food and water, either. What if a quake is serious enough to disrupt the roads for 24 hours? Do you have a plan for your child at school? Do you know what the school’s plans are for your child?

OK, so here ya go. This is easy. Just pretend you’re preparing for Burning Man.

If you want more information about how to prepare for an earthquake, UNR’s seismic lab has good information at www.seismo.unr.edu/preparedness.html. Also check out www.earthquakecountry.info. Particularly read the Seven Steps to Earthquake Care; this editorial is essentially an abridged version of this plan.

1) Secure items now: Reducing and/or eliminating hazards throughout your home, neighborhood, workplace and school can greatly reduce your risk of injury or death following the next earthquake or other disaster.

2) Make a plan: Make sure that your emergency plan includes evacuation and reunion plans; your out-of-state contact person’s name and number; the location of your emergency supplies and other pertinent information.

3) Make disaster kits: Everyone should have disaster supplies kits stored in accessible locations at home, at work and in your vehicle. Disaster supply kits should include food, water, flashlights, portable radios, batteries, a first aid kit, cash, extra medications, a whistle, fire extinguisher, etc.

4) Is your place safe? Most houses are not as safe as they could be, and there are things that you can do to improve the structural integrity of your home.

5) Drop, cover and hold on: During earthquakes, drop to the floor, take cover under a sturdy desk or table, and hold it firmly. Be prepared to move with it.

6) Check things out: One of the first things you should do following a major disaster is to check for injuries and damages that need immediate attention. Get trained in first aid and in damage assessment techniques. You should be able to administer first aid and to identify hazards such as damaged gas, water, sewage and electrical lines.

7) Communicate and recover: Following a major disaster, communication will be an important step in your recovery efforts. Turn on your portable radio for information and safety advisories.

Here are a few more things to think about: When stockpiling supplies, don’t forget to have a week’s worth of food and water for the pets (water: one gallon per person per day for humans). Don’t forget to buy batteries for flashlights. It’s a good idea to have a crescent wrench near the gas cut off valve (it’s near the bottom of the thing with the dials on the side of the house). Don’t forget about contact lenses or medicine; it may be awhile before you can get a prescription filled.