Fear disasters, they’re coming

Hilary Hectrick, Staff Writer

Natural disasters are everywhere. With wildfires, floods and earthquakes happening at the drop of a hat, we need to be prepared. The earthquake that happened 10:35 p.m. Monday, Oct. 14 has me thinking, “Am I prepared?” 

We should all have a plan. We are never guaranteed that there won’t be a natural disaster where we live. Take the fire in Paradise, CA for instance. A whole city was wiped away due to a lack of preparation. PG&E could not protect their equipment from sparking, and causing a fire from trees on private property could’t be trimmed.  

Now PG&E must shut off electricity when there is high wind because people refuse to take precautions by making sure their trees aren’t touching power lines. Being ready for a wildfire includes maintenance.

According to readyforwildfire.org, there is a pre-evacuation checklist that states the following procedures for inside your home: “Shut all windows and doors, leaving them unlocked; remove flammable window shades, curtains and close metal shutters; remove lightweight curtains; move flammable furniture to the center of the room, away from windows and doors; shut off gas at the meter, turn off pilot lights; leave your lights on so firefighters can see your house under smoky conditions; [and] shut off the air conditioning.” 

Outside the home, there are precautions to take as well. Gather up all flammable items and bring them inside your home, put your emergency kit inside your vehicle, locate your propane tank and shut it off and leave your exterior lights on so firefighters can see your house. The complete list can also be found at readyforfire.org.  

Floods are another disaster that might strike at any time, especially when there is a lot of rain. According to cdc.gov, if you live in a flood-prone area, it is advised to have a friend or relative out of state that can be a family contact if anyone gets separated. It is also advised to inform local authorities of any disabled, bedridden or elderly people so that emergency personnel know who needs help evacuating.  

Another thing to be aware of is your community’s evacuation routes, shelter locations, warning signals, and emergency plans. Floods aren’t limited to geographical locations such as New Orleans. They can happen anywhere where irrigation is slow, such as a flat road, areas near a river or lake, or in front of houses where there is debris clogging the sewers and storm drains. For sewers, and storm drains, you can check them often for leaves and twigs and if they seem obstructed, call the city for help clearing them.  

In the Bay area, we are more prone to earthquakes than any other disaster. Earthquakes can happen suddenly, so it’s good to know what to do if one strikes. The easiest thing to remember is to drop, cover. When you drop, get on your hands and knees. When you cover, try to get under a table or desk. If one isn’t nearby, stay away from windows. Protect your head and neck. If you’re under a surface, hold on and protect your head and neck.

If you’re driving during an earthquake, pull over. If you’re outside, get away from buildings and stay outside. If you’re inside, stay there. The earthquake may be followed by aftershocks. Afterwards, make sure you’re not hurt, then access your building for damage. If you find damage, get out of the building. If you’re trapped, shield your mouth and nose from dust and try to get help by sending a text or make noise by banging on a wall. 

There will be another natural disaster. We may not know when, but being prepared may be what it takes to save our lives.