While I usually write to you about hormones or other topics directly related to Age Management Medicine, today I feel compelled to write about something very different. Disaster preparedness. Specifically earthquake preparedness, since much of my practice serves clients in California.
Last weekend I was at a medical conference where a presentation on disaster preparedness was aimed at doctors and our roles post disaster. The data shocked me.
According to seismologists, California has more than a 99% chance of having a magnitude 6.7 or greater earthquake in the next 30 years. The southern extension of the San Andreas Fault, which extends from Monterey County to the Salton Sea, is now capable of an 8.1 or greater magnitude earthquake. According to Thomas Jordan, Director of the Southern California Earthquake Center, the San Andreas Fault is “locked and loaded.”
This means “The Big One” In California could happen anywhere between the next 10 minutes and the next 30 years.
The earthquake in Northern Japan on March 11, 2011 was 9.0 on the Richter Scale. Ten days later, nearly 900,000 households were still without water and 250,000 households were without power. The estimated economic cost was US$235 billion dollars. Staggering statistics.
Despite the fact that there were some key differences, we learned some valuable lessons from that earthquake. One of the biggest lessons learned is that basic supplies shortages will affect areas far from the epicenter. Many of the things we take forgranted (food, water, shelter, transportation, communication) can be gone in a moment if a major earthquake hits.
Preparedness is Key
There are a number of suggestions that I’d like to pass along to you:
1. Have enough water. 1 gallon of water/day per person for drinking. Store enough water for 30 days. Also have a water purification kit or unscented liquid bleach (eight drops per gallon when water is first stored)
2. Maintain canned/non-perishable food supply (and a manual can opener) . Ideally, 2000 calories of food/day per person. Canned beans, protein bars, canned meat, canned vegetables. As with water, food may not be readily available for an extended period after a significant disaster. Make your food supply count and emphasize nutrient dense choices.
3. Maintain a one month supply of critical medications. Pharmacy services as well as transportation of pharmaceuticals (and other goods) will very likely be disrupted. Experts encourage you to have a 30 day supply of any necessary, life saving medications available. Make sure you check the expiration dates and rotate your stored supply as necessary.
4. Create an earthquake kit or box containing, at the minimum:
- First aid kit and handbook
- Comfortable/practical change of clothes
- Sturdy shoes
- Blankets or sleeping bags
- Portable radio and flashlight, with spare batteries
- Extra pair of eyeglasses
- Extra set of house and car keys
- Toilet paper, toiletries and feminine hygiene items
- Cash in small bills and small change
- Small tool kit
- Books, deck of cards, games
While this list may seem simple, most people don’t have even these basics on hand. Take some time this weekend to talk to your loved ones about a preparedness plan and to stock these necessities.
You can purchase self-contained earthquake kits online: http://www.earthquakestore.com/emergency-deluxe-kits.php
Here are some additional resources for more information and access to disaster preparedness information. You and your loved ones are worth the investment of a bit of forethought when it comes to being prepared.