By Patte Rae
On the heels of fire chief George Monroe’s KMUD show on disaster preparedness we wanted to outline what we do locally and what you can do to better help yourself in an emergency situation.
Are you aware that:
The Southern Humboldt Emergency Preparedness Team (SHEPT) meets every month?
We are the ears of the community. In the event of a major disaster we gather information to relay to EOC (Emergency Operation Center) in Eureka.
Information is gathered by HAM radio operators in each pocket community. HAM radios are located at the schools, volunteer fire departments and personal HAM operators. Community members can give information about roads/bridges that are open or closed to these HAM operators. Operators would also request medical assistance if injuries need a higher level of care. Become familiar with their web page www.sharc-ca.org. Be aware that cell phones may not be usable. The old CB (citizen’s band) radio or FSR (Family Service Radio) is good for your local community if you do not have a HAM license. FSR can be purchased at Costco for $60/pair.
We have designated shelters/meeting spaces in 18 of our local pocket communities. The schools and fire stations meet this criteria. There are comfort stations for folks to meet in town. Healy Center and Redway Baptist Church are two of these.
Remember that responders first take care of their family and then their community. It is important that we take responsibility for being prepared. This involves food, water, medical and shelter for minimum of three days, but two weeks or a month would be better yet.
There are 18 Red Cross community members trained in shelter operations. Upon notification from Eureka Red Cross we would open where they felt the need would be most beneficial. Most of us would shelter in home unless there is substantial damage to our homes that would not allow us to stay there.
Remember that we can become isolated just by winter storms. The unpredictable weather patterns as of late give us good reason to practice these steps in preparedness.
Food for family and pets: Remember comfort food, especially for children. There are five-gallon buckets of dehydrated food available at Winco for $65. It is a good start. Online there are many resources. Stocking your pantry with an extra can of this or that every time you shop can also achieve a stock of food. Rice, beans, and lentils are all good.
Water: A gallon a day per person. This allows a half-gallon for drinking, the other half-gallon for cooking/sanitary purposes. A water filter is always a good idea. Amazon offers a lifestraw personal water filter for $20, easy to keep with you.
Medical: A good first aid kit is a must, how to use it is even more important! Again, make your own by lists that are available from Red Cross or FEMA online or buy a kit. I add homeopathic remedies, essential oils, tinctures of different sorts. Prescription meds should be included here.
Take a CPR and first aid class. Many folk have difficulty getting to classes. There is a simple way if you have Internet access to achieve this. The website is www.procpr.org. Watch the introduction video and click on training link. It has video segments that are short and to the point. It is free unless you want to get a certification. To get a discount on a certification put norcal in the discount code area.
Shelter: Most of us will shelter at home. A good idea is to have a large garbage container (with lid and wheels) that can hold items that you would want to be able to grab and use. There are content lists available for this as well. Tarp, plastic, duct tape, work gloves, extra clothing/shoes, blankets (those emergency blankets are great, do not take up room and are available at the Blue Moon or Shelter Cove VFD for $1). Hand crank/battery operated radio, flashlights/batteries, matches, tools for turning off propane/gas... you see where I am going with this. Items you may need in one area for quick access.
What is being offered is basic information and suggestions to help you get started. It is by no means an end-all of what you can do to become prepared.
Last, but not least is it is important to know your neighbors. Working together with combined resources can make the difference of how well you can fare in an emergency. If there are elders or folks with special needs that live in your community take time to check in on them, be a good neighbor.
SoHum is known for our resiliency, a little preparedness and the rest we can roll with.
Patte Rae is Chair for the Southern Humboldt Emergency Preparedness Team (SHEPT).