But it always pays to be prepared at home and in the office.
Having BOB (Bug Out Bags) prepared and easily accessible at work and at home can help you survive in the short-term if you are trapped or cut off from help.
In the recent New Zealand February 2011 earthquake residents had no warning of the seismic activity, and were caught unawares - many died while some were trapped for hours on end without access to food or water, saved only by sheltering under solid office furniture, and the random landing of concrete and building materials around them.
And when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, thousands of people were caught unawares when the levy protecting the city broke and severe flooding compounded the severe storm damage.
You may not be able to control a natural disaster event, but you can determine your response and preparedness.
What You Need:
- Non-perishable food
- Drinking water
- Medication for all family members
- First aid kit
- Battery-operated radio and spare batteries
- Can opener
- Sturdy shoes
How to prepare for an earthquake:
- Fasten shelves securely to walls, and place heavy objects on lower shelves.
- Store breakable items in low, closed cabinets.
- Hang items such as pictures and mirrors away from beds and anywhere people sit.
- Brace hanging light fixtures.
- Repair known defective electrical wiring and gas connections.
- Strap your water heater to studs in the wall and bolt it to the floor.
- Repair any large existing cracks in walls or foundations.
- Store poisons such as pesticides and herbicides, as well as flammable liquids, on bottoms shelves of latched cabinets.
- Identify safe places in each room (under sturdy furniture, against inside walls, away from glass).
- Locate safe places outdoors (away from buildings, trees, electrical lines, and bridges).
- Teach family members how to turn off gas, electricity, and water.
- Teach children how to dial 911 in an emergency.
- Have disaster supplies on hand (flashlight and extra batteries, battery operated radio, fist aid kit with manual, emergency food and drinking water, non electric can opener, cash, sturdy shoes).
- Develop an emergency communications plan in case family members are separated.
- During an earthquake (indoors)
- Take cover beneath a sturdy piece of furniture or against an indoor wall away from glass that might break.
- Stay inside! The most dangerous thing you can do during an earthquake is to try to leave.
- During an earthquake (outdoors)
- Move into the open, away from buildings, street lights, and overhead utility wires. Stay there until the shaking stops.
- During an earthquake (in a moving vehicle)
- Try to find a clear area away from buildings, trees, overpasses, and overhead wires.
- Stop quickly and stay in the vehicle.
- Once the shaking has stopped, proceed with caution. Bridges and ramps may have been damaged during the shaking.
- Dealing with pets
- The behavior of pets may change after an earthquake, and they may become aggressive or defensive.
- Leash dogs or keep them in a fenced area.
- Pets may not be allowed in emergency shelters, so prepare an emergency supply that includes a several day supply of dry pet food and a large water container.
- After the earthquake
- Be prepared for aftershocks. They may cause additional damage for hours to months after the main shock.
- Help injured or trapped persons within the limits of your abilities.
- Listen to a battery operated radio or television for emergency information.
- Check on the elderly and disabled, or children who may need special help.
- Stay out of damaged buildings!
- Use the telephone only for emergency calls.
- Clean up spilled materials.
- Open cabinet and closet doors cautiously.
- Inspect chimneys for damage, and be extremely careful when lighting fires in fireplaces. Chimney damage may lead to fires.
- Check utilities for damage. If you smell gas, turn off the gas and do not use electrical devices (including telephones). Stay away from broken electrical wires, and turn off the main fuse box or circuit breaker. If water pipes are damaged, do not use the toilet and avoid tap water for drinking. Use your emergency supply, and melt ice cubes for additional water.
How to prepare for a hurricane:
- Plan an evacuation route.
- Contact the local emergency management office or Red Cross chapter, and ask for the community hurricane preparedness plan. This plan should include information on the safest evacuation routes and nearby shelters.
- Learn safe routes inland.
- Be ready to drive 20 to 50 miles inland to locate a safe place.
- Have disaster supplies on hand.
- Make arrangements for pets.
- Pets may not be allowed into emergency shelters for health and space reasons. Contact your local humane society for information on local animal shelters.
- Instruct family members.
- Teach family members how and when to turn off gas, electricity, and water.
- Teach children how and when to call 9-1-1, police, or fire department and which radio station to tune to for emergency information.
- Protect your windows.
- Permanent shutters are the best protection. A lower-cost approach is to put up plywood panels. Use 1/2 inch plywood--marine plywood is best--cut to fit each window. Remember to mark which board fits which window. Pre-drill holes every 18 inches for screws. Do this long before the storm.
- Trim back dead or weak branches from trees.
- Check into flood insurance - make sure you READ your insurance entitlements closely and ensure they cover everything you want them to. Don't leave it until there is an emergency!
- Develop an emergency communication plan.
- In case family members are separated from one another during a disaster (a real possibility during the day when adults are at work and children are at school), have a plan for getting back together.
- Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as the "family contact." After a disaster, it's often easier to call long distance. Make sure everyone in the family knows the name, address, and phone number of the contact person.
During a hurricane watch:
A hurricane watch is issued when there is a threat of hurricane conditions within 24-36 hours. A hurricane warning is issued when hurricane conditions (winds of 74 miles per hour or greater, or dangerously high water and rough seas) are expected in 24 hours or less.
Listen to a battery-operated radio or television for hurricane progress reports.
- Check emergency supplies.
- Fuel car.
- Bring in outdoor objects such as lawn furniture, toys, and garden tools and anchor objects that cannot be brought inside.
- Secure buildings by closing and boarding up windows. Remove outside antennas.
- Turn refrigerator and freezer to coldest settings. Open only when absolutely necessary and close quickly.
- Store drinking water in clean bathtubs, jugs, bottles, and cooking utensils.
- Review evacuation plan.
- Moor boat securely or move it to a designated safe place. Use rope or chain to secure boat to trailer. Use tie-downs to anchor trailer to the ground or house.