From the Editor
I’m Prepared. Are You?
The largest earthquake I’ve experienced in Oakland was a piddling one of 5.4 magnitude on Oct. 7, 2007, not very big when you consider there is, as Jeff Swenerton reports in “Get Ready for the Big One,” a 70 percent chance the Bay Area will experience an earthquake of a magnitude 6.7 or greater by 2030.
I’m from the South, near Tornado Alley, so I’m familiar with the power of tornadoes and their aftermath; floods and drought are not uncommon in my home state of Arkansas, which is crossed by the notorious New Madrid Fault, an active fault with potentially deadly tremors.
The notion of earthquakes, a Bay Area reality, scares me, so being prepared definitely appeals to me. And so, as we were working on this issue about disaster preparedness, I took Swenerton’s advice and created a home earthquake kit. It’s not hard, so don’t put it off another day. My husband and I discussed the suggested tools for our survival, talked about what we’d do if the big one hits and gathered up the items in a central place. In other words, we did what disaster preparedness experts repeatedly recommend: Get Prepared, Make a Plan and Build a Kit.
Like many Californians, I live an active lifestyle, which off and on has included backpacking, camping and adventure racing, so my family has crucial disaster survival components—sleeping bags, a portable stove, first-aid kit, headlamp, for instance—readily at hand. My husband is quite the handyman and gardener, so our toolshed is naturally stocked with other survival kit necessities, such as duct tape, work gloves, dust masks, wrenches, a crowbar, hammers and pliers.
The toughest parts were gathering easy-to-prepare, long-lasting foodstuffs (we opted for canned goods and didn’t forget the can opener), which meant a trip to the grocery store, and planning for our pets (two cats and a dog, requiring carriers, pet food, bowls and a leash); but with forethought, we were able to wrestle those details to the ground.
Finally, I stashed an extra set of clothes, including sturdy hiking boots, old glasses and an ugly but warm fleece top under my bed. I’m sleeping much better since taking these few precautionary steps.
What’s your excuse for not putting your kit together? With Oakland Magazine’s handy guide to disaster preparedness, you ought to be able to take care of yourself for a few days until things get back to relative order when a major disaster strikes. Use these articles to plan ahead. What you do now can save your life, so get cracking.
Judith M. Gallman