September is National Preparedness Month, reminding us that natural calamities may strike at any moment, as the recent American Canyon earthquake has shown. These disasters are often unannounced, and preparation in advance can help increase your chances of survival as well as how quickly you and your family can recover.
National Preparedness Month is a great reminder to check the batteries in your flashlights, go over your family emergency plan and to make sure you have adequate insurance coverage,” said Cynthia Harris, AAA Northern California spokesperson.
Disaster Preparedness Tips
- Keep emergency and first aid kits in your home. These should include a battery-powered or hand-cranked radio, extra batteries, a flashlight, a can opener, needed medicines or prescriptions and a three-day supply of nonperishable food and water (one gallon per person, per day).
- Keep similar supplies in your car. For an emergency, as well as flares, keep comfortable shoes and a backpack in the trunk of your care in case you have to search for help on foot.
- Prepare a family emergency plan. Outline what each family will do, how they will get to a safe place, and how they will get in touch with each other.
- Identify an out-of-the-area contacts. Everyone needs a list to call in case local communications are disrupted.
- Don’t forget your pet(s). Make sure you have supplies for them. Consider micro-chipping your dog and/or cat so if you’re separated they can be easily identified.
- Have cash and copies of your most important papers. Keep ID, insurance documents handy in case you need to evacuate quickly.
- Create a home inventory. List all the possessions you would want your insurance company to replace, if lost, and put copies in safe places. A home inventory includes taking video or photos of all those possessions and pulling together copies of sales receipts and other documentation. Safe places to store these copies include online, with friends or family or in a safe deposit box.
- Take CPR and first aid training. Your local chapter of the American Red Cross, fire department or similar organization offers these courses. The knowledge you gain could help save the life of a family member or a neighbor injured during a disaster.
Proper preparation can also help ease the devastating impacts left by an earthquake,” Harris said. “As the American Canyon earthquake has taught us, our lives can be changed in an instant. Some simple, advanced planning can help aide with the recovery process.”
AAA Earthquake Safety Tips
- Create an earthquake survival kit. This is one of the most important steps you can take. The kit should include canned goods and a can opener, two to four quarts of water per person per day, battery operated or hand crank radio, sanitary supplies, a camp stove, portable radio, flashlight and spare batteries, and tools to turn off utilities.
- Know how to shut off your home’s gas, water and electricity. You should also make sure your water heater is securely fastened to a wall or post with two metal straps.
- Secure heavy furniture. Heavy items like bookshelves or TVs should be secured to a wall so they don’t fall over during a strong earthquake.
- Conduct family earthquake drills. Make sure everyone knows which areas in a room are the safest. This may be underneath a table or against a wall. Stay away from windows, fireplaces, and tall furniture.
- Decide where your family will reunite if you’re separated. Choose a friend or relative you can call after an earthquake to let them know your location and condition. Phone lines are often overloaded or damaged in an earthquake, and specifying one point of contact for your entire family will help avoid a strain on the system.
- Childproof your cabinet doors. It may seem like an annoyance initially, but installing latches on your cabinet doors can prevent them from flying open in an earthquake. By properly securing the doors you can keep precious belongings from spilling out and breaking.
- Check your insurance for earthquake coverage. Knowing what coverage you have can help speed up your recovery after a big quake. Most homeowner’s policies do NOT cover damage resulting from an earthquake, and in most cases a separate earthquake policy is needed. You can find out more at AAA.com/insurance.