220 & Change
220 2nd Ave S
Seattle, WA 98104

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Emergency Preparedness: Are You Ready?

Rosa E. Mitsumasu Scotti ~ Friday, June 6th, 2014

If you leave in the Greater Seattle Area, you’re probably familiar with our region’s vulnerability to earthquakes and other hazards like volcano eruptions (remember the 1980 Mt. St. Helens blast?).  Last Thursday, JoAnne Jordan, Emergency Preparedness Education Coordinator with the City of Seattle, joined us for a session on a sunny afternoon and shared her preparedness wisdom with us.

Check out the following guidelines and be prepared! Whether you’re working from home or at 220 & Change, sitting in the car or walking outside, you’ll find yourself much more confident knowing what to do when disaster strikes – believe me, it will eventually.

Feel the Earth Shaking? Drop, Cover & Hold

We’ve been preparing for earthquakes since we were kids, you probably had a drill in school, and most likely know the safe corners at home. But do you know what to do when an earthquake hits?

Screen Shot 2014-06-06 at 1.40.11 PM
Photo Courtesy of City of Seattle Office of Emergency Management – Seattle.Gov/Emergency

First, you need to conquer your desire to run. According to the City of Seattle, “people in our country tend to be hurt by falling objects, not collapsing structures.  If you are on your feet trying to move, you are in danger from toppling bookcases, breaking windows, falling televisions or shifting furniture. Safety comes from taking quick action and finding a quake-safe place within 3 to 4 seconds”.

As soon as you feel the earth moving, drop, cover your head and hold under a table, desk or counter.  You can also sit against an inside wall that has no windows and cover your head.  If you find yourself in a theater or place of worship, drop between chair lines and cover.

The smaller the room, the better it performs: If you’re in the bathroom, sit against the wall and cover your head.  If you’re taking a shower, turn-off the water and drop.  Studies have shown that doorways are NOT a recommended safe place to be in an earth quake: “It’s difficult to stay in the doorway during the earthquake, and doors often cause injuries when they swings open and closed during the shaking”, said JoAnne.

Preparedness = Empowerment

While it’s difficult to predict when disasters will happen, we can empower ourselves by knowing what to do! Follow these steps and you’ll know what to do to protect yourself and your family.

  1. Look into the types of disaster that are most likely to happen in your area and discuss with your family/peers. Check-out the City of Seattle Hazard’s webpage for relevant information.
  2. Create a disaster plan for your family.  Check out the City of Seattle Family Disaster Plan checklist, it’s a great resource! Got kids? Don’t overwhelm them with too much information at once. Teach one safety action such as Drop, Cover and Hold under the dining room table, and follow up with practice drills so they can demonstrate they understand what to do.
  3. Pick two places to meet after an emergency: (1) right outside your home and (2) outside in your neighborhood, in case you can’t return home.
    Pets are family too! Include them in your Emergency Plan.
    Pets are family too! Include them in your Emergency Plan.
  4. Prepare a disaster supplies kit that will allow you to be self-sufficient from 7 to 10 Days.  There are six basics you should stock: water, food, first-aid supplies, clothing and bedding, tools, and special items. Store your kit in a convenient place known to all family members, and keep a smaller version in the trunk of your car. Check out the City of Seattle Family Disaster Supplies Kit, it’s really comprehensive (you may want to print it and keep it at home).
  5. And finally – keep your pets in mind! Make arrangements for your pets as part of the disaster plan. Store enough food and prepare an evacuation kit including: an unbreakable dish, medications and instructions, leash and pet carrier and pet’s vet records. Make a checklist and first-aid kit for your pet (this one may help).

Keep Communication Lines Clear

If you’re fine, don’t call anyone (especially 911) for 3 – 5 hours to keep communication lines clear and support the system. Also, keep in mind that text messaging is more reliable than phone calls – preset a really short text message in your phones (e.g. “I’m ok, be in touch in 3 hrs”) and send it to someone out of State.

Ready? Share this with your peers, staff and loved ones to make sure they stay safe as well.

For more information, visit the City of Seattle Office of Emergency Management website, they can help you with training, resources and translation services for emergency preparedness.


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