ShakeOut: Is your family prepared for an earthquake?
It’s 1:15 in the afternoon, you’ve just finished your lunch and it’s time to settle back into the workload awaiting your appreciated time and attention. As you begin to steady your thoughts on the tasks that lie ahead, the ground beneath your feet has a different idea. Your thoughts and body are no longer steady at all as the rumbling and shaking brings you to the floor. An earthquake is occurring, do you know what to do? Do you know where your family members are? Do you have a plan? Do you have food and water to last you for three days? If not, perhaps it’s time to make a plan in case you are ever in this situation.
According to Statistics New Zealand only 18% of households met the requirements for ‘basic’ preparation for a natural disaster in 2010. Basic preparation includes three days supply of water, three days supply of food and a household emergency plan. These statistics are quite alarming; although New Zealand only has a natural disaster risk of 4.69% (other countries such as Vanuatu have 36.43% risk) it’s still imperative to be prepared, especially for those with small children.
To encourage Kiwi’s to become more prepared, the government has organised ‘ShakeOut’, a nation-wide earthquake drill. Businesses, organisations, schools, preschools, households and individuals from all around the country are invited to participate in the earthquake-drill taking place on October 15th 2015 at 9:15am. The drill has been organised to practice what to do in the event of such an emergency so that us Kiwi’s can be better prepared. In light of this topic, it leaves the opportunity to be equipped with knowledge on what to do during an earthquake, what you can do now to prepare, and how to respond after. At Lighthouse, we are holding seminars in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch on this issue so that our families can be in the best position in terms of preparation if an earthquake was to occur.
For those of you who are not with Lighthouse, we have provided an overview of what can be done before, during and after an earthquake so that you and your family can be prepared too.
The ‘before’ is all about preparation, there are suggestions below for preparing an emergency kit and an emergency plan.
In you Emergency Kit:
There are two options for an emergency kit; you can buy a pre-made one for four people at the price of $275 from http://www.prepare.co.nz/Products/Four-Person-72-Hour-Survival-Kit. Alternatively you can make one at home. For those of you who do decide you want to make one at home, here is a list of items you may want to include in your kit:
• Torch with spare batteries or a self-charging torch
• Radio with spare batteries
• Wind and waterproof clothing, sun hats, and strong outdoor shoes
• First aid kit and essential medicines
• Blankets or sleeping bags
• Pet supplies
• Face and dust masks
• Check all batteries every 3 months.
• Food and water for 3 days or more
• Non-perishable food (canned or dried food)
• Food, formula and drinks for babies and small children
• Water (at least 3 litres per person, per day) for drinking
• Water for washing and cooking
• A primus or gas barbeque to cook on
• A can opener
• Check and replace food and water every twelve months.
Along with your Emergency Kit, you should prepare an Emergency Plan:
During an earthquake many of us would experience panic, part of which might be panicking about what to do. Detailed below is the New Zealand government’s ShakeOut instructions for what to do during an earthquake; Drop, Cover and Hold.
• DROP down on your hands and knees. This position protects you from falling but allows you to still move if necessary.
• COVER your head and neck (and your entire body if possible) under a sturdy table or desk (if it is no more than a few steps away from you). If there is no shelter nearby, get down near an interior wall (or next to low-lying furniture that won’t fall on you), and cover your head and neck with your arms and hands.
• HOLD on to your shelter (or your position to protect your head and neck) until the shaking stops. Be prepared to move with your shelter if the shaking shifts it around.
Listed below are some steps to consider for after an earthquake has occurred.
• Listen to your local radio stations, as emergency management officials will be broadcasting the most appropriate advice for your community and situation.
• Expect to feel aftershocks.
• Check yourself for injuries and get first aid if necessary. Help others if you can.
• Be aware that electricity supply could be cut, and fire alarms and sprinkler systems can go off in buildings during an earthquake even if there is no fire. Check for, and extinguish, small fires.
• If you are in a damaged building, try to get outside and find a safe, open place. Use the stairs, not the elevators.
• Watch out for fallen power lines or broken gas lines, and stay out of damaged areas.
• Only use the phone for short essential calls to keep the lines clear for emergency calls.
• If you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window, get everyone out quickly and turn off the gas if you can. If you see sparks, broken wires or evidence of electrical system damage, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box if it is safe to do so.
• Keep your animals under your direct control as they can become disorientated. Take measures to protect your animals from hazards, and to protect other people from your animals.
• If your property is damaged, take notes and photographs for insurance purposes. If you rent your property, contact your landlord and your contents insurance company as soon as possible.
In the event of an earthquake being prepared is something you would be eternally grateful for, while not being prepared could put you and your family in an even more difficult situation. Be prepared and make you sure you and your family have your emergency plan and kit sorted this September in time for the October ShakeOut.
Written by Brooke Hattie