Fifty years ago, the Northwest suffered a deadly windstorm, named Columbus Day Storm of 1962. The storm was the strongest non-tropical windstorm in American history ever to hit the lower 48 states. Winds peaked at 150 mph along the Oregon and Washington coasts, with gusts of more than 100 mph in many parts of the Western Washington interior.
Hopefully, we’re more prepared today than we were then, but our world has changed in the last fifty years presenting new challenges. In today’s high-tech society, we rely on electrical power to conduct every day business. In stormy conditions, it’s entirely possible that we’ll have to do without modern conveniences for a matter of days. We can do much to minimize the impact of storms, earthquakes and man-made disasters.
Make a Plan Everyone, including kids, should have a plan for how they will communicate during an emergency and where they will meet family members if separated. Here are suggestions for family communication during disaster:
– Establish an out-of-area contact. This person would receive calls from various family members, letting callers know the status of the others.
– Be aware that texting may still work even if phone calls can’t go through.
– Telephone land lines may work. Surprisingly, long-distance calls will often go through even where local calls cannot.
– Establish a nearby meeting place where members will meet if it’s unsafe to go home.
Build a Kit Have on hand basic supplies, enough for your family for a minimum of five days. Include:
– Nonperishable ready-to-eat food
– One gallon water per day per person
– Medications and hygiene items
– Sturdy shoes and warm clothing
– Radio and batteries so that you can be aware of local conditions
– Flashlights and extra batteries. Candles are NOT recommended because of fire hazard
– First aid kit
– A whistle
– Pet supplies
Get Involved Disasters are managed by people who have taken the time to work together and learn life-saving procedures.
– Know your neighbors. Discuss emergency procedures with them.
– Learn CPR and basic First Aid. These skills can make a difference between life and death.
– Volunteer with community disaster programs. The American Red Cross offers training and resources as do local emergency response teams.
–Attend community events that discuss emergency preparedness.
We can’t stop disasters, but we can take realistic steps to survive them. By being prepared, we can not only protect people and property, we can have peace of mind knowing we’ve taken positive steps to protect ourselves from disasters.
Reference: “Be Prepared for Severe Weather,” Lynne Miller, King County Office of Emergency Management
Photo Credit: Damage from the Columbus Day Storm of 1962 in Newberg, Oregon Courtesy Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia