This page is part of the Peace Heathens' Seattle Crisis Resource Directory.
Even if you're not the sort of person who stocks up on duct tape and plastic sheeting, it makes sense to be prepared for certain kinds of emergencies. After all, we live in earthquake country. After a major quake (or in any other disaster), the more people who can take care of themselves and their neighbors, the fewer need to be helped by the inevitably scarce aid workers.
Much of the following is paraphrased from an article by Rob Anderson in the September 2003 issue of the Roosevelt neighborhood newsletter The Roosie. Thanks to them for their permission use their research.
Somewhere in your home, you should have:
You can improvise your own disaster kit, or get a prepackaged kit from any of a number of sources. One of the many sources for disaster survival kits is the American Red Cross online store, selling a variety of kits ranging from an under-table kit with a small water pouch, a dust mask, a whistle, and a light stick, to elaborate kits including first aid supplies, food bars, emergency blankets and even hygiene supplies.
Besides these material things, you should have a plan. Have a gas line? Know where to shut it off (and who in the household takes responsibility for doing that promptly in the event of an earthquake). Have other potentially hazardous things in your house? Identify them, mitigate the damage in advance wherever possible, form a plan for the things that can't be done in advance.
In an emergency, try to secure your own household and family first, then try to help you neighbors. Especially in an earthquake, search and rescue may be crucial. Recognize that a person trapped in a collapsed building may often be able to actively collaborate in his or her own rescue. Along with your neighbors, be on the lookout for major hazards (e.g. a broken gas main); try to contain major hazards, but also try to report them to the proper authorities.
Obviously, having a neighborhood plan in advance as well as an individual household plan is a great idea. The Seattle Neighborhoods Actively Prepare (SNAP) program helps Seattle neighborhoods set up such a plan.
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The master of this page is http://seattlecrisis.org/prepared.html.