Preparing to survive: A series on disaster preparation

  • Published
  • By Robert Kaschak
  • 452 AMW Emergency Management technician
The Eastern and Midwestern regions of the U.S. routinely deal with tornadoes and hurricanes; however, in the West, in particular Southern California, the most likely natural disaster will come from earthquakes. Unlike other disasters, earthquakes are the most unnerving because occurrences cannot be predicted.

The primary focus of emergency planners is to analyze disaster scenarios and contemplate the worst possible case to develop action plans for survivability during and following an event. Typically, the U.S. Armed Forces are the "litmus tests," for most response plans due to systematic disaster response planning. This ensures every possibility is explored to avert or react and recover from the wrath of Mother Nature.

The reality of a major earthquake happening in southern California is evident, so the best hope for survival is preparation. Unfortunately, most do not buy in until a catastrophe actually happens, but then it is too late.

Preparation is synonymous with awareness and education. Responders and planners must continually address the public on the importance of being ready.

In the following weeks, editions of The Beacon will contain articles that discuss processes involving disaster preparedness. It is the intent of these articles to ensure everyone is able to take action and plan for the safety and well-being of themselves and family members.

The below topics are most effective when discussed with the entire family to ensure everyone understands the concerns and issues:

Have you discussed a plan of action/reaction?

What will you do if your (sponsor) is at work and everyone else is at home?

What happens if children are in school?

Do you have a plan to evacuate your home?

How will you communicate? Do you understand that cell phones, regular phones may not be working?

Have you met with neighbors to develop an action plan to look out for each other?

If medical attention is necessary, is there a plan with the caregiver?

 Do you have an ample supply of medications?

If you have a babysitter, have arrangements been made with them?

If you have pets, where will they go?

How will the family respond if the sponsor is out of town?

Are there any emergency supplies and where are they located? Do those supplies include at least a week's supply of food and water? Do you have supplies in your vehicle?

Do you have a list of contacts from outside the area that you are able to reach to forward important information?

Do you have some cash set aside? -- debit cards may not work.

If you can answer these, you are on the path to preparation. Put them in a checklist and answer one by one. Helpful information can be retrieved from the Federal Emergency Management Agency ( and United States Geological Survey ( websites.

Addressing these issues now will give you and your family a plan and provide some peace of mind when a disastrous event occurs. Remember, in California, it is not if the big one will hit, but when.