Recent events around the world, most recently in Japan, are a sobering reminder of the sheer strength and unpredictability of nature. The horrifying events that took place in Japan left the rest of us wondering, what if it happens here? Will I be ready? Granted, the danger of a tsunami is not as great in America as it is in Japan. However there are a number of potential threats, both natural and man-made, that warrant caution. By following a few simple, logical strategies, you can help ensure the safety of you and your family in the unlikely event of a natural (or unnatural) disaster.
TsunamisThe threat of a tsunami on the scale of the one that struck Japan is not necessarily a constant here in the States. However our coastal regions and the Hawaiian Islands have the potential, albeit unlikely, for a tsunami strike. As Japan has shown, tsunamis are very dangerous and should be taken seriously. Heed Warnings – If you happen to live in a tsunami zone be sure to take weather warnings very seriously. If the order is given to evacuate or otherwise, you must do so no matter how minor the incident may seem. Know The Route To Higher Ground – You don’t have to have it mapped out, but it is wise to be aware of which roads in your area lead to higher elevations. In times of distress, it is easy to become disoriented and panic. If you know the way in advance, you’ll feel that much better. Save Yourself & Others, Not Your Possessions – Time is of the essence. Remember to take warnings seriously and keep in mind what is truly important in a dangerous situation.
EarthquakesEarthquakes are a more familiar threat to the United States, and some areas are very prone to them. It is always wise to remember a few of the basic rules of staying safe during an earthquake. If You’re Indoors – If possible, go to the ground floor. Try and move into a doorway, a corner, or against a wall. If possible, try and keep a distance from heavy appliances and furniture. If You’re Outdoors – Definitely stay outdoors! If you can, move away from any tall buildings or structures or trees. If You’re In A Car – Stop the car. Remain inside the car; they are designed to protect you. Only exit the car and/or begin moving if you are absolutely sure it is safe.
Nuclear Incident – There are over 100 operating nuclear power plants within the United States. The good news is that the safety and technology is always improving, however Japan has shown us that nuclear power can still be very dangerous and should be taken very seriously. Distance Makes You Safer – If you are able to evacuate you must do so. The best way to avoid the danger of a nuclear disaster is to get as far away as possible. Can’t Evacuate? – You are better off remaining indoors if possible. If you can, close all doors, windows, and vents. Turn off any air conditioning, heating, or air-intake systems. Go to the basement or another underground area if possible. Also unless you have to, do not use a telephone.
Tips To Remember - Of course the worst thing about a disaster is that you don’t plan it. If you find yourself in the middle of some unforeseen event, try and remember a few of the more general safety tenets to help you out. Be Aware of Exhaustion – If you can, give your body the proper rest as it will be extra strained in stressful situations. Eat Good If You Can & Clean Water Only! - Even if you don’t feel hungry it is good to eat regularly for sustenance. Do not drink water if you suspect it is unsafe, you’re better off without it. Wash Your Hands Thoroughly – Mom was right, even in emergency situations. Be Aware of NEW Safety Concerns – Has your landscape changed? Has something caught fire? Downed power lines, trees and disabled cars can all be potential hazards. Try And Avoid Areas Where You Smell Gas Or Fumes – Any gas or fumes may be either flammable and/or hazardous to your health. Do Not Attempt To Help Wounded Animals – As much as you may want to, the health of you and your companions must take priority above all else. A wounded animal can be dangerous, sick, and unpredictable.
Hopefully you’ll never find yourself in the midst of some major disaster. If you do however, some simple safeguards and active awareness can go a long way to protect you and your family from harm. For more information on disaster awareness the FEMA website is very helpful and informative.