The Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Services (OES) is asking county residents to take a moment this week to remember the people of New Zealand who have been devastated by the earthquake of 22 February. OES is also encouraging local residents to learn from that disaster in order to better prepare themselves for when a major earthquake will strike the Santa Barbara County area.
Michael Harris, Emergency Operations Chief for the county stated, “OES wants people to realistically look at how prepared they are for the next big earthquake. We all have to look at these natural disasters in the world and ask, ‘What if that was me? I am responsible for my family and pets, how can we cope for three or five days on our own?’”
According to local emergency managers, only approximately 12% to 15% of the general population is prepared in any significant way to live on their own. The best steps people can take are easy and inexpensive:
• Extra Water - Have about one gallon per person per day of water. Next time you are at the store, buy a couple of extra cases, then you can continue to easily rotate your supply.
• Food - Easy to prepare and store non-perishable food.
• Hand-cranked radio - Getting information from emergency officials after a disaster has proven to be priceless. After the earthquake in Haiti, New Zealand and other disasters, the media has partnered with emergency officials to provide life saving information to disaster victims. OES has a strong partnership with local media to help prepare to provide emergency and disaster information.
• Have a plan - What’s your family plan? Do your family members have an idea what they are to do after an emergency? A family meeting helps everyone know what they should do. Talk with your children. They need to know that you will be there for them – even if it isn’t right away.
When it comes down to it, emergency officials want people to understand that first responders will be busy helping trapped and injured residents. Residents must be prepared to care for themselves and their family pets, and be prepared to answer their family’s question immediately after a disaster, “What do we do now?”