|The Cascadia subduction zone.|
Image from the New Yorker
That fall, we watched an excellent Oregon Field Guide special, Unprepared, on OPB. This special showed the magnitude of destruction that we might be in for, and at the same time, how unprepared Oregon is for such a disaster. We will not rebound like Japan did after their recent earthquake, nor will our coastal communities have advance warning and be able to effectively escape the resulting tsunami.
Also last summer and fall, the northwest was on fire. We watched as wildfires burned through Washington and Oregon. The Canyon Creek fire ended up burning over 110,000 acres, while the three largest fires in Washington burned over 500,000 acres. Many people were evacuated from their homes as the fires raged.
These events made me think about our own preparedness. I realized emergency preparedness wasn't just about a potential earthquake, but would serve us well for other emergencies, like fires, floods, snow or wind storms that might knock out our power (and hence, our water) for a week or two, a chemical spill on the freeway which runs past our house, or even some sort of terrorist attack. Being prepared for emergencies can also help us out during a personal crisis -- keeping plenty of gas in the tank, a small stash of cash on hand, and a first aid kit in the car are all acts of preparedness which have come in handy in the past.
An aerial view of Minato, Japan, March 18, 2011, a week after a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami
(Photo by the US Navy).
We could do a lot more.
We've talked about getting spare shoes in the car so it will be easier to walk the 20 miles home if we have too (and which will come in handy if the car breaks down and we need to walk for help), and I've thought about the best way to get home, since we cross several bridges which would undoubtedly be damaged during a big quake. We've talked about strapping down the water heater so we'll potentially have a reservoir of drinkable water. Since I do a lot of canning, we've got plenty of food in case of a flood, but the jars wouldn't survive a tumble to the floor. We have three cats and only two cat carriers. A spare set of clothes in our emergency box would be handy, especially if something happens in the middle of the night which had us fleeing the house in a hurry.
As school is winding down (only 6 weeks to go!), my mind if coming back to being prepared, aided by the recent news that I've been hearing.
So, I'm curious, what have you done to be prepared for an emergency?