East County Magazine In House Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna
July 30, 2012 (San Diego's East County) -- Though right now we are concerned of the high fire danger it’s important to remember disasters both natural and manmade can strike at any given time according to Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna of East County Magazine.
This checklist (whether at home or work) should help you prepare for most any emergency says DiGiovanna. Don’t wait until it’s too late!
ESSENTIALS FOR THE OFFICE
- Read your company's evacuation plan and know where to meet after an emergency.
- Know where exit routes, stairways, fire extinguishers, and medical kits are located.
- Assemble supplies in a single pack and have them stored in your desk. Along with your supplies, store a pair of walking shoes.
- Carry a list of important phone numbers in your wallet.
- Keep the area under your desk free of waste-paper baskets, etc. This 6 square foot area might be home for a few traumatic moments. If you are not at your desk when something happens, don't count on being able to make it back. Store additional supplies in your car (see below).
ESSENTIALS FOR THE CAR
- Even if you are at home when a disaster strikes, and your home is well stocked, you may still need the supplies in your car. Your house may not be safe to enter, or may catch fire after a disaster like an earthquake.
- Your car will be one of your most important resources after a disaster strikes. Keep it mechanically sound, and pay close attention to the exhaust system. A leaking exhaust system could kill.
- Always keep your gas tank full! Fill it when it reaches 1/2 a tank. You will thank yourself the first time you are stuck in a traffic jam in bad weather.
- Think of your car's trunk as a big steel supply cabinet. Keep your supplies in the trunk along with other items like tools, jumper cables and spare tire.
- Keep the car mechanically sound and ready to use.
- Keep supplies in the car for use in an emergency.
- Replace your battery every 2-3 years. In an emergency, your car battery will need to run the radio and heater for extended periods.
Have a mechanic check the following items on your car to keep it ready:
- Wipers and windshield washer fluid
- Ignition system
- Lights and flashing hazard
- Exhaust system
- Make sure the tires have adequate tread
ESSENTIALS FOR THE HOME
- Home is where you can do the most to be prepared. But remember that you are only home for about 1/2 of the hours in a day. You must also be prepared at work, and have additional supplies in your car.
- Strap gas appliances to walls or floor, especially the water heater. Remember your water heater is a large source of water, and weighs several hundred pounds when full. A four hundred pound water heater will break gas lines on its way to the floor. Gas appliances are a real danger in an earthquake, and are the cause of most fires after a quake.
- The water heater is strapped to the wall.
- Know where to shut off the water, power, and gas and have placed the tools at each location.
- Make sure your house is bolted to its foundation.
- Repair defective electrical wiring and leaky gas connections. These are potential fire risks. Brace overhead light fixtures.
- Replace solid gas lines with flexible lines on stoves, water heaters, and dryers.
- Nail plywood on top of ceiling joists inside the attic to protect people from chimney bricks that could fall through the ceiling.
- Anything that would have fallen on someone's head has been secured to the wall.
- Move the bleach and ammonia to separate locations.
- Know the unsafe locations in the house.
- Make an emergency plan and know escape routes and meeting places.
- Emergency lighting has been installed in selected outlets.
- Know the location of the nearest police, fire station, and hospital.
- Know which neighbors have medical experience.
- Talk with neighbors about emergency preparedness.
- Your neighbors have keys to your house, and they know how to turn off your utilities.
- Your neighbors also have a list of your important phone numbers.
- Your household has conducted a home evacuation drill.
- Your children know how to get help from neighbors and 911.
- Each family member carries a family photo.
- Evaluate what supplies your family needs to store.
- Have the proper amount of water stored for emergency use.
- Store emergency food supplies.
- Store cooking items for emergency use.
- Store emergency items to use as shelter.
- Have a first aid kit.
- Store emergency lighting equipment.
- Have stored items to keep in touch with the world.
- Have positioned tools that you will need in an emergency.
- Store sanitation supplies.
- Store supplies for the baby.
- Stored misc. supplies including money for emergency use.
Know your house:
- Place a flashlight or an emergency light next to your breaker panel.
- Place a wrench in your water meter box located near the street.
- Place or attach a tool on your gas meter for turning off the gas.
- Evaluate each room in your house. Ask yourself: what will fall on my head, or will keep me from getting out if it fell? Secure anything you find.
- Hang heavy items such as pictures and mirrors away from beds, couches, and anywhere people sit.
- Fasten shelves securely to walls and place large or heavy objects on lower shelves.
- Store breakable items such as bottled foods, glass, and china in low, closed cabinets with latches.
- Store household chemicals on a bottom shelf of a closed cabinet.
- Never store bleach and ammonia in the same cabinet. These chemicals when mixed, will create a toxic gas as deadly as any ever created.
- Identify the best and worst places to be in your house. Remember that you might not have any choice as to where you will be located when a disaster strikes. The best places inside the house are under major beams that are secured to the rest of the structure, or in strong doorways, or inner structural walls. The worst places are in front of windows, or near fireplaces and chimneys.
- Make an emergency plan including escape routes and meeting places. Choose both a nearby meeting place and an out of state relative to be your check-in contact for the family.
- Test your emergency plan with all members of the family present.
- Plug emergency lighting into selected outlets. These flashlights are constantly charged, and turn on automatically when power fails, or the units are unplugged.
- Keep all tree and shrub limbs trimmed so they don't come in contact with the wires.
- Keep trees adjacent to buildings free of dead or dying wood.
- Store combustible or flammable materials in approved safety containers and keep them away from the house.
- Install smoke detectors on every level of your home and near sleeping areas.
Know your neighbors, and neighborhood:
- Contact your school district to obtain policy regarding how children will be released from school.
- Know the location of the nearest police and fire stations, as well as the route to the nearest hospital emergency room.
- Meet with neighbors and find out who has medical experience.
- If you are taking this preparedness thing seriously, share this information with the households next to you. The more people you can convince to prepare, the greater your group resources. Remember that you will be called upon by all around you for help, especially by those who didn't take warnings seriously.
- Give spare keys to your trusted neighbors. Show them where the utility shutoffs are and provide them with a list of contact phone numbers.
- Ask how to turn off your neighbors utilities.
Know your family:
- Hold a home evacuation drill to test your emergency plan with all members of the family present.
- Teach your children how to get help from neighbors and 911.
- Keep photos of family members in wallet in case they turn up missing.
- Teach household members how to turn off utilities.
- In case family members are separated from one another during an earthquake (a real possibility during the day when adults are at work and children are at school), develop a plan for reuniting after the disaster.
- Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as the "family contact." After a disaster, it's often easier to call long distance. Make sure everyone in the family knows the name, address, and phone number of the contact person.
- 30 gallons per person (2 gallons per person per day for 1 week). This might sound excessive, but look at your water bill this month! This figure assumes that when at home, you will eventually want a sponge bath, or will cook pasta or rice. You might even wash your hair or clothes, and will eventually flush a toilet. A good location is in a detached garage (single story)or away from any heavy structure that may topple over onto them. Remember that your water heater in the house is typically 50 gallons, and may be used as a secondary (only)water supply if your dwelling survives. Additional water should be stored in 5 gallon plastic containers and should be stored in separate locations away from your main water supply(not all your eggs in one basket).
- Each person or family should have on hand an emergency food supply other than your weekly store bought food. people tend to consume their emergency food supply to easily when it's to readily available like canned foods, mixes, soups etc. That is why we recommend purchasing freeze dried ,dehydrated, MRES, type of foods that have an extremely long shelf life that are nutritious and can be stored in the same area for accessibility ,while still maintaining your weekly store bought food supply. Plan for a minimum of one week of food per person , Don't forget a manual can opener! No power, no way to open cans!
- MREs - Meals ready to eat. These are ideal for inside and outside storage conditions. Remember, the key is to distribute your supplies at various locations. These may be stored in the worst of conditions. Long shelf life with no rotation.
- Freeze Dried Food- this superior storable food is available in #10 cans Approx.(one gallon)size cans that have many servings in them,and is a great choice for your main (bulk) storable food supply (available in individual cans or complete family and business systems. Freeze dried food has a shelf life of up to 20 years. while the pouched meals are a great choice for distributing your food in various locations(just in case you can't get to your main food supply. The freeze dried food pouches are also a great choice for storing in your vehicle, and for camping, hiking, flying or anyplace where a lightweight hot meal is desired. They have a 5 year shelf life, taste great and retain nutrition,texture and aroma.
- Barbecue , 40 pounds charcoal, and two cans of starter fluid. Or a propane unit with two 20 pound containers of propane. A propane camp stove may also be used.
Store the following items for use with above:
- Pot and pan for cooking
- Kitchen knife
- Silverware. Spoon, fork.
- Styrofoam cups.
- Water proof matches or lighter.
- Zip lock bags.
- Aluminum foil. A must! Can be formed into just about anything you might need.
- Two person tube tent minimum, larger size better.
- Wool blanket or sleeping bag.
- Emergency Space blanket.
- Instant hand/body warming pads.
- Propane powered Heater, 20 pound cylinder mounted.
- First aid kit.
- We also recommend taking a first aid class including CPR.
Also store the following items:
- First aid manual.
- Extra prescription medications.
- Aspirin or Ibuprofen.
- Flashlight with 2 sets of spare alkaline batteries and one spare bulb or an emergency light.
- Lantern, battery, kerosene or propane powered. Store fuel or batteries, but never use fuel based lighting until you are sure gas leaks are eliminated.
- Long life candles.
- Water proof matches or lighter.
- AM/FM radio. Store at least 3 sets of alkaline batteries for standard units. The best radio is one that has rechargeable NI-cads built in, and may be charged with the built in solar cell, or by cranking on a built in generator handle. We recommend this radio for your supplies in your car as well.
- Pen, pencil, and paper pad. Store in zip lock bag.
- Stamped postcards. Store in zip lock bags. Your house might be gone, but if you still have a mailbox, the mail will continue service. An easy way to stay in touch with family far away.
- List of important phone numbers, including your out of state focal.
- Weather radio or police scanner. A bit expensive, but a weather radio is a must in tornado or hurricane country.
- Fire extinguisher large 5-20 pound, type ABC.
- Crow bar, 1 ft min.
- Leather gloves.
- Multi-function pocket tool or knife.
- Plastic tarp, 9x12 ft min.
- Nylon rope, 100 foot.
- Duct tape.
- A multi-purpose tool for shutting of gas and water main valves.
- Portable generator. Make your selection based on what really needs to be powered and the run time of the model. Our recommendation is for a maximum size of 5 HP, 2250 Watt 120vac only. To get a 230vac generator will require an 8 HP motor, and your run time will drop in half. Typically, the only items in your house that will require 230vac is an electric heating system, an electric water heater, or an electric range. What you really need to power is a refrigerator, a few lights, and a radio.
- Power converter for running 120 volt items from car battery.
- Portable chemical toilet and disinfectant crystals. Store in garage away from house. You will only need this if your dwelling is damaged, or if your water supply is limited.
- Toilet tissue rolls. Store inside portable toilet. Garbage bags. Can also be used as toilet liners.
- Pre-moistened towelettes.
- All purpose liquid soap.
- Tooth brush and paste.
- Disposable razor.
- Feminine hygiene items.
- Latex gloves.
- Gallon of disinfectant.
Baby stuff (if needed):
- Baby formula and plastic bottles.
- Large box disposable diapers.
- Pre moistened wet wipes.
- Baby blanket and knit cap.
- Two or three complete change of baby clothes.
- One complete change of clothing for each person.
- Emergency poncho.
- Pair of boots each person.
- Phone change. $6.50 in quarters fit in a plastic 35mm film container nicely.
- $50 cash min, in ones, five's, and tens.
- Duplicate credit cards.
- Photo copies of ID.
- Spare checks.
- Playing cards.
- Spare keys