Inside the Cave – It DID happen to me and my family.
September is National Preparedness Month. I read a lot, and I’m a pretty cautious “Cave Dweller” most of the time. For many years I kept looking at my own “Disaster Kit” that I’d put together for myself and family, and over those many years…I never used it. You look at it year after year, and think “is this worth the effort?” I lived in the coastal area and then later in San Fernando Valley of Southern California. 41 years in the area and never a problem until –
4:31 AM on Monday, January 17, 1994, the “Northridge Earthquake” hammered the San Fernando Valley, toppling freeways, igniting untold numbers of fires and ultimately inflicting $49 Billion dollars in damage, including thousands of injuries and the loss of many lives.
112,000 structures were damaged or destroyed and 20,000 people were displaced from their homes.
The second most costly disaster in U.S. history, Hurricane Katrina being # 1. We were lucky, but others were not. We suffered slight damage, but blocks away friends houses were badly damaged. My mother’s apartment complex was destroyed. It looked like a war zone. Power was out where we lived, phone lines out, no way to communicate and find out what happened or what to expect next.
Corporate Planning example:
The company I worked with for 23 years, Redken, was located in Canoga Park. Lot’s of damage, but guess what? We had a “disaster plan” with a company that specialized in immediate post-earthquake repair and building re-habilitation. While most of the companies around us were out for weeks, we were back in business within 3 days.
Event Planning example:
We produce large outdoor festival events. I always have a “show kit” so I have a means to quickly react to the unexpected. Lot’s of DUCT TAPE (Man Cave thing), yellow caution tape, First Aid kit (used this lot’s of times); ZIP TIES are key, screwdrivers, gloves, flashlights, batteries, scotch tape, paper, pens, staplers, bungy cords, etc. This kit is a must for event set-ups. Speaking of event set up: you can bet that we’re taking our fully stocked “show kit” over to Cashman Center for Harvest Festival Original Art & Craft Show tomorrow as we prepare to get the event rolling before it opens on Friday. Another key element that doesn’t quite go in the show kit…but we always make sure to bring a change of clothes. You never know when something could spill or tear, and you don’t want to get caught without something fresh to change into!
To finish up my earthquake experience regarding planning ahead –
So I gathered up my family, found my mother in the rubble of her complex and got them back to our house. My “kit” came in handy. As the electricity came back in my area later the next day, I found family and friends who needed help and a place to stay. They came and stayed with us as I had plenty of stored water, bedding, and canned food. The stores were either closed or only open for limited periods of time. A lot of people got by on what they had on hand.
I had more of what was needed as I’d “planned ahead.” We now live in Las Vegas. Anything is possible these days, earthquake, terrorist threats, severe weather, etc. With the extreme heat, I always have at least a week’s worth of water on hand for an emergency. I also learned from my Northridge experience that having battery powered radios and a certain type of non-electrical radio (hand crank, available at Radio Shack) and lot’s of spare batteries is essential to knowing what’s going on, and what to expect next. We now also have solar charging cell phone batteries as well. Extra canned foods, extra cash to be used only for an emergency can be critical. If the powers out, processing a credit card doesn’t work… Extra first aid supplies, matches, and the list goes on but it’s all doable.
Based on averages, they say you must have at least three (3) days of supplies for yourself/family, and that means assuming NO HELP for those three days.
I was surprised to learn that only about half of Americans have some sort of supplies set aside for a “disaster.” National Preparedness Month is about motivating people to rectify that and follow four steps.
1.Build a Kit
2. Make a Plan (with your family)
3. Stay Informed (battery powered and crank radio’s, lot’s of spare batteries, solar chargers, etc.)
4. Get Involved. Know simple first aid, maybe volunteer to help in your community.
FEMA has a website about how to “be prepared”. For more information go to:
We read about disaster situations others all over the world, and here in North America, and think how lucky we are that it didn’t happen to us.
Are you and your family prepared?