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The Fire Department and Police department will be busy with prioritized response activities in a disaster so routine calls will generally not get priority. Their job during the first few critical hours is to assess the situation and respond to the most critical life safety impacts. That’s why it essential to be able to care for ourselves and those that depend on us. During one of the major earthquakes in California, 94% of individual rescues were done by ordinary citizens, not emergency responders.
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Ask yourself this question… Who depends on you and how will they take care of themselves if you can't be there to do it for them? Most of us are aware that we need to be better prepared for emergencies and disasters and we even know what we need to do. But, most of us either haven’t done anything or we’ve done very little. Why? As one prominent social scientist has said, “when the next big disaster hits, we’re going to have a large number of highly educated dead people”. And why is that? Because we think we can take care of ourselves, or we think… I can do that later… or we think…the “government” will take care of me. We may be wrong on all counts.
We are vulnerable to several predictable types of disasters in our area. Flood, windstorm, volcano and earthquake, just to name a few. Many of us were affected by the storms in the past couple of years with power outages, flooding and wind damage. Bad enough to result in a number of Presidentially Declared Disasters. You might not have been affected…this time. Maybe it’s only one house or family that in your neighborhood that was affected, but if that one is yours, then it’s catastrophic.
You may not realize that most major grocery stores use a method called Just-In-Time stocking to keep their shelves full. They receive, on average, two shipments each day to keep items flowing onto and off their shelves. If the roads are impassable because of an earthquake, mudslide, downed bridge, avalanche or a storm, the shelves may not be restocked when an item is sold out. A few hours may be all it takes for store shelves to be completely empty. If we’re quick and if the store in our neighborhood is open, we may be in luck. But if the store in our neighborhood is closed, we may have to depend on what we have stockpiled in our pantry for a food supply for a few days.
Ask yourself what you did (or wish you had done) during the last storm as the threat of floods and wind damage increased. What if it had been worse? What if you hadn’t been able to get home? Or to work? Or to pick up your child from school? Or what if you had gotten stranded for hours in your car? How prepared were you to handle it?
One prediction for our area is that there is an 85% chance of a major earthquake occurring during our lifetime. Washington State averages one Presidentially Declared disaster each year. We rank among the highest states in the nation for major, disruptive disasters. Most in recent years have been floods and windstorms but we in the greater Everett area are situated very near a major earthquake fault. The South Whidbey Fault runs through the tip of Whidbey Island and goes diagonally to the southeast and passes just south of downtown Everett. A moderate quake could cause significant damage.
These are just a few small steps we all can take to make sure we are prepared for any emergency and the disaster does not become our own. For more information and to get your supply of out-of-area contact cards, please contact Paul Ellis.