|By Mary Callahan, The Press Democrat, Santa Rosa, Calif.|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
That's the counsel of folks who work in the field of disaster preparedness and emergency response in the wake of the latest reminder Sunday that catastrophe can strike anywhere, any moment -- especially in seismically uncertain
Don't wait for a better moment to stock water, they said. And put aside some nonperishable food, too, as well as blankets, a flashlight and a first-aid kit -- the kinds of things that may make the difference in the aftermath of a natural disaster. Or not.
There are lots of checklists in circulation to help people living anywhere settle on the ideal contents of a disaster survival kit for them and their families.
But for those who can't seem to get to it, "even thinking it out is a step in the right direction,"
Californians know we could be hit any moment with an earthquake like the magnitude- 6.0 shaker that struck outside the city of
But most are familiar, too, with the post-quake, post-disaster urgency that many experience around the issue of disaster preparedness when they've had a close call -- only to have it dissipate when the shock subsides.
Then around six months ago, spurred by she knows now what, she finally decided, "I'm not going to be one of those people who wishes they had when it's too late," said Clark, 36.
So she started with a backpack in her car, stuffed with the most important items, and has added and swapped out items since then, keeping pace with technology updates that, for example, make crank radios readily available now.
But she said she's always amazed by how many clients in her alternative health practice don't seem to think having an emergency kit prepared is important.
"It doesn't seem to be a priority for people. Maybe it just hasn't hit home hard enough," Pritchard said. "I don't know what it will take.
"In general, we have got to take greater responsibility for our own safety," said
But with many people so focused on the day-to-day demands of life, it's sometimes hard to focus on larger issues such as preparing for earthquakes, he and others said.
Some folks also may be overwhelmed by the daunting list of necessities they might need, or maybe perceived cost, when a natural or man-made disaster disrupts routine services like water and telephone communications.
Experts recommend people stock everything from work gloves to liquid bleach to copies of financial documents.
Sometimes, just the fear of what could happen puts up a mental block. Others said it's just complacency.
But Davis said his research suggests it's mostly what he called the issue of "salience."
"Most of the time we're consumed by our everyday problems," Davis said, "and it (disaster preparedness) takes a back seat."
But a still-relevant, 2008 study issued by the
The probability of a major quake on the Hayward-Rodgers Creek Fault system that runs through
"The information we provide is telling you something's coming, I don't know when," USGS seismologist
But looking at predictions and calculation may be "hanging our hats on the wrong hook," he said. "To me, the way I approach it .?.?. is to actually do something about it."
Helgren said most people could start by thinking about what they could take with them if they had time, and organizing what they already have, putting it together in a safe place that's likely to be accessible when trouble comes -- perhaps in a garage or car. Having a bag of supplies in one's vehicle is a great idea, even if it's not a comprehensive kit, he said.
Water -- a gallon per person per day for three days to two weeks;
Non-perishable foods that are replaced at regular intervals, and thus up-to-date;
Flashlight and batteries;
Battery-powered or hand-crank radio;
First-aid kid and a 7-day supply of necessary medications;
Sanitation and personal hygiene items;
Copies of personal documents, such as property deeds, proof of address, birth certificates, passports and insurance policies;
Cellphone and charger;
Family and emergency contact information;
Map of the area.
Assorted other items might include baby supplies, pet food, contact solution, extra car and house keys, a can opener, a whistle and rain gear.
Helgren also noted that the
Advice and checklists for creating disaster-survival kits are available at a variety of websites, including ready.gov, calema.ca.gov, redcross.org, and sonomacounty.ca.gov/FES/Emergency-Management/Emergency-Preparedness/Kits/.
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