In the wake of Hurricane Isaac, President Obama has declared September National Preparedness Month. It’s a good time to take another look at your family’s state of disaster readiness. If you live on Oahu, a Preparedness EXPO sponsored by FEMA, the Department of Emergency Management and the Honolulu-Pacific Federal Executive Board is planned for September 26. So far, 2012 has seen its share of disasters, from wildfires and drought to storms and floods. Here is a list of declared disasters in the US in 2012 from FEMA. And if you’re curious, here is a list of major declared disasters in the state of Hawaii since 1955. Clearly we need to be ready for anything here as well.
Staying informed is a good first step. Assuming that the next disaster is not an EMP or high-energy CME which could disable all of our electronics (unless you have a homemade Faraday cage, which isn’t a bad idea), there are a multitude of ways to stay connected. If power and/or Internet is down in your area, you’ll want to be sure to have a battery, hand crank or solar-powered NOAA weather radio. A lot of them have ports to charge your phone and other small devices. Get Ready Hawaii is a great resource – they even offer various alerts. Other than various online monitoring services such as the National Hurricane Center or Global Incident Map, there are all kinds of apps for your smart phone you can use to track storms and get earthquake alerts. Weather.com offers quite a few options. Firefox has a pretty neat add-on called eQuake Alert, which causes your screen to jiggle when there is a quake. You can have the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center email you any warnings. Remember that a large earthquake anywhere around the Ring of Fire could cause a tsunami here in Hawaii within hours. Here are some tips for staying connected during a disaster from Off-grid.net. Another great resource is The Survival Mom, whose website is chock full of tips and ideas for readying your family. Here is an interesting article about survival.
Even though there is no advance warning system for earthquakes, with some simple reorganizing it’s possible to better protect your household from those sudden jolts. Check out Quakeinfo.org for tips on preparations around the house, such as fixing unsecured objects on shelves and placement of heavy furniture. I make sure my glassware is stored at the back of the shelf as much as possible, especially if it contains foodstuffs: after the quake we had here in 2006, I remember cleaning up the remains of a large glass container of cooking oil which fell and shattered on the floor. What a mess.
Drought remains a problem for much of the mainland, and in some places in Hawaii as well. If you live in an affected area, you already know how much your farm or garden can suffer. Many windward areas of the islands are on catchment, but here on the leeward side, we rely on county water. However, I do set up rainwater collecting buckets so when we do get some rain I have a little extra through the dry spells. Speaking of water, you may already know how important it is to have access to clean water during an emergency. I have suggested various water filtration options in a previous post. A solar still is an excellent alternative: build your own, or check out this portable option.
The mainland drought and subsequent food shortages will definitely affect us out here because so much of our food is shipped in. If you don’t yet grow any vegetables, now is the time to start. You could start small – sprinkle some spring onion seeds in a flower pot and pretty soon you can cross them off your grocery list. I keep three such pots going on our lanai in various stages of growth, so we always have some. Consider yourself fortunate that we can grow all year round in Hawaii. Stocking up on storable food isn’t a bad idea either, before things get too much more expensive. Watch for sales and remember to only store food you will actually use. We slowly work our way through our pantry stores and replenish as needed.
Plan to spend an hour or two sometime this month going through your family’s preparedness kits. Everyone should have supplies in their car (food, water, first aid, etc) as well as at home, ready to go at a moment’s notice. If you or a family member take medication, consider asking your doctor to write your prescription to cover a few extra weeks or months, just in case. Go over your emergency plan with your family again; make sure each child knows what to do and where to go, whether they are at home or at school, in case the unthinkable happens. And don’t forget about your pets.
Check out the links on my sidebar for more websites and information. Be prepared and stay safe.