Simple & Easy – Emergency Preparedness
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Emergency Awareness Plan Part 3

LDS - Preparedness

After you prepared your 72 hour kit, another important step in your family’s preparedness plan is to start looking for ways to increase the safety of your home, especially if you redecorate, move to a new home or make structural changes to the home you live in. Many disasters can be avoided completely or the risk greatly reduced from some additional planning and thought.

The first thing we need to do is identify key danger zones in the home. Make sure that beds are not located under windows that can break during an earthquake or other house-shifting disaster. Heavy mirrors and artwork should not hang over beds either because of this hazard. Another suggestion would be to quickly locate a pair of sturdy work gloves and shoes. Also, keep a fully-charged flashlight in your nightstand or by your bed, in case the power goes out during the crisis.

One appliance of particular concern is the water heater. In California, the building code requires the water heater to be braced or secured to wall studs so it doesn’t fall down during the shaking. This is important because the water heater has gas or electric and water lines running to it and these utility lines will often break or rupture if the heater shifts or tips. Check to make sure your water heater is secured and if not, call a professional for help.

During some emergencies, the gas line in your home may break or leak when shifted. Your main gas line coming into your home has a valve usually placed next to the meter that can be shut off in case of emergency. Natural gas that is piped into the home has a rotten egg odor that the gas company adds so you will notice that there is a leak. If you can smell this odor following a disaster, shut off the gas until a professional can come up and inspect your line and fix the problem.

You should attach a non-sparking wrench near the main valve so you don’t have to go searching for a wrench that fits during an emergency. It’s often a good idea to teach each responsible member of the family how to shut off the gas, water and electricity. If they are home when the disaster strikes, they can take care of some of these basics. As everyone is learning how to shut off these utilities, make sure that you inspect the valves or switches of each utility to make sure that they are accessible and in good repair.

Sometimes, especially with older homes, trees or shrubbery may block access to the valve and it’s a good thing to discover this now and take care of the problem, rather than wait until disaster strikes. The main water valve is usually near the water meter outside the house. Make sure you know how to turn it off – whether with a lever like this or requiring a wrench. Electrical problems during an emergency can be as simple as a blackout or as complex as an electrical fire, burning into the walls in your home.

You can do a few things right now that can help minimize the risk of electrical problem during emergency. Number 1: learn how to shut off the electricity to the house. Number 2: label all circuits and the panel so you can tell which switch, controls which circuits in your home. Number 3: be sure all repairs and upgrades to your electrical system are done according to the local code. Number 4: include a fire extinguisher in your home or garage. Make sure it’s rated for types of fires. Don’t ever overload your electrical circuits and check for clusters of appliances all using the same outlet.

Don’t store old paint, varnishes, thinners or other petroleum-based products in open containers that don’t have secured seals in place. Throw away old cloths and rags used to wash cars. Throw away any old cloths and rags used in painting and refinishing as soon as you’re done with the, don’t store large amounts of combustible fuel like gasoline or white gas used in camping stoves. With any other fuels you do store, be sure to keep them in a ventilated area in well-marked containers.

As you make your home safer from these potential disasters, you will discover other potential hazards that may be unique to your home. As your circumstances change, continue to be safety-conscious and remember to continuously adapt your family’s preparedness plans as these changes occur.

Another important step in your family preparedness plan is to develop an emergency evacuation plan for your home.

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