Prepare for emergencies

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Editor’s note: Malibu resident Ken Krueger is a FEMA-tested member of the Malibu Community Emergency Response Team. He offered these emergency preparedness tips to help Malibu residents keep safe in the worst of scenarios.

The Boy Scout motto is to “Be Prepared!” Here are some thoughts to help be prepared for any emergency. Most of these items should be kept on hand in the home and in the car.

– Procure water storage, at least a 55-gallon drum. People die in days without water. A hot water heater is always good for a supply of water. Remember to shut off the feed during times of emergency. Emergencies can yield bad or no water for days or weeks.

– Store food for when markets may run out of supplies. Online retailers have special deals for emergency food kits.

– Stock up on medicines, at least couple of week’s supply, but preferably a month’s worth. Keep a list of medications, or Medic Alert.

– Kinetic-run-or “shake to charge”- flashlights and crank-run radios will run without batteries or plugging into an outlet.

– A first aid kit, including gloves and facemasks is a must, and learn first aid and CPR. Eyeglasses with a hard case, goggles, sturdy shoes, heavy duty gloves and a dust mask are good to have on hand.

– A crow bar, one by the bed and a small one by the driver’s seat in the car will help with getting out of a tight situation. Whistles will alert rescuers to your location.

– Car fuel should not get below a quarter tank, in case all gas stations are rendered inoperable by a disaster.

– Large plastic bags can be used as ponchos, tarps or for trash.

– Space blankets are small, light, cheap and retain 90 percent of the user’s body heat-great for the car. Have food, water, toothbrush and paste in your car, too.

– Keep sleeping bags, a tent and warm clothes on hand. It can get cold.

– Have a backpack to carry things like a first aid kit, whistle, food, water and a flashlight.

– Keep a copy of all personal documents safe, as well as a hard copy of out-of-area contact phone numbers for cars.

– A telephone landline is important, not just cell or cordless phones. They need power, but a landline does not.

– Power may become extremely expensive. So it’s not a bad idea to buy a generator that runs on diesel oil. Diesel oil keeps better than gasoline, which gets waxy after some time. Propane is also a good fuel, but it can be hard to find a generator that is set to run on propane. Some can be hooked up to the natural gas line, but then that creates a dependence on the natural gas line that could get cut during a severe earthquake. Diesel doesn’t have much vapor pressure, so it can be stored just about anywhere, including inside the garage. Propane is under pressure so it needs proper storage.

– A bicycle that is in good shape to get around when car fuel is nowhere to be found.

– Keep paper plates and plastic knives, forks and spoons, because if there’s no water, there’s no way to wash dishes.

– A large plastic garbage bag can be used for garbage/human waste. Have plenty of diapers, formula and wipes for infants, pet food for the animals and fresh litter for indoor cats.

– Do not leave home during an evacuation without many days worth of necessities such as food, water, clothing and shoes. Have an emergency meeting place designated.

– Get AAA maps of the local area, county and state. Keep a highlighter, pen and pencil with it to mark where the emergency occurred. Seeing the big picture will make it easier to plan evacuation routes and avoid hazardous areas.

– Our government is spending and borrowing trillions of dollars. The deficit is projected to increase each year over a trillion dollars per year, adding to the deficit. It is important for families to be prepared during an economic disaster. Get out of debt as soon as possible. Save money.

– Have hundreds of dollars in small currency at home and in the car and hundreds of dollars in face value of U.S. silver coins from before 1971, as they are 90 percent pure. They have inherent value and are worth much more. During an inflationary period they will increase exponentially in barter value. Bank ATMs may be shut down or “bank policy” may stop you from getting cash out.

– Be prepared to barter, so start getting a sense of what possessions may be worth.

– Another special consideration for Southern Californians would be what to do if an earthquake hits while driving. Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey says in such a situation slowly move away from wires, move to the side of the road until shaking ceases and stay away from bridges and overpasses.

For a comprehensive seven-step plan to earthquake preparedness, visit the Southern California Earthquake Center’s “Putting Down Roots in Earthquake Country” handbook at www.earthquakecountry.info/roots/contents.html

The American Red Cross has a list of items that should be in every household’s disaster supplies kit at www.redcross.org.

-Ken Krueger