by Tom Philliips, Woodlawn/Vernon/Concordia Neighborhood Emergency Team (NET)

Preparing for a potential emergency situation can seem overwhelming but it does not have to be.  If we knew a large scale emergency situation was going to happen tomorrow, we could be forgiven for going direct to panic mode but, as with so many other things in life, one step at a time works best. 

Here is one way to start preparing if you have not already done so. I’ll call it “first things first.” In the event of “the big one,” meaning the Cascadia subduction zone earthquake that would likely render all of Portland a disaster zone, the first thing to be prepared for is moving around in our homes, night or day. 

In a large earthquake there will be broken glass from windows, glasses, and bottles. Power will be down so we will not have lights. There will likely be structural damage to our homes making movement potentially unsafe or even impossible. What will you need at that moment, when the earth stops shaking? You will need and want what it takes to move safely through your home.  You will want a hard hat or old bicycle helmet, sturdy shoes and socks, leather work gloves, and a flashlight.

Also, in the event you cannot get out of your room, you’ll want a whistle and a water bottle. Personally, in the corner of the bedroom, I keep an old pair of hiking boots, a $15 hard hat I bought at the hardware store, a small flashlight and whistle. They sit next to an emergency exit ladder (also a hardware store purchase) since our bedroom in on the second floor. 

Writing this article, I realized I did not have the work gloves or the water bottle up there, so I rounded these up and marched them upstairs where I hope I will never need them.

Preparing for moving around in your home following a major earthquake is important.  It is something we can all do, hopefully at little cost and with a bit of scrounging around to find things we might already have at hand. 

This type of preparation follows a RULE we heard over and over again during training to become NET qualified: Take care of yourselves first!  During an emergency, you will be no good for anyone else if you injure yourself in a situation that you might have avoided with advanced preparation.  

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