BOO - Halloween Aftershocks, Scary Stats and Why You Should Beware and Be Prepared
What is it about human nature that we only remember to plan for emergencies when we've had a little scare? The earthquakes of the past 2 days sent everyone into a frenzy, as the 5.6 quake was the worst we've had since '89 and yesterday we had a 3.7 aftershock. Other recent scares - the fires in Southern California, hurricane Katrina and the flooding in New Orleans, the tsunami in Indonesia, and of course 9/11. These events remind us that you just never know when a deadly disaster could strike your family.
I'll be writing more about what should be in emergency kits, but first, I want to go into the why. Remember what happened in New Orleans, after 9/11 and in the '89 quakes? Families were displaced, people were without water or electricity, many couldn't go back to their homes for months, people and animals died, and the resulting costs were astronomical.
Living in the Bay Area, we already know earthquakes and fires are a risk. What we don't often think about is that we have other risks - tornados (although rare, they do happen here), flooding and tsunamis are all possible. We know terrorism could strike anywhere, particularly in areas where there are military bases, large collections of people, government labs, and nuclear targets - all of which are in the Bay Area. We could also suffer from a nuclear accident from a nearby reactor or submarine-based weapon. These are unlikely scenarios, but not unfathomable.
Here are some statistics I found that really drove home why we need to prepare for worst-case scenarios in terms of numbers of deaths and displacements from disasters:
- 1906 - 7.9 San Francisco Earthquake and resulting fires - 100 dead, 200,000 displaced
- 1945 - Nuclear bomb in Hiroshima - 70,000 killed from blast, 70,000 injured, 70,000 later died from cancer and radiation-related diseases
- 1986 - Nuclear reactor meltdown in Chernobyl - 336,000 dead, another 20,000+ cancer-related deaths in years following, and another 20,000 cancer-related deaths still expected
- 1989 - 7.1 Loma Prieta Earthquake - 52 dead, 3,800 injured, 12,000 displaced
- 1991 - Oakland-Berkeley Hills Fire - 25 dead, 150 injured, 10,000 displaced
- 2001 - Terrorist Attacks (9/11) - 3,000 dead, 6,291 injured
- 2004 - 9.2 Indian Ocean Earthquake, 8.7 Aftershock & Tsunami - 225,000 dead, 1,126,900 displaced
- 2005 - 7.6 Earthquake in Pakistan - 80,000 dead, 69,000 injured, 3,300,000 displaced
- 2005 - Hurricane Katrina and Related Flooding - 238 dead, 950,000 displaced and/or eligible for federal assistance
Unbelievable, isn't it? I gasped when I read the numbers of displaced people. If you go into the economics, it's also awful - these disasters costing multiple billions of dollars. But the displaced people numbers should be enough to motivate all of us to update our emergency preparation plans and kits. Some families from earthquakes, tsunamis and floods can be displaced for years - basically they become refugees. We could all become refugees. So think about what you might want with you in that scenario and how you would want to prepare for the worst. How would you keep your family safe?
Here are a couple of quick resources for where you can find emergency kits and information:
- American Red Cross emergency kits
- Ready.gov from the Dept. of Homeland Security
- FEMA's In-Depth Guide to Citizen PreparednessQuake Kare kits and supplies
Motivated yet? I'll put up another post soon about what items should be in kits and more specifically about how to plan properly, but please feel free to post your own family's tips and experiences here.