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Are You Prepared?

01 Oct, 2002

This Emergency Preparedness Tip comes from Lon Stuart, a technical writer at OEC Medical Systems in Salt Lake City. Lon is an active Ham Radio Operator and has been chairman of the North Salt Lake Emergency Preparedness Committee. Besides being committee chairman, he has also been the communications manager for the city's Emergency Preparedness Committee. He has also been active in several other Emergency Preparedness organizations including an ad hoc committee at work.

Lon says, "I highly recommend amateur radio as a way to prepare for disaster. Hams can communicate when the rest of the services are down. There are clubs in each city usually, and they can provide classes and help for anyone interested in getting their amateur license."

"Our plant is located West of the SLC airport in an industrial center that is fairly isolated from the city, hence the concern for Emergency kits should the big shaker come along. We're overdue for it as we haven't had one in nearly 400 years here and the average is about one every 400 years, so we're getting ready to dive under our desks..."

Note: The Epicenter.com has formatted the information below but has only made minor editorial changes with the submitter's approval.

Imagine the following scenario

While working at your desk, you hear a distant rumbling. It's not a jet taking off at the airport. The building begins to shake, lights flicker and you realize that a major earthquake is in progress.

The natural thing to do is dive under your desk or the most sturdy piece of furniture close by. Meanwhile, debris is falling from the ceiling, bookcases are tipping over and calamity reigns for several minutes (it seems like an eternity - ask anyone who has been through a big quake...).

  • Stay calm and stay put!
  • If debris traps you under your desk, what can you do until rescuers arrive?
  • Do you have a survival kit nearby? If not, you are trapped without food or water for several hours or maybe several days.

But, what if you have a 72-hour office survival kit stashed under the desk? Sit back, crack open the box, pull out your flashlight and wait in relative comfort with the non-perishable food and three-day supply of water you have on hand. Water in sport plastic bottles is great for this use, but remember to change the water on a regular basis.

Did you cut yourself on a broken vase as you were diving under the desk? No problem - the first aid kit in your 72 hour supplies will fix you up with a Band-Aid or even a substantial bandage, if you need it.

If trapped inside a building, a 72-hour kit could save your life or make you more comfortable for the duration. Life gets lonesome in a hurry if you have to live underneath a desk.

Suppose you are able to exit the building after the shaking stops. Your first thought is of home and family.

  • Drive home? No way - If the shaker was around the 6.5 - 7.5 on the Richter scale, every freeway bridge in the valley may be down, starting with the one at the entrance to the freeway close to your workplace.
  • What to do? I hope you brought your 72-hour kit out of the building with you. Better yet, do you have another kit in your car? Great! You're going to need it!

Do these disasters strike at high noon when the temperature is mild and balmy? Never!. They usually come when the weather is gray, mean and nasty. Do you have a heavy jacket, blanket or space blanket in your 72-hour kit or car? We do have cold winter temperatures nearly half the year, you know.

After a disaster, you have two choices:

  1. Stay at work until things settle down and roads are cleared or...
  2. Head for home on Shank's ponies (your own two feet).

The first choice is preferred, if at all possible, but if you feel the extreme urge to head home, it's going to be a long walk. Be sure to let company disaster officials know what you plan to do and where you plan to go. (They might hog-tie you until the urge passes...)

Stay away from telephones - they probably won't be working anyhow.

What else will I need?

  • Shoes: It would be nice if you had a decent pair of tennis shoes in your 72-hour kit. Dress shoes or high heels won't cut it for cross country hiking, you know. And since it's going to be a long walk home - maybe several days - how about taking along the sleeping bag that is stashed in your car trunk?
  • Portable radio: A must for checking out the Emergency Broadcast System for the latest scoop on conditions throughout the rest of the valley. Extra radio batteries, candles and matches are also a necessity.
  • Money: That green stuff we all work so hard to accumulate - do you have a few bucks in your 72-hour kit? Plastic and checks generally won't pass in a disaster area.

Below is a list of supplies that Lon recommends.

There it is - food for thought - and this covers most things you need for an office 72-hour kit.Remember, it's not IF it happens, but WHEN!

Qty Description Shelf Life
1 Food Energy Bar (3600 calorie, 1 person for up to 3 days) 5 years
6 Water Ration Pouches, 4oz 5 years
1 Water Purification Tablets, bottle 3 years
1 Blanket (emergency reflective  
1 Poncho (emergency)  
1 Tube Tent (2-person w/ Rope)  
1 Matches, box (windproof/waterproof)  
1 Candle (100-hr)  
3 Lightsticks (12-hour, non-flammable) 4 years
1 Flashlight  
1 First Aid Kit (moderate-level care, with book (see list) 3 years
1 Knife (Swiss, pocket)  
1 Whistle  
1 Wash Cloth (handy-wipe)  
1 Toilet Tissue (in bag)  
5 Dusk Masks  
4 Zip Lock Bags  
1 Garbage Can Liner  
1 Back Pack (to hold 72-hour kit)  
1 Soap (hand, antibacterial; Dial brand)  
1 Chap Stick (Blistex brand) 3 years
1 Suntan Lotion (full block, wet/dry Face Aloe, 1oz SPF 25) 3 years
1 Toothbrush & Tooth Paste (travel kit with case) 3 years
1 Container (1 quart sized, for water tablets)  
2 Battery, D (for flashlight, with bag) 2 years
4 Battery, AA (for radio, with bag) 2 years
1 Radio (small, in bag)  
1 Cash - $75, in paper and coin (DO NOT store money in your 72-hour kit!)  
1 Jacket & Gloves (keep in car)  
1 Change of Clothes (with walking shoes)  
1 Blanket (wool blend)  
1 Medication, dated (prescription and over-the-counter) varies
1 Sleeping Bag (keep in car)  
3 Personal Hygiene  
OPTIONAL ITEMS (for consideration):
1 Dried Fruit (pack-dated) varies
1 Compass  
1 2nd Emergency Reflective Blanket (use under tent)  
1 Wash Cloth (white)  
1 Hand Towel (white)  
1 Odyssey Tent (2-man)  
4 Warmer Packs (18-hour, Hand AND Body)  
3 days MRE Food Supply (food 10-lbs, MRE, Side, Fruit Bars, Desserts, Hard Candy) 5 years
3 MRE Heater (to heat 3 entrees, 1 a day)