Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Earthquakes in NYC and You

     So I wanted to put a post together for New Yorker’s who might be looking for more information on earthquake preparation.  Now many of my normal readers will know these things, and will be well on their way to having many of these preps in their everyday lives by now, so for them this post will be a refresher.

     I would like to first point out that I don’t believe that another earthquake is in our near future, but I do believe that we should prepare for the things we can, and let go of the rest.  Disasters, or narrowly averted ones, should be a wakeup call to the un- or underprepared.  I’m hoping I can guide a few new people to prepping due to this week’s dual disaster threats when they look to the internet for information.

     When we start the journey of self-reliance, we may find that it can be overwhelming.  The key is to not get lost in the hype and to realize that there is a commonality to our preps.  So if I’m prepared for a snowstorm, then my preps for a hurricane are not going to be much different.  We also start to look at what is much more likely in our area.  Earthquakes are not common, but bad thunderstorms and loss of electricity due to a heat wave are.  So if I’m prepared for those, I am most likely prepared for something less likely, but still possible (i.e. hurricanes.)  The preps that I’m suggesting below are just a few basic preps that I believe everyone should have in place for any disaster.  There is much more detail and guidance for you in many of my other posts if you are looking for more information.

     The first topic I will discuss when it comes to earthquake preps is what I’ll call “work preps”.  Most people that are familiar with this blog and others like it already know we suggest carrying an ECB bag (Everyday Carry Bag) during our everyday routines.  We also suggest a good EDC (Everyday Carry) system.  There are many different types of jobs in the city, too many to get into here.  So I will break it down into the most common types; on the go, and office workers.  For those of us that have “on the go jobs” (i.e. jobs where you’re not in one place all day) I suggest a well thought out ECB.  You can find a link to a previous article I’ve wrote on that here and a link to my EDC here.  For those of us that sit in the same office building all day, we can have a bit more leeway.  Not only will you be able to have a detailed EDC system, but you can also have a few preps in your office.  These would be things that you would not necessarily want to have on your person or in your ECB because of weight or size restrictions.

     The first and most important work prep is actually the same one you should have for your home, a hand-crank or solar rechargeable radio.  Being in the know can make the difference between chaos and survival.  I suggest keeping a pair of headphones attached to the radio as well in case you need to be discreet, or can’t hear over the others panic.  The below radio is one I own and suggest.  It is small, lightweight and can be left in a window to allow it to remain fully charged.

      The next prep is a rechargeable flashlight.  You can keep a higher quality battery operated one in your office if you prefer, just make sure you keep a sufficient supply of “good” batteries next to it.  I personally suggest a headlamp as it allows you to have both hands free for whatever you need.  Once again though, make sure you check the batteries every few months.

      Ever climb down 60 flights of stairs in high heels, or barefoot?  Well if you have, then you probably know about this prep already and should move on to the next.  If not, then this prep will allow you to hopefully never have to.  That prep is comfortable shoes.  These allow you to move safer, comfortably, and much faster.  Having a pair of lightweight comfortable hiking shoes, or old running sneakers can make a world of difference and is much better than high heels and or hard sole.  A few pairs of socks should be stored with them as well.  No telling when you are gonna be soaked in a rainstorm again.

      This is one of those optional ones, but they definitely won’t hurt; a cheap pair of work gloves.  They can be useful if you need to remove debris or if you unfortunately have to resort to self-defense.

      As yesterday, and other disasters before (911) have proven, our phone system can’t handle the weight of everyone using their phones at once.  Texting is the best choice as it takes the least data usage to perform, and has the best chance to go through.  But if the disaster was on a much larger scale, the system would either fail or be restricted to emergency and government use only.  To combat against cell phones false sense of security, I suggest keeping a two-way radio of some sort in your office.  The second radio should be left at your apartment, or given to your significant other to leave in their office.  Price ranges for radios can be cheap to bank breakers, so you’re going to have to figure out what kind of investment you would like to make.  The radios I suggest below are on the cheaper side, and I’m not entirely sure they would work as I have not personally tested them.  They say there range is miles, but obstructions can throw them off.  If you don’t trust radios, or you don’t want to make the investment, the next prep is a quick solution.

      Have a plan!  If there is a disaster, and you can’t reach your immediate family members make sure you have a plan on where to meet and what to do.  In fact, you should have multiple plans, for different situations.  Talk to your family now, as there is no better time like after a disaster to really get them listening and motivated.  You should also make sure that your extended family knows a few of your plans as well.

      These are just a few possible suggestions as each office and situation will be a bit different.  This list is my basic bare minimum suggestions, and you can add to it whatever you would like.  It should suffice especially if you have a well thought out ECB, as well as a good EDC system. 
In my EDC system you will notice I wear a whistle around my neck on a necklace. This is for a few reasons, but the two most important ones are self-defense and for being found if lost or trapped under rubble.

     When it comes to home preps there are many similarities.  Radio, flashlight, gloves should all be in place already.  Water and food are of course big ones as well.  I have written extensively on these topics before, and you can find much more detail on the blog.  Remember the basics of earthquake survival, if indoors find a good solid doorway, and brace yourself between it.  If outdoors, get to an open location where nothing can fall on you (easier said than done in NYC, I know.)  If there are bad aftershocks, then you will have to leave your structure and sleep in open areas like a park until they subside.  This is where a good B.O.B. and tent may come in handy.  Spike TV has a great series on disaster scenarios and they have an informative episode on earthquakes that you can find here.
     I won’t bore you with my personal story of “What were you doing during the earthquake?” as we’ve probably heard one too many stories, and I know we’ll hear many more.  I will mention that I was not in the city, but was off the island in one of the boroughs.  Having a well prepped ECB on me with enough water and food to last me for a few days I felt empowered and confident.  As that is the goal of disaster preparation; taking matters into our own hands as responsible New Yorkers so that we will not have to rely on others whatever the crisis may be.



Anonymous said...

I like the idea of having some of these items on you, but how about when your enjoying a night out and cant exactly have it all? I like to dress and dont want to have to look like a nomad in the streets. Afterall, I live in the city.

City slicker

JV said...

Great question, thanks for asking! As the posts on my EDC system states the key is to blend in, and I am still a firm believer in that. There is the simple reality that everything is situational though. When I came up with my EDC system I first looked at what I carried on a daily basis already; wallet, keys, necklace, etc. I was then able to fine tune those items. I already knew I was carrying a wallet every day, and never left the house without it, so why not add things to that wallet that could help with disaster situations. I wanted items that would not make the wallet bulky or heavier and would be extremely useful. I then looked at trends, so my keys are on a carabiner which I hang from my pants which is in style right now. Carabiners allow you to keep more on your key chain then you normally would be able to, so the trend works in my favor. When you start to see that you already carry certain items on you in your daily life, you can start adding to them. So if you carry a purse, make sure you keep items in there at all times.

The ECB (everyday carry bag) is a bit different. I carry that whenever possible, but it is not ideal for certain situations. If you are going out to dinner with friends, you are not about to bring a backpack. The ECB is considered a bonus, just like all pieces of your kit. I have it with me as much as possible, but it just isn’t always feasible. This is where the EDC comes into play. When I don’t have my ECB I beef up my EDC a bit. So for example; I keep 50 ft. of paracord in my ECB, if I don’t have the bag on me I then throw on my paracord bracelet so I at least have some rope on me. It is the same with my knife. If I can’t carry my Leatherman strapped to my belt, I put my smaller Swiss Army Knife in my pocket. That way I fine tune my system to the situation.

So, now to answer your question; my system allows me to blend into the crowd or situation without looking out of place, or like a “nomad”. If you were standing next to me on the train, you would not realize that I had these things on me as they do not make me ‘stick out’. I dress normal for my age, and the only difference might be that I have a multi-tool attached to my belt, which is not that uncommon and actually looks like a cell phone case. You would have no idea that I had a way of making fire on me, two forms of signaling, rope, knife, tools, two compasses, a barometer, altimeter (those three thanks to my watch,) duck tape, container, flashlight, plus all the things I use in my daily life (keys, money, so on.) And that is just on my person in my EDC, and does not include the functions of my ECB. Get creative, watch the trends, and don’t worry about what others will think. Chances are they are too concerned with their own image to worry about yours.