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The month of April is designated as “Earthquake Preparedness Month” and, with the devastating earthquake in Japan still fresh in people’s minds, it could not come at a more appropriate time.
The American Red Cross has published many advice tips on how to prepare for an earthquake on its website. Some of the advice ranges from storing one gallon of water per person per day to acquiring food that requires no refrigeration or cooking. The website stresses the importance of having a survival kit prepared and having an emergency plan in place in the event of an earthquake. This includes talking to family members about a meeting spot after an earthquake if family members are separated, to having a “point” person to check in with after an emergency to verify everyone is okay.
The City of West Hollywood has also taken steps to prepare itself for an earthquake and to inform the community of what actions to take to do the same. Shirley Berry, emergency management coordinator with the West Hollywood Public Safety Division, said the city changed its Emergency Response Plan last year and is taking other steps to make sure the city is prepared.
“We are replenishing earthquake supplies for our employees this month and also taking inventory on the supplies we currently have,” Berry said.
Other measures the city has taken includes testing their satellite radios and the emergency notification system.
The Public Safety Commission will also have a booth at the 16th annual Healthy West Hollywood Kids’ Fair on Saturday at West Hollywood Park where they will distribute brochures and other helpful information from Los Angeles County and the Red Cross on how to stay prepared for an earthquake. They will also be giving out free safety motion lights to homeowners. A local hardware store will also have a booth at the fair where they will be selling tools and supplies necessary to prepare for an earthquake.
The Public Safety Commission will have a guest speaker from the Los Angeles County Fire Department’s California Taskforce Team at the commission’s meeting on Monday to discuss and share experiences and lessons learned through assisting communities in previous disasters.
“We are always preparing with the county fire departments and sheriff’s department,” Berry said. “We are continuously trying to get the word out to the community to get them to be proactive and not just wait for the government or other officials to save them after a disaster.”
A local couple has also been proactive, creating a new survival kit in the form of a vest to help prepare residents in the event of an earthquake. Stanley Isaacs and his wife, Cheryl Boone-Isaacs, created the “Grab-N-Go Vest,” which comes fully stocked with 10 items and supplies necessary to survive the first 48 hours after a major earthquake or other disaster. The couple underwent Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training last summer and came up with the idea to produce and sell the vest, but the vest itself was in the works long before that.
“I had come home from a movie I was working on that required me to wear a vest,” said Isaacs, who has been a writer and producer for more than 30 years. “When I got back home, I didn’t know what to do with the vest so I just started stuffing tools and other supplies into the pockets.”
When the 1994 Northridge earthquake struck, Isaacs immediately strapped on the vest and the idea was born.
“My wife never forgot that,” Isaacs said. “And now here we are.”
Soon after completing the CERT training, Isaacs got to work on the vest and gathered more than 35 items to incorporate into the vest. He consulted with the CERT instructors to see which items were the most important.
“I asked them to tell me what the essential products were and they helped me narrow it down to ten items,” Isaacs said.
The vest weighs four pounds and includes a first aid kit, a 14-in-one multipurpose tool, military-grade water purification tablets, an energy bar and an LED flashlight.
While the vest is one of many earthquake survival kits available, Isaacs said the ability to strap the vest on is its biggest advantage.
“You don’t have to carry around a big backpack or anything bulky like that,” Isaacs said. “You can just strap it on and you are ready to go.”
Whether residents choose to purchase the vest, priced at $75, or another survival kit, Berry said it is essential to have something in place to stay prepared in case of an emergency.
“You don’t have to buy everything at once,” Berry said. “But you should have a kit available at places you frequent like at home, in the car or at the workplace.”
Isaacs also stressed the importance of a survival kit and having a plan in place, just as it was stressed to him in CERT training.
“They tell you the first night of training not to expect any help,” Isaacs said. “Emergency crews are going to be busy, roads will be impaired and services will be out so you need to learn to take care of yourself.”
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