Project 5 for Competent Communication – National Preparedness Month – 3 September 2013

Square Hero

Those of you who know me know that I like to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.  In this case, it is preparing for emergencies.  September serves as an annual reminder to me that I have to update my emergency plans and supplies.  For the last several years, I have shared preparedness tips with my family, friends and co-workers.  Mostly, I just refer them to info from, but this year I am having a blast participating in 30 Days, 30 Ways (and was even a Day 2 winner!) and am sharing that with them as well. (You can follow my entries @KalKaryn.)  This year, I presented this speech at my Toastmasters group and although I did not win, I did inspire some people to go home make some emergency plans.  The last several weeks, I had virtually eliminated my ah’s, but I lapsed this week and I started out my speech with an ah in the first few sentences.  Luckily, I got back on track and only had the one.  I think the reason for the nervousness stemmed from the fact that we invited another Toastmasters group to join us due to their being dark on Monday for Labor Day.  🙂  I hope you are inspired by this particular blog and I would love to hear what you did to “celebrate” National Preparedness Month.

Who here remembers Boxing Day 2004 when an earthquake in the Indian Ocean triggered a tsunami that killed almost a quarter of a million people and displaced millions more half way around the world from one another?  What about Hurricanes Katrina and Rita?  Although most of the damage and fatalities were concentrated along the Gulf coasts, remnants of the storm hit the Midwest knocking out electricity for my relatives in Ohio.  A Super Outbreak consisting of 332 confirmed tornadoes hit the American Midwest over 4 days in 2011.  In 2012, Superstorm Sandy caused widespread destruction up the East Coast from Cuba to Canada.  At this very moment, the Rim fire in Yosemite has burned over 235 thousand acres.  Luckily, they do not anticipate it growing as large as the Southern California fires of October 2007.

It does not matter where in the world you live, there is a potential for some sort of disaster to hit.  Besides brush fires, in this area we are also susceptible to earthquakes, mudslides, tsunamis and flooding not to mention riots, nuclear meltdowns and car chases that shut down the freeways.  Last year, those of us south of Crown Valley experienced a power outage due to someone throwing the wrong switch.  At my house, it lasted about 12 hours.  I could not contact anybody to check on my dog, so I had to head home from work along with everybody else.  After it took me almost an hour just to get off at my freeway exit, I finally made it home.  I was surprised at how very quiet it was.  It seemed that once people got home, they stayed there even though it was life as normal just a couple miles away.  I turned on a radio to get the lowdown.  I had to laugh when I heard the hosts talking to their counterparts in San Diego.  The LA hosts were asking, how bad is the looting?  What looting, San Diego asked?  You mean you have no looting going on?  The San Diego hosts said at stores people were taking their turns to go in a few at a time, get what they needed and leave.  The LA hosts responded with something about it must just be the crazy LA citizens who use any excuse to riot and loot.

Someone firing up their generator on the next street over broke the near silence at my house.  Admittedly, I thought it was a little early for them to fire it up, but kudos to them for being prepared!  After a short while, it was turned off and I did not hear it the rest of the night.  My sister emailed an article to me the next day about the fire department having to pry their gates open so that residents could get through.  When I read the article on their plight, another link told me why I did not hear that generator again.  Seems one of the neighbors was annoyed by the noise and told the other neighbor to shut it down.  Neighbor 2 said no, so neighbor 1 went home and got a screwdriver to come dismantle neighbor 2’s generator.  Things were said and neighbor 1 stabbed neighbor 2 with the screwdriver.  Since neighbor 1 went to the slammer and neighbor 2 to the hospital, there was no one around to fire up the generator again.

Speaking of my sister, she did not sleep until the electricity came on as there had been small brush fires in the area a few days earlier and she was afraid with the phones out, they might miss a reverse 911 call.  Lesson learned?  Cell phones were out due to towers being down, but the landlines were functional.  However, like most people these days, we have cordless electric phones, so we could not access the phone lines.  We both went out and bought old-fashioned phones to plug in the wall for the next time we have a power outage.

As tonight has a back-to-school theme, I thought I should try fit in a little something regarding schools.  For those of you with children do you know where your children will be transferred to if the school has to evacuate during a school day?  How do you retrieve your children during an emergency and if you are not available, who has permission to get them?  What if communications are down?  Would they know how and where to pick up your kids?  Where would you all meet up again?  Some things to think about on the way home tonight.

{Note to readers:  At this point in my speech, I started to “gear up” with an N95 dust mask, safety goggles, CERT hard hat and CERT safety vest.} September is National Preparedness month and my annual reminder to update my plans and supplies.  This year’s theme is You Can Be the Hero.  What are you going to do to celebrate?  I am using my super power of persuasion tonight encouraging all of you to prepare.  Realistically, you cannot prepare for every eventuality, but you should at least be knowledgeable about where you can quickly get the info you need.  I could go on for an hour giving you advice on what to do and how to do it, but instead I am just going to recommend all of you visit and read up on ways to prepare your family and business.  I am also participating in where they challenge you to one simple, yet fun task each day.  If you want cool gear like this, check with your city to see if they offer CERT or Community Emergency Response Team training.  I learned incident command, fire suppression, search and rescue and triage.  While I have not had to put most of those skills to the test yet, I did calmly save my nephew when he was choking and starting to turn blue thanks to training from CERT.  Talk to me at break and I would be glad to tell you about San Juan Capistrano CERT and some of the community outreach programs we are doing this month.

Whatever route you take, I hope you do something.  I am not trying to scare you into become survivalists, but everybody should have some basics at home, at work and in their vehicle.  I have seen how long it takes the government to respond even when they have a heads up such as a tropical storm gathering strength, so I know not to count on them right away when a disaster hits close to home, especially an unexpected one such as an earthquake.  One of my favorite quotes is it is better to be prepared years too early than a minute too late.  Please do not be late and do not plan on coming to my house because I am not sharing.  I hope I never get to be a hero, but if called upon, I am ready to do my part, are you?


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