3 Things to Remember in an Emergency Situation
Recent storms and flooding have given us a good reminder to make sure our emergency preparedness plans & provisions are up-to-date and ready when disaster strikes. I. Am. Not. Prepared. Never have.
I've experienced tornados, hurricanes, earthquakes and a near-miss with a volcano. One thing I've learned over the years is that, at least the first time you experience any of these natural disasters, all training flies out the window. That's why I feel it's very important to provide you with the Jamie Garrett Emergency Preparedness Plan in case disaster strikes.
Even two to three years back I would have assumed earthquakes were something we wouldn't have to worry about in Texas. I figured if an earthquake hit us, it would be part of a much bigger natural disaster where California, Oregon & Washington fell off into the sea, and my preparedness would be worth zilch with millions falling into the ocean.
Thanks to fracking, and thanks to an unwillingness to recognize that earthquakes are caused by fracking, the practice will continue to break up the earth below us, fill our water supply with deadly carcinogens that light our tap water on fire and cause the earth to quake in places that have never before experienced earthquakes for the foreseeable future. That's reason enough to prepare for an unnatural disaster such as fracking-induced earthquakes. As long as money can be made, your fine china be damned, we're frickin' frackin' the ground beneath you. Be prepared.
Through the years, a lot of us have heard of the recommendation that we find and stand in a doorway. Upon first moving to Alaska in 2002, I learned a lot about earthquake prep and execution of safety plans. You see, before fracking, the earthquake-iest place in America was Alaska. Hundreds, if not thousands, of earthquakes occur every year in Alaska. Most are minor and not felt by people without proper instrumentation.
The myth of standing in a doorway was the first thing I through out the window. I was told that if you stand in a doorway and hang on for balance, the door can slam shut, and it's very difficult digging yourself out of rubble or helping neighbors with crushed digits.
Instead, you're told to go underneath a table, hang on to one leg and stay there for protection from falling debris until the earthquake has stopped. That sounds like a solid plan, I thought. I thought wrong. The worst part about an earthquake is that there's no prep time at all. With tornados & hurricanes you have radar predicting the path & location of the storm, and even without the TV or radio, your eyes can show you that bad things are headed your way.
No, chances are you'll be in the most unhelpful place and situation when an earthquake strikes. The first time I felt an earthquake in Alaska, my wife was on the toilet and I was holding my newborn son, Tyler, feeding him a bottle. When an earthquake strikes, especially the first you've experienced, it's important to remember the "Jamie Garrett Emergency Preparedness Plan of Action" guidelines for earthquakes.
Despite your plan and your cool demeanor, you're going to go through the 3 stages of experiencing an earthquake. The 1st stage is the "what's that?" stage. This is a stage that will have you simply asking, "What's that?" for an undetermined period of time. The 2nd stage is the "OMG that's an earthquake" stage, where you think, either in your head or out loud, "OMG, that's an earthquake".
The 3rd, and most important, stage is the "Freeze" stage. Yes, despite your plan and a nearby table, you're going to freeze and hope for the best. Don't go running to a table. The ground is moving beneath you. Check to make sure there's nothing on a shelf that's gonna clobber you in the noggin, and just freeze.
The Jamie Garrett method for surviving an earthquake could very well save your life one day during an earthquake.
Just like with earthquakes, the chances of a full-strength hurricane hitting Central Texas are slim-to-none. Still, with vacations to the coast being something we Central Texans do on the reg, it's important to be prepared. What if you're on vacation, you wait until the last second as you hope the storm turns, and you find yourself stuck on a road out of town with 100,000 other suckers. I mean, tourists.
I lived through Hurricane Georges in 1998 while working at a radio station in Laurel/Hattiesburg, MS. Unlike an earthquake, there is plenty of time to plan for a hurricane. Thanks to Weather Channel coverage that borders on overkill, we know it every time a system leaves the western coast of Africa. We can identify, name and track a storm for a full week before it hits the coasts of America. That being said, not everyone is willing (or able) to prepare.
Most people just assume the storm will turn and the weathermen (as always) will be wrong. Sure, you'll see boards going up on windows and stores being cleared out, but that's generally 72-hours away from landfall. I'm talking to the people that wait until that first rain band blows on shore before realizing, "Maybe I should grab some food at the store just in case".
I was one of those people while working at that radio station in Mississippi. For me, it was the perfect storm of unpreparedness. I was broke, the cabinets were close to bare, and my usual nutrition & sustenance source (Domino's Pizza) was likely going to stay closed during the storm. I also lived in a mobile home next to a large row of very thin, very tall pine trees that looked like they'd topple at the first gust of wind.
Being 50 or 60 miles from the coast meant the flooding and the hurricane-force winds wouldn't be something we'd have to worry about. That gave me a false sense of confidence that disappeared with the first band of tropical rain.
Once that first band hit, I hit the road and drove the 3/4 of a mile to the radio station. Brick buildings stand up a lot better to the wrath of mother nature than do mobile homes. I've read "Three Little Pigs". I know how that works. My brother (who was living and working with me at the time) and I went up to work, where we'd spend the next two days as we waited for the storm to pass.
My steps to surviving a hurricane are: Step 1. Find a sturdy and comfy place to camp out. The thing most people don't take into account is that storm is going to last for days, not hours. It will just go on and on, and when you think it's done, you're only halfway through. Not only is having a safe place important. It's also important to have enough wiggle room so you don't snap and murder the person you're holed up with. Not only does the storm last and last, but it's followed by days of no electricity and roads impassable due to flooding or downed trees.
The 2nd step in surviving a hurricane is ensuring you have proper tools for when the power goes out. I learned the hard way that you can have all the food needed to survive four days without power, but without the proper tools to open and cook that food, you're screwed. I had all the canned goods I'd need to survive an apocalypse, but I had an electric can opener. D'oh!. That's a moment of pure panic. It turned me into a caveman for 3 days as a attempted to stab and muscle my way into some refried beans for a burrito I couldn't heat up in the microwave.
I'm happy to say I made it through that storm, and I'm even happier to say I haven't been through another hurricane since. That's because I made the smartest decision EVER and moved OUT of Mississippi and INTO Texas before the end of that year.
Nothing. You read that correctly. Nothing can be done to protect yourself in flash flooding. I'm 100% serious. No attempt at humor here. I've read about too many people right here in Central Texas during the most recent floods that needlessly lost their lives when they or their cars were swept away by raging waters.
Your car isn't a special one-of-a-kind buoyant metal box. It WILL float... just long enough to sweep you off a road and down a violent stretch of flooded water. Then the car will sink. All cars are the same, and no car model has yet been designed to become amphibious at a moment's notice.
Please be safe. You may not need this important info for another decade, as I'm sure we'll now transition directly back from record flooding to record droughts, but when you do need it, please remember the safety tips from Jamie Garrett. Turn around, don't drown. It's about as cheesy a slogan as you could have, but it's as sternly-worded as it can be without upsetting the good people of Central Texas' decent moral fibers.