Saturday, May 23, 2015

Earthquake--35 Questions

Apparently there was an earthquake in Las Vegas yesterday.  I, however, didn't feel a thing.  There was a slight rumble which I attributed to a heavy truck going by but a few minutes later the TV news, Twitter, Reddit and Facebook all lit up with claims of a 4.8 earthquake about a hundred miles north of Las Vegas.  Some in the neighborhood felt it, others didn't.

While I was quite happy that the earthquake was little more than a shudder instead of a major quake like I had experienced some years ago (which sent myself and a room full of disaster responders under the tables in our meeting room--and left us quickly calculating the possibility of the building we were in failing) a number of questions did come to mind...

  1. Are earthquakes even common in this part of the country?  Yes but not to the extent of California or Washington.
  2. Do I have earthquake insurance?  Nope but it might be a good idea.
  3. Do I have the means to turn off the gas and is it necessary?  Yes and no.
  4. Ditto for the water.  Yes and no.
  5. Ditto for the main electricity breaker.  Yes and no.
  6. Are my loved ones safe?  Yep the spouse had no idea there was a quake either.
  7. What about neighbors and friends?  There was no commotion outside and the relatives we have nearby are all out of town on vacation.
  8. Do I have a way to tell distant friends and relatives that all is OK?  Yep, Facebook and Twitter took care of this.
  9. Is there any damage to my house?  A quick look around, both inside and out, showed no noticeable problems.
  10. Do I have access to updated information on the situation?  The TV news, Twitter, Reddit, and Facebook took care of this.
  11. Will there be aftershocks?  According to the news there was a 25% chance of this and and according to the USGS there were a few even smaller quakes that happened a couple hours later.
  12. Do I have alternate water in case a larger earthquake happens?  Yep, lots of bottled water stored.
  13. Do we have enough food stored so we don't need to go to the grocery store (these type of events can lead to store shelves being cleared immediately).  Yep.  Lots.
  14. Do I have enough gas in our vehicle in case we need to evacuate?  Yep, a full tank.
  15. Do we have enough other supplies (toilet paper, soap, etc) to last for a while?  Yep.
  16. Do we have enough cash to buy food or gas in case the electricity goes down and bank cards won't work?  Yep.
  17. How will we cook if we have to shut off the gas?  Electric appliances (toaster oven, rice cooker, etc), a backyard grill, a camp stove, and a backpacking stove.
  18. How will we flush toilets if the water is off?  Grey water from washing, and water from the fish tank if necessary.
  19. How will we wash up if the water is turned off?  Wet wipes, sparingly with stored water, collecting rain water (it's been raining here quite a bit).
  20. Where would we evacuate to if our house is damaged?  Haul out the backpacking gear and set up shop in the back yard (fortunately it hasn't got extremely hot yet this year).  We could also use any of the relatives homes in the area.
  21. Could we evacuate even further afield?  Yep.  If necessary we could head to any number of states (however in a massive disaster many other people will have the same idea so evacuating won't be easy or quick).
  22. If the situation was more severe would we be safe in our neighborhood living outside for a while?  Meh.  It's a nice enough neighborhood but still in a city and while our neighbors seem nice enough as well, I don't know them well enough.  I don't have a lot of confidence in city folks in the event of a major disaster.
  23. Am I prepared to protect myself and my family if necessary?  You betcha. 
  24. Could we take care of any minor medical emergencies by ourselves?  Yep.
  25. Would there be enough resources to take care of major medical emergencies in the event of a large-scale disaster?  Lemme Level 1 trauma center, a handful of hospitals, 300,000(!) people in town for the holiday weekend...I'm guessing no.
  26. Does the spouse have enough prescription meds for a good length of time?  Yes.
  27. Do we have a plan for travel around or thorough the city after a larger disaster?  Yes, there are very few overpasses and no bridges that could collapse except for on the I 15 freeway.  Surface streets should be structurally sound (they are flat and wide since it is the desert, off-roading wouldn't be a problem here if needed).
  28. Will there be weather concerns if there is no gas or electricity?  Not currently, it is neither too hot nor too cold at this point (but it should be getting pretty hot in a couple of weeks).
  29. Will this incident interrupt our ability to work and earn money?  Nope, we are retired.
  30. Will this incident interrupt our ability to access our money?  Everything is done online so no (as long as we have access to the bank via online or phone).
  31. Do we have a way to charge our cell phones and laptops?  Yep, both a converter to use in the car's cigarette lighter and a backpacking solar charger.  Whether the internet will be up is another story.
  32. How will we keep ourselves entertained with no electronics available?  Kindle books, cards, board games, etc.
  33. Are there other related disasters occurring that I need to deal with?  Fortunately we were at home and not on the freeway that ended up being shut down due to possible earthquake damage.  Being stranded in the car would not have been a huge problem (we have a thorough emergency kit in the car and it isn't too hot to wait out a prolonged back up in our vehicle).
  34. Are there other unrelated disasters that could occur now?  There has been some rain but not enough for major flash flooding, also the city is situated up river from the Hoover Dam (and the dammed area is sadly lacking in water anyway) which shouldn't be overlooked as dams can be compromised during an earthquake causing even bigger problems.
  35. How prepared is my community for such a disaster?  Meh, like most cities there are preparedness activities taking place at all levels of government and reams have been written on the topic but in reality we will be pretty much on our own for a while due to many limitations (number of responders, remote location, number of people overall in the city, etc).

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