YORKTOWN, Va., Aug. 25, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Those living on the East Coast are getting a crash course on the importance of disaster preparedness. On August 23, a 5.8 magnitude earthquake struck central Virginia, the strongest regional quake in more than sixty years. Only a few days later, Hurricane Irene is expected to bring high winds and a deluge of rain to much of the eastern seaboard.
Dr. Arthur Bradley, author of the "Handbook to Practical Disaster Preparedness for the Family," offers these valuable tips:
- Batten down the hatches! Check for hazards in and near your home. Secure anything that might fall, including shelves, light fixtures, breakables, hot water heaters, and appliances. Install flexible lines to all gas appliances. Strengthen your home's structure by bracing the chimney, sheathing the crawlspace with plywood, installing anchor bolts or plates between sill and foundation, and adding braces between beams and posts.
- Duck and cover. Most earthquake-related injuries are due to collapsing structures, not from the actual shaking. Identify safe places in and around your home and place of work, such as a sturdy piece of furniture or a well framed wall. Stay away from windows. If outdoors, find an open space and drop to the ground. Stay clear of buildings, trees, bridges, and electrical lines.
- Get everyone onboard. Ensure that adults know how to shut off the utilities and that children are practiced at calling 911. Conduct family drills, identifying safe spots, noting danger areas, and discussing post-earthquake hazards, such as aftershocks, tsunamis, downed electrical wires, and gas leaks.
Hurricanes are particularly dangerous because they introduce five significant hazards: storm surge, marine safety, high winds, tornadoes, and inland flooding. Any one of these can cause considerable loss of life and damage to property. Together they represent a nearly worst-case scenario that requires extensive preparations.
- Secure the castle. Evaluate the structural integrity of your roof, windows, doors, and garage door. Consider making improvements, such as hurricane straps, truss bracing, and gable end bracing. Install storm shutters or precut 5/8-inch plywood to fit the windows. In addition to structural improvements, cut back trees and bushes, secure and clean out gutters and downspouts, and carefully stock a structurally sound room to act as a wind-resistant shelter.
- Stay alert = stay alive. If a hurricane warning is announced, close storm shutters or board up windows; cover skylights and glass doors. Monitor local news broadcasts for storm updates and road conditions. Gather keepsakes, valuables, and important papers on the highest level of the home, preferably in a waterproof container. Be ready to evacuate if ordered to do so by authorities.
- Hunker down. When the hurricane arrives, the primary goal is to stay safe. Keep away from windows and glass doors. Close curtains and blinds to help protect from flying glass and other debris. Secure and brace external doors. Close all interior doors. Retreat to the shelter, making sure that it is well stocked with flashlights, batteries, water, snacks, a first aid kit, pillows and blankets, a cell phone, and some games for the kids.
These and many other recommendations are found in Dr. Bradley's newest book, the Handbook to Practical Disaster Preparedness for the Family, 2nd Edition. Dr. Bradley is widely known for his no-nonsense approach to helping families create effective disaster preparedness plans.
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SOURCE Arthur Bradley, Ph.D.