Emergency preparedness: And when you're out on the town ...

By Joe Dougherty

For the Deseret News

Published: Sunday, April 1 2012 6:24 p.m. MDT

Children participate in the Great California ShakeOut earthquake drill in Los Angeles.

Damian Dovarganes, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

Editor's note: This article is part of a series on earthquake preparation. Read the rest of the articles here.

Our habits are who we are. They give us a sense of what is normal each day: You get up, have some food, brush your teeth, exercise. When you start skipping some of your habits, things feel off.

Habits can work for us or against us, and we have the power to create good habits for ourselves. We hope that during the past 12 weeks, you’ve begun creating a habit of emergency preparedness. You’ve been taught to make a plan, get a kit, strap your water heater and store food and water. Some of those are single actions, others need reviewing and revision, especially after the Great Utah ShakeOut.

The ShakeOut, the state’s largest earthquake drill ever, now with 815,000 participants, is practice so that you’ll know what you would be lacking in an actual earthquake. Join us on April 17 at 10:15 a.m. by signing up at ShakeOut.org/Utah. And if you can’t do it at that time, do a drill later in the day and see what you learn.We’re totally cool with that. We’re looking to make the ShakeOut an annual event, because we want to create a habit of preparedness in the Beehive State.

One way you can prepare is to begin thinking about the types of locations you frequent. During a week you might visit a store, school, mall, work and church, use mass transit, travel by car, see a movie or see a sporting event.

You never know where you’ll be when a disaster strikes. The time is now to create a habit of planning for what you’ll do and what supplies you might need when you’re at a location other than home. Here are some things each member of your family should think about:

  • How you will get local alert or warnings while you are there.
  • Building occupant evacuation plans, including alternate exits.
  • Building or organization plans for sheltering occupants in an emergency.
  • Key supplies you/household members and others would need for temporary sheltering.
This doesn’t mean you need to be afraid to leave your home, but if you create a habit of awareness, you’ll be more likely to respond appropriately in an emergency. Begin noticing automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) and the location of fire alarms and emergency exits when you go out.

The habit of preparedness will help you to be safe wherever you are.

Joe Dougherty is a preparedness expert and the spokesman for the Utah Division of Emergency Management and Be Ready Utah. Send your preparedness tips to jdougherty@utah.gov. Daily preparedness tips available at twitter.com/bereadyutah.

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