SF Apartment : August 2016
Stock Up For Shake Ups
by Daniella Cohen
Preparing for an emergency can feel overwhelming. Most of us fall into the I’ve really been meaning to do that camp. Eventually, we add preparedness to our to-do lists, but for some reason it never seems to make it to the top of that list. Property owners, whether personal residence or rental property, know firsthand how big of a job property management can be, and tackling preparedness amid all of the ongoing, everyday responsibilities may seem like too much, but the Department of Emergency Management wants property owners and their tenants to know how simple it actually can be to get prepared for an emergency. In fact, most people are already more prepared than they realize!
Many everyday connections and household items will help during an emergency: neighbors become lifelines and general knowledge can provide clarity and solutions to the problems that will arise. Easily prevent certain earthquake damage by strapping and securing bookcases and adhering mirrors and glass-framed pictures sturdily to walls. Landlords should also share this information with their tenants so they also know how to prepare their homes.
The trick is to think about preparedness as a part of everyday life, so when the real thing happens, you’ll know what to do before, during, and after just about any type of possible emergency.
In the aftermath of disaster, history has proven that communities more often come together rather than fall apart. Get to know your neighbors, be friendly to the regulars at the local market, and stay in touch with family and friends—both digitally and in person. Property owners should know how many units are in their buildings and on each floor. Where is the property located? What is the demographic of people who live on the block? Are they mostly senior citizens, or young families with small children? Do any neighbors live with functional needs or disabilities?
The point of asking these questions is to become familiar with your neighbors, because in the case of an emergency, one of the first things we advise people to do is check on their neighbors. You might be the first person to walk through your neighbor’s door, long before any first responders.
Emergency preparedness is about connecting with your community in order to support each other when everyday resources are no longer available. Our rule of thumb is to have enough supplies for you and your loved ones for 72 hours or a long weekend.
Consider taking the San Francisco Fire Department’s Neighborhood Response Team Training (NERT), which teaches emergency preparedness and response basics through free hands-on training so you are ready to take care of yourself and others. To learn more, visit: http://sf-fire.org/neighborhood-emergency-response-team-NERT.
Another way to stay connected is to learn how to receive emergency warnings, alerts, and notifications. During an actual emergency, the Department of Emergency Management will issue emergency information through a variety of mechanisms. We recommend that you register for AlertSF, the City’s text and email messaging system. Go to www.alertsf.org to register, or text the word AlertSF to 888-777.
Learn which of your local radio stations report on news frequently (San Francisco: 740 AM, 810 AM, 740 AM, 106.9 FM). The same goes for local television stations. If you’re a social media user, tune in to our social media channels for updates and information: you can find us on Twitter @SF_Emergency or @SF72org. Visit our website, www.sf72.org, which not only offers emergency preparedness information, but also CityNow: a real-time Google map that will convey key information related to the emergency, like shelter locations.
Have a Solid Plan in Place
A solid emergency plan can take as little as five minutes to assemble, but it will be a lasting benefit to your household, and even community, during an actual emergency. Do you have children or pets? Is your extended family local or out of state? These are some of the things we recommend to start thinking about. For instance, if you have a family of four with two kids and a few pets at home, determine a meeting spot where your family members can meet in case an emergency occurs when the adults are at work and the children at school. At which point would you check in on your pets?
Another thing to consider is that it might be difficult to communicate with other family members in the area due to internet or phone connectivity problems. For this reason, assign an out-of-area contact for each local family member to call with status updates.
Go to www.sf72.org/plan to download and print our “Make a Plan” worksheet. Fill it out and learn it and feel confident that your family, friends, and neighbors will know what to do and where to go, just in case.
Stock Up on Supplies
Often, people find this the most intimidating part of getting prepared, but it’s actually the easiest step! A good rule of thumb is to have supplies for about three days, or 72 hours. You’ll be surprised at how much you already have on hand. Take stock of your pantry and add to it incrementally. We recommend stocking up on food items with a long shelf life, such as canned foods and nut butters. Remember to periodically check for expiration dates and update supplies as needed.
Other items we recommend having in your emergency kit are items that would keep you safe and secure in cases of prolonged power outage or damage to water pipes, such as flashlights, batteries, first aid kits, and water. Store one gallon of water per person per day for 72 hours and remember to replace your stored water every six months. (Don’t forget about your pets! They’ll need food and water, too.) Also, set aside some cash (in small bills) because electronic transactions may be unavailable.
And don’t forget about the fun stuff! Who knows how long you might be out of your normal routine, so consider games, like playing cards, and other comfort items such as chocolate (or even a bottle of wine!) in your emergency supplies cache.
As residents of San Francisco, we know we live in earthquake country, but what we don’t know is that we are more prepared than we think! Remember to think about preparedness as a part of everyday life, so when the real thing happens, you’ll know what to do. Please visit www.sf72.org to learn more.
SF72 Preparedness Manifesto:
San Francisco is pretty different. Some might even say its 7x7 miles of contradictions. San Francisco is the fog, the farmers market, the costume box in every closet. It’s the five-dollar cup of coffee next to the one-dollar taco. It’s where optimism meets work ethic. It’s the nudists and the startups, the hippies, the idealists, the lifers, the transplants. This city might be the only thing we all have in common. This is our city. By being here we’ve all embraced a way of life that’s about being on the edge of social change, technology, even nature. After all, the ocean, the hills, and the fault lines are San Francisco, too. So let’s take care of the people and the place that we love. Let’s take stock of our skills and resources. Let’s not wait until a disaster to show how connected we are. Let’s start small and go from there—together.
Daniella Cohen is a Crisis Communications and External Affairs Associate at the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management. Growing up in San Francisco, she has always been ready for a random tremor or two. Her most fond disaster memory was watching her community come together after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.