Make Water Part of your Earthquake Preparedness Plan

Earthquakes are a reality for over 39 million residents living in California. While the state is known for its beautiful beaches, glamorous Hollywood scene and nature, it’s difficult to think about California and not make the connection with earthquakes. With the recent quakes, many Californians are reminded of this eminent reality, but are they prepared?

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The Southern Earthquake Center developed the Community Fault Model database and has documented over 140 faults considered capable of producing moderate to large earthquakes in the state. In fact, Southern California’s recent string of earthquakes has kickstarted conversations surrounding preparedness for the next “big one.”

In the case of an earthquake, your water agency will provide you with the necessary information regarding the safety of the water that you receive at your home. It’s important to heed warnings from them and follow safety information provided. During an earthquake, infrastructure can be damaged, which can create a disruption in service or possible contamination.

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According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), there are three main phases to prepare for a disaster such as a moderate or large earthquake which include:

Step One: Protecting yourself before an earthquake

Step Two: Protecting yourself during an earthquake

Step Three: Protecting yourself after an earthquake

FEMA elaborates on what it takes to protect yourself before an earthquake. Although no one wants to imagine a scenario where an earthquake causes a disaster scenario, it is best to be prepared for yourself, your family and pets. Assembling an emergency kit is crucial for earthquake preparedness and should first and foremost include water. FEMA states that you should “Ensure you have at least 1 gallon of water per person per day for at least 3 days. (Store a longer than 3-day supply of water, if possible). An average person needs to drink about 3/4 of a gallon of fluid daily. Individual needs vary depending on age, gender, health, level of activity, food choices, and climate. You may also need stored water for food preparation.” Essentially, make sure you have enough stored water readily accessible and saved only for emergencies that is sufficient to cover your household’s most basic needs.

Moreover, the Centers for Disease Control established guidelines to follow regarding best practices for safe tap water usage after a natural disaster, such as a large earthquake. Under Things you should do, the CDC lists the following after an earthquake:

  • Listen for announcements from local officials to find out what to do. They will tell you if there are bacteria and/or chemicals in the water.
  • Boil water, if instructed. Boil it for at least 1 minute (start counting when the water comes to a constant boil). Let the water cool sufficiently before drinking. Boiling kills germs in the water.
  • Use bottled water, if instructed. Sometimes after a disaster, there may be chemicals in the water that boiling cannot remove.
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Public utility agencies understand the threat that earthquakes pose to water supplies and work diligently to have emergency plans in place. Be sure to have a personal plan in place for your household too, and make sure that water is a top priority.