Prepared!!–Take 2–CA Version

Two years ago, just prior to moving to California, I wrote Prepared!, a column about my move and preparations for the drive across the country with four cats. In that column I spoke of my two mentors of preparedness–my late Aunt Chee, and my professional International Red Cross disaster worker friend, Brigitte. Both Aunt Chee and Brigitte stand tallest in my mind as the Ultra-Paragons of Ultra-Preparedness–but the other night their stature, at least in my mind, was challenged.

Last week I attended my first California Disaster (read EARTHQUAKE) Preparedness meeting. Oh my. If only Aunt Chee and Brigitte could have been there. They certainly would have been pleased with all the preparedness being espoused and advocated to those of us who had braved a stormy night to pile into the warehouse of the local hardware store to learn our certain fates, were we to remain UN-prepared. It was not for the weak of heart.

The guy giving the main talk (a retired big city fire chief who now lives in my little town) had us all believing that the Apocalypse would be a far better thing to attempt to live through than the inevitable Earthquake. In fact, if we follow his instructions on how to prepare for an earthquake, we will also be prepared for the Apocalypse, as well as any tsunami, tornado, or errant typhoon that might happen to blow over from the Pacific.

The only problem is that I’ve now got enough stuff to get and have on hand that I will definitely have to pitch a tent, or build a yurt, to put it all in–which will come in handy when The Big One hits, because we all will be living in tents–or yurts–if we’re lucky enough to be living at all. From what was said, just that will be pretty much hit or miss.

I now have enough books and lists to keep me going for the next lifetime–which I will soon be in if The Big One strikes before I am PREPARED!!. Yikes.

Apparently the retired-fire-chief-turned-disaster-preparedness-specialist has made a second career out of being PREPARED!!, because as he continually pointed out, becoming and then being PREPARED!! is not a one shot deal, but requires constant vigilance, maintenance, and refurbishing/replenishing of the myriad essential disaster supplies.

For example, you have to constantly keep checking to be sure the clothes you have set aside for storage in your own personal disaster depot, continue to fit you–that you haven’t gotten too big for your literal britches. The Weight Watchers people would love this, as basically that’s what they have their members do–keep checking in at a minimum of once a month to ensure that they are still fitting the bill, as well as their britches, of their new lower weight selves. Perhaps Weight Watchers could team with the disaster people to offer extra incentives to both maintaining lost weight, and being PREPARED!!

But then, there are all these other supplies which have to get rotated and moved on out after a certain period of no use. Food–of the canned and freeze dried kind, water–although the former fire chief informed us at by adding a bit of Clorox to stored water, it will keep for up to five years (my question being, what will it do to our insides if we actually ingest it?), medications–which have shelf lives and therefore have to be monitored and routinely replaced, batteries–which apparently go dead on their own if not used, and….well, I have to go check the many lists because I honestly can’t remember, but I know that keeping track of it all is way more than two full time jobs.

At the end of the session there was a drawing for this super-duper American Red Cross emergency AM/FM radio with NOAA. TV-VHF, flashlight, cell phone charger, and a siren!–all with a hand crank power generator. As we’d come in for the meeting, each of us had been given a ticket for the drawing. I almost left before the show was officially over…good thing I didn’t. By staying I was there when my ticket was drawn, and I actually won the thing. First time I’ve ever won anything in a drawing. Now, the real question: is this a sign…or worse, an omen? Ever since winning, I’ve been waiting for the ground to start shaking.

Now I have to decide if I want to sign up for an extended 7-week disaster preparedness course, by the end of which I would be qualified–well almost–to take over for the retired-fire-chief-turned-disaster-preparedness guru. I’m debating. Maybe I should follow my instinct, which tells me that if I take the course, I’ll never need it, but if I don’t, I will. (Kind of the same feeling I had two years ago when my Red Cross friend Brigitte advised me to get a snakebite kit (!) for my drive across the country…which makes me think that one of those should be in the disaster preparedness kit as well–just to ward off any possibility of ever needing it.)

And I’d thought the Southeast, where I moved from two years ago, was the disaster capitol of the US, between the tornadoes and hurricanes, even though I never heard of any disaster preparedness classes being held there.

But now I know the real truth…the disaster capitol is right here in Northern California. A tornado is child’s play compared to an earthquake, or so I learned the other night. Maybe it’s time to move back East (maybe that was the message attached to my winning the emergency radio?)…my spiffy, newly won radio could also work in a hurricane, although I fear it would be of little use in a tornado.

Better go re-stock the snakebite kit, just in case I decide to go–or even if I decide to stay, and wait for The Big One.

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