A friend of mine sent this e-mail to me with the added note, “I’m going to re-evaluate my emergency supplies!” I don’t know the person, who originally sent this e-mail, or who it was originally sent to, but the information shared is very good and shares the practical application of why I encourage everyone to be prepared.
I have added additional comments in [italics] and have also bolded some thoughts that I found important enough to highlight. I hope that you will read this e-mail and feel the initial fear and then the calm confidence afterwards that comes with being prepared.
We’re doing “fine” here, considering what is going on around us. When the first big quake hit, around 2:45 in the afternoon on Friday, I ran to *****’s room and grabbed him out of his crib. We’ve had plenty of earthquakes in the 2.5 years we’ve been here, but this one was huge. ***** started crying and calling for me –I got him, too, and we huddled on the stairs away from windows and light fixtures.
The two boys were walking home from school and came in while the house was still shaking. They thought it was exciting. I yelled at them to “GET BACK OUTSIDE!” because I’d just been told if you’re outside, you’re supposed to stay outside! I sat on the stairs praying: “Please protect my kids, please protect my kids, please protect my kids…” It seemed to last forever (around 5 minutes I’ve heard) and then the aftershocks just kept coming and coming. They’re still coming. … **** was able to come home around 4. [I can’t tell you what a relief it was to have my whole entire family safe and together. …
Since then, the power has been out and we haven’t had any heat or access to phones (to the states) or Internet… Friday evening we moved our friends in with us … since they just shipped all of their stuff to the states in preparation for their move in two weeks. It’s been nice to have them around because everyone is on edge and extremely stressed. [A family plan is very important here – read article #76. What should we do during a disaster and then afterwards?]
Yesterday (Saturday) they opened the commissary (no lights, cash only) and we grabbed some extra food, water and diapers. Since we have the standard Mormon “food storage” I wasn’t too worried about running out of food or water [It is nice not to have to worry about feeding your family when you have other things to worry about], but I didn’t have any spare diapers so was happy to buy three big boxes yesterday for ***** [Families with small children might want to consider having some back-up cloth diapers, just in case.]. (And yes, I bought two big cans of hot chocolate. Priorities, people!) [Remember comfort food is exactly that – comfort]
We went to church for a shortened meeting to take the sacrament and get the news today. All members of the branch have been accounted for and we’ve heard that all the missionaries in Japan are accounted for also. (Big relief.) The power is now back on off-base which is how I have Internet access right now. We’re at ***** house. Hopefully it stays on. We were asked at church to see what extra coats, blankets, food and water we can round up to donate to the Japanese people nearby [It is nice to know that not only can you take care of your family by being prepared, but you might be able to help others in need around you].
I feel heartsick thinking of those who’ve lost homes and loved ones…The earthquakes (aftershocks) haven’t stopped and I spent all night last night having nightmares about running from collapsing and buckling buildings. The kids are on edge and tantrums are at an all time high [It is important that you pack something in your 72-hr. kits that can help distract kids AND adults to take the edge off of the problems at hand]. They keep busy playing during the day, but when it gets dark and we have to ration flashlights and candles it gets extra hard to keep the peace. A few things I’ve been wanting to tell people and note for the future:
*Get an old school, corded phone. If the power goes out, your cordless won’t work [I know that a lot of people are dropping their home phones and going exclusively with cell phones, but a basic landline with no frills is only $13.00. I’m just saying…]. We were lucky to have a corded phone upstairs which helped ***** coordinate with the Branch President to get accountability of church members….
*Speaking of accountability, in an emergency, if you’re going to leave your house–leave a note on the door saying where you are going so when guys from church or work coming looking, they’ll know where you are. [Read article #4: Emergency Signal Kit. Not only is it common courtesy to let others know where you are, but during an emergency it is vital to share this information.]
*When the power went out, people off base couldn’t get their cars out of their garages. Turns out there is a special crank to use but most of our friends didn’t have it or know what it was. [What else have you not thought about that might have special needs? You might want to turn your power off and go around your house and check out what accommodations need to be made.]
*We’ve been cooking with our camping equipment. Note to self: Buy a 20 pack of small propane tanks. We’ve also used our outdoor BBQ (in the cold) and I’m wishing I had a spare tank of Propane for that. (We still don’t have power and don’t know when it will come back on on Base. Estimates have said 24 hours (we’re way past that) to 1 week, to indefinite.) [Remember: 72-hrs is just a random number. Generally real help will be weeks, or sometimes even months out.]
*Do you have an extra refill of your prescriptions in your 72 hour kit? [The 72-hr kit lists are just starter lists; you must look at your needs and then prepare for any contingency. Only you can determine what that means. Build YOUR kits with YOUR family’s needs in mind.] It’s terrifying to imagine running out of the things you take every day. Also, the thought of my kids getting sick and not having enough children’s Advil and/or Tylenol made me pretty nervous until I verified we had some of each.
*For ONCE I was glad to be doing Dave Ramsey yesterday when we had plenty of cash on hand to shop at the commissary. But we also have a cash and yen emergency fund hidden in the house for back-up which was very comforting. [No electricity, remember? ATM’s not only will not work, but they won’t be replenished with cash when they run out. Grocery stores can’t run debit cards or credit cards and if you are buying from and individual you can pretty much bet they won’t accept a check. Have an emergency cash reserve of small denominations at your house.]
*While I’m making notes to myself: Buy a hand crank wheat grinder and blender! [If you are storing food that needs to be prepared, make sure that you have the tools to prepare it with, e.g. hand grinders, hand operated can openers, etc.] (We have a freezer full of frozen fruit to make smoothies but no way to blend anything.) [Make sure that you have a back-up power supply for freezers, fridges and medical equipment.]
*Flashlights are a pain in my butt. All of our stupid Rayovac crappy-**** batteries that I had stored for an emergency, LEAKED! [Rotate, rotate, ROTATE! This includes non-food items also. There aren’t many things that last forever, so always rotate your supply of – whatever!] So the flashlights are all slowly dying, being over-used by the children, and being misplaced. The best source of light the last two nights has been the pillar candles I’ve had in the cupboard for fancy table settings. They seem to burn pretty slow and shed a lot of light. I’ve gone through 3 and have 1 left. Wish I had a 20 pack of those in my 72 hour pack. It would be nice not to worry about running out. Small, light weight, energy efficient lanterns would be nice too. [Another thing you might also want to consider is that just because someone is selling candles, lanterns, or other items claiming that they last a long time, you really want to test them out to see what they are “really made of”. Find out what works best. I had the same experience – my “fancy” candles outlasted my “emergency” candles. Check your supplies.]
*Also, my next house will have a wood burning fireplace. This all would have been much easier if we could have been warm. *Also, I’m buying all my kids a down comforter. We have one on our bed and we’ve been fine at night, but the kids need 20 blankets piled up to stay warm…. [I lived in a house once that didn’t have fireplace in it and that will NEVER happen again. The wood burning stove I have now works beautifully for heating my house and cooking my food (I know because I experimented with it).]
A few more random thoughts:
*The last two days this thought kept running through my head “All are safely gathered in.”… [During a disaster it is always nice and very helpful to keep things in perspective] *We were very blessed on base to have running (freezing cold) water. Off base, sewer lines broke and contaminated the water supply they weren’t even supposed to touch it. [Again with the water – please get it stored!] *Today we sang “I Need Thee Every Hour” at church. Has a lot of meaning right now….
Please pray for us (us being everyone in Japan) and if you feel so inclined, find a way to send some warm blankets to people who’ve lost their homes. Don’t know when I’ll be back on-line again.”
My heart goes out to all of those people that are experiencing serious catastrophes, not only in Japan – who had another 6.5 earthquake and smaller tsunami yesterday, but in several locations around the world. My hope is that when, not if, but when we experience a disaster in our area that we will have all heeded the advice of our leaders and gotten ourselves and our families prepared. Remember to get your under-the-bed kits (article # 3) ready in case of an earthquake at night; they don’t always just happen during the daytime. And can I say get your water stored enough times that you will actually do it?
Please, get you water stored!