Thursday, April 1, 2010



Well, our son is taking an EMS course at the local High School, and seems to really enjoy the "hands on" aspect of it.  He talked with his Dad and I about doing a "CERT" course together, and since it was his suggestion, we jumped at the chance to do this with him.  The course costs $35.00 and we received not only a manual, but a vest, hard hat, protective glasses, gloves, a mask, and a backpack. We have attended 2 out of the 4 scheduled classes which have run from 6:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m.  

CERT stands for "Community Emergency Response Team" which was reportedly developed in the mid 80's in Los Angeles. L.A. "recognized that citizens would very likely be on their own during the early stages of a catastrophic disaster. Accordingly, LAFD decided that some basic training in disaster survival and rescue skills would improve the ability of citizens to survive until responders or other assistance could arrive". (CERT Training Manual, pg 1).

I thought I would share some of the information that we all should know, which deals with Disaster Preparedness.

Utility Shutoffs: Do you know where your Gas or Water shut-off valves are? To you know how to turn off your Electricity? Do you have a wrench handy that can shut off the Gas? We have been instructed to: 1. Turn off all individual breakers (or unscrew fuses). Step 2 is to shut off the main circuit. The water shutoff indicates a clockwise turn of the valve to shut off and a counter-clockwise to turn it on. The gas meter shut-off is located on the pipe that comes out of the ground (usually around your meter). To turn off the valve, use a wrench to turn the valve clockwise one-quarter turn. Consider attaching a wrench to the meter so that it is readily available. There are several places to purchase one and they are inexpensive. Do you remember that the home that recently exploded by the Purple Turtle in PG? It was from a Gas leak!

Flexible Pipe:  Consider installing flexible pipe fittings to avoid gas or water leaks because of Earthquakes and Landslides.

Escape Plan: Develop an escape plan with your family and a designated location to meet. Practice the plan so that it is second nature to your family members. Do the same in your workplace.

72-hour kits: Really, these aren't just nice to have around....they are necessary. One of the instructors taught us that the average time that most people are without services etc is not 72 hours but often 10 days to 3 weeks. So, for sure get your family prepared with at least this 3 day supply.

Out of State Phone Contact: Designate someone who lives out of state that you will contact and let them know how you are in case of an emergency. It is then the "Contacts" job to notify other family and friends and inform them of your well-being.

Tanks: If you have a "tank" in your home (i.e. water heater, propane, etc), they need to be secured with straps so that they do not fall down on any one and do not leak. You also do not want an explosion.

Fire Extinguisher: You need to have an ABC type in your home and everyone should know how to use it (sounds like a fun Family Home Evening activity to me).

Combustibles: Store chemicals etc away from combustible sources. For example, do not store boxes or chemicals in the room with your furnace.

Electrical Circuits: Avoiding over-loading circuits with lots of extension cords etc.

First Aid: Have a First Aid kit and know how to use it. Attend a local class to learn CPR and other emergency skills.

Sanitation: Decide how you will keep your "area" clean and how you will dispose of waste, particularly human waste so that disease etc does not compound the situation.

CERT team members are your neighbors who will help you are in times of an emergency. Each neighborhood should have several members to adequately serve. In times of Emergency, the City and State responders will be overwhelmed immediately. The first few hours are the most critical in an Emergency. If we are trained and organized locally, the chance of survival and well being of our neighborhoods greatly increases until Emergency Personnel can reach us.

Did you know that the local hospitals can only take 2 critical patients in the ER at a time? Yes, they have more booths, but Critical patients require specialized personel and concentrated care. If you were successful in getting someone to the hospital following a disaster, chances are you would wait a long time. If you had the training to do some care in the "field", many people could reportedly be stabilized until the local authorities could arrive.

Soooooo, if I can work until 6:00 p.m. and still do this.....maybe you could to.

Consider getting the training. Most cities offer it and would love to have you come.

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