Disaster readiness kit is an essential item in North Coast homes and businessesSEASIDE - Local business owners are preparing for disaster.

Warren Becker, communication disaster education manager for the Oregon Trail chapter of the American Red Cross, offered recommendations Thursday to the Seaside Downtown Development Association. Much of the presentation, "Preparing Your Business for the Unthinkable," could apply to households as well as the workplace, Becker said.

In light of fears about terrorist attacks and a desire for advice about personal preparations, "our office has been inundated with calls," he said.

But much of what the American Red Cross recommends extends to other emergency situations, he said. "Prepare for terrorism as you would for any other disaster - the ramifications are just about the same."

On The WebAdditional information is available at www.redcross-pdx.org and www.PrepareForLife.orgHe recommended identifying in advance an off-site place to which people can report in the event of an emergency, and developing written emergency plans to address hazards. Business owners also should try to identify how and when a safety inspection will be conducted after a disaster, and how to expediently contact the landlord if they happen to lease their property, he said.

"After a major disaster, 40 percent of businesses never reopen," he said. Business owners can mitigate hardships by making employees aware of what they need to do in the event of - and after - an emergency.

Although emergency agencies are prepared to assist, people should do as much as they can to be ready on their own, Becker said. He showed an example of a disaster supply kit, which he encouraged all residents and business owners to assemble.

Among the components should be duct tape and plastic sheeting, he said. These materials can be used to help seal a room in a household in the event of a chemical spill or other situations when emergency responders recommend people to "shelter in place."

People should not use empty milk jug containers for their emergency three-gallon water supply because residual bacteria can embedded in the plastic, Becker noted. Other kit contents should include high-protein foods, flashlights or glow-sticks instead of candles, a first aid kit, a wrench to turn off utilities, and a radio that is battery-operated because electrical power may be out.

He also held up a manual can opener. "We have anecdotal evidence that many teenagers today don't know what this is," he quipped.

Becker also discussed the importance of the "drop, cover and hold" rule-of-thumb in the event of an earthquake.

The North Coast and particularly Cannon Beach has a good alarm system for tsunamis - a series of fast, potentially devastating waves usually caused by underwater earthquakes, Becker said. A tsunami generated by an earthquake at the subduction zone off the Oregon Coast could hit shore in five minutes, he said.

The general recommendation for tsunami evacuation is to move upward and inland, preferably by foot, he said. Tsunami damage is likely to make travel by car impractical and treacherous.

Becker distributed American Red Cross information packets encouraging people to:

• Talk with family members and employees about disasters, both natural and man-made, that could happen in the Pacific Northwest;

• Train in using a fire extinguisher, shutting off utility valves, and knowing proper evacuation procedures. Ideally, at least one family member should be trained in first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation, he said;

• Take stock of supplies on hand, and assemble a disaster supplies kit;

• Tell everyone in the household about out-of-state emergency contact information, and periodically update the information;

• Test readiness on a regular basis by having fire and earthquake drills, reviewing evacuation plans, rotating contents of supply kits and checking smoke detectors.

Concluding, Becker summed up his presentation in three words: "Take care - prepare."


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