SALEM — Emergency responders, including members of the Oregon National Guard, need to be ready to respond to emergencies and disasters. That’s why having an emergency plan and supplies is important, knowing you may have to leave your family to help protect the lives and property of others.
For many years, Emergency Management experts recommended being prepared for 72-hours. While that is a good start, it does not reflect the reality of the impacts from a large earthquake and tsunami, which will leave much of our infrastructure, including transportation routes, communications networks, and water and energy services unusable. This threat looms from Northern California to British Columbia because of a subduction zone called Cascadia that will eventually cause a devastating earthquake and tsunami similar to the 2004 Boxing Day subduction zone earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia, and the 2011 Tohoku occurrence in Japan.
The images from those natural disasters are a vivid reminder of what we face, but experts say being prepared can make a difference.
That’s why in 2013, a group of specialists in Oregon began to think about improvements needed for education and outreach, and what it would take for individuals and families to be better prepared for Cascadia and other threats in Oregon. The new recommendation was for individuals and families to be self-sufficient for at least two-weeks, and Oregon’s Office of Emergency Management began to develop an outreach campaign called “2-Weeks Ready.”
Oregon National Guard leadership has recognized the importance of emergency preparedness making it a priority to adopt and share “2-Weeks Ready” with its service members and families, and will be rolling out emergency preparedness training at the unit level.
“We encourage Oregonians to be prepared for a minimum of two-weeks as part of our “2-Weeks Ready” initiative,” said Maj. Gen. Michael Stencel, Adjutant General, Oregon. “When more individuals and families in our organization are prepared, our Soldiers and Airmen can better focus their energy on injured and other vulnerable populations immediately following a disaster.”
So what does being ready for two-weeks mean?
According to Oregon Office of Emergency Management Director Andrew Phelps it means having the ‘skills and the stuff’ to take care of yourself and those in your household for at least two-weeks following an emergency or disaster.
“Learning first aid and CPR can go a long way towards individual and family preparedness, as can ensuring your residence is properly insured, you know where utility shut-offs are located, how to communicate and evacuate, and where to get emergency information.”
He says there is not just one-way to put together two-weeks’ worth of supplies since everyone has individual dietary and medical needs.
“If your family includes children, seniors or pets, you will have additional needs. Everyone’s kit will look different but for a basic starting point, you can visit our “2-Weeks Ready” page. This page suggests activities or items to include in your preparedness kit. You probably have many “2-Weeks Ready” items around the house and may be more prepared than you think! Being prepared to be self-sufficient for two-weeks is an achievable goal. Many of the standard preparedness kit items such as flashlights, gloves, hand-crank radios, trash bags and a first-aid kit are already in a 72-hour kit if you have one.”
Brig. Gen. Gregory Day who has been an advocate of the initiative says “2-Weeks Ready” presentations are scheduled to be given to all Oregon National Guard members to encourage them to think and talk about emergency preparedness.
“It is a good idea to have meaningful conversations with members of your household about things like backup transportation, who will take care of kids and elderly in your family if you are unable to, what resources you have in your neighborhood, determining an out of state contact, and other things that will help better prepare you,” said Day. “It also important to make sure your family has enough food and water for at least two-weeks, it is the foundation of your emergency supplies.”
Emergency management planners say that until the Cascadia earthquake and tsunami happens we don’t know exactly how our infrastructure and our environment are going to respond, and that it’s important to heed warnings that we need to get prepared. Using available science and forecasts, and looking at how we prepare can help the Oregon National Guard build a culture of preparedness, according to Stencel.
To learn more about the risk where you live go to https://www.opb.org/aftershock-story/, and for more information on how to get 2-Weeks Ready go to https://www.oregon.gov/OEM/hazardsprep/Pages/2-Weeks-Ready.aspx.