Full Rip

Warning to the husband: don’t read this post!

Though, really, it’s his fault. A couple nights ago he brought me home a book he’d found. Since I just wrote about an earthquake, he thought I’d find it interesting. But as he handed me the book he made a qualifying statement before releasing his grip. I wasn’t to share anything I read. He didn’t want to hear it. So since I can’t talk to him, I’ll share with you.

The book is called Full Rip 9.0 and is written by Sandi Doughton, a science writer for the Seattle Times. It was written in 2013 so a few things are outdated such as comments on the Alaska Way Viaduct in Seattle. But the writing style is easy and informative, and the science fascinating. It talks about how the science of earthquakes has evolved, and how recent such science actually is.

I hadn’t realized that it wasn’t until the 1980s that people started seriously researching the oral history of Native Americans and First Nations people along the western coast about the major earthquake of 1700. Until then, most of those stories were unknown to the wider audience and few outside the tribal historians knew the quake even happened.

I mean, geez, the 1980s were just yesterday. Weren’t they?

Lisa with Vega Holly's wedding

1980s glasses and a VERY stylish Vega. 

Of course, as always, reading such books makes me want to rush out to Costco and stock up. Until I think of the Costco parking lot on a typical Saturday and those few exits, and if the quake hit, how would all those cars get out? Look how they block up all the lanes just so they can grab a parking spot by the door. Think what they’d do if panicked.

Yep, you can drive yourself crazy thinking too much about this kind of stuff. As I always say, there’s a fine line between being prepared and being paranoid.

While reading the book, I have to keep pulling myself back over the line to the ‘being prepared’ side. I find myself leaning toward the paranoid side. Just a little. As in, I wonder how long it would take my husband to dig an old fashioned root cellar for all the canned goods?

(Just kidding in case he actually did read this post.)

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Our ‘back yard’

I’m not as prepared as I would like to be. But I am somewhat prepared. Are you? Especially those of you who live in cities and depend on that city to provide water and sewer and electricity and heat.

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Don’t be paranoid. Don’t drive yourself crazy thinking about all the what-if’s and letting your imagination sink to the dark scary thoughts. Instead, look for the simple, basic things you can do that might help make you a little safer if something does happen.

And we’re not talking just earthquakes here. Not even natural disasters in general. How many of you have been stuck in your car on the highway because all lanes have been shut down for a fatality and nothing will be moving for hours? In winter, wouldn’t it be nice to have a blanket, even if it’s an old smelly dog blanket from the floor of the back seat? Wouldn’t it be nice to have a flashlight if you get a flat tire at night?

I know, I know. I can hear some of you now thinking ‘I’ll use my cell phone and then just sit safely in the car until AAA gets there and changes the tire for me’.

Sure, you can do that.

As long as you have cell service or wifi where you are. Do you want to gamble that the place you get the flat tire is in an area with coverage? Or do you want to just toss a flashlight in your glovebox?

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The husband is prepared for medicinal emergencies

There are whole books written on bug-out bags. Seriously. Look them up. How involved the pack is depends on your circumstances. If you work a block from your house you’re not going to need something as substantial as say, me, who has forests, rivers, and bridges between me and home. Not to mention mountains that might release some slides.

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And don’t get me started on our floods…

Bug-out bags aren’t just for cars, either. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to make a small one that hangs by each door, or by your bed. If your house catches on fire, such a bag might mean the difference between greeting firefighters in clothes or in your skin. (I’m flashing here on a call from my firefighting days when a certain person was pelting down the street in white underpants and nothing else.)

Or, the difference between a small escape bag by your door and digging through ash hoping your car keys survived, or your identification. Think of all the things you won’t be able to do without some proof of who you are.

Dad 1990 flood

Okay, I’m starting that lean over into the paranoid side.

Let’s pull back a little. Think about basics.

Fix your hot water tank to the wall. Put your fire safe with valuables against an exterior wall, not an interior wall (inner walls burn hotter and longer). Have an extra copy of your glasses prescription some place like a bug-out bag. Keep an extra dog leash handy, or a pet carrier. Make a safe check-in point for all family members.

Don’t be paranoid. Just be smart.

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Hanging tent poles from your backpack wasn’t exactly the smartest…we did warn him.

And man, don’t read that Full Rip book unless you want to have your brain flooded with these kinds of thoughts late at night. I’m almost done and when I am, no more earthquake stories. I think I’ll pull out my old Borrowers series by Mary Norton that I’ve had since childhood.

Then all I’ll have to worry about late at night is if the evil Hendreary is going to catch Pod and Homily.

Of course, they would have benefited from a bug-out bag when those floorboards were lifted up.

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Walking home

Earthquakes

We had a small earthquake this morning. I slept through it.

Coincidentally enough, I’m releasing a new book that deals with a major earthquake. I felt, momentarily, as if Mother Nature was either giving me a little free publicity, or giving me a little shake, saying ‘don’t do it!’.

THIS DEEP PANIC ebook

I did it anyway. E-book now available for Kindle; print coming soon.

But events like this always bring to mind preparedness and balancing the need to be prepared with being paranoid.

We choose to be prepared but are far from paranoid. We have bug-out bags in our cars. We have jugs of water in our freezer. Think about it – a jug of ice can be put in your fridge to help keep things cold when the power goes out. And when it thaws you have drinking water. We also have little bags hanging by our doors that have the basics inside so you can grab them as you run out the door and at least have a flashlight.

Mt Baring

The granite here doesn’t roll like ‘down below’. It slams around instead.

Of course a couple weeks ago we realized every single flashlight in our house and our vehicles had dead batteries. Having flashlights is being prepared. Having dead batteries is us not being paranoid.

I like a stocked up pantry, a full freezer, and shelves filled with home-canned goods. That’s being prepared.

We’ll be able to live on home-canned raspberry jam for years. That’s being not paranoid.

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Old photo of the cabin, but we still have, and use, the lamps. Didn’t keep the cobwebs though.

Earthquakes are like any other natural disaster in that it’s always a gamble. Do you roll the dice believing it will never happen in your lifetime? Do you roll the dice hoping you’ll be prepared but when the quake hits it won’t be that bad? Or do you believe it’s just a matter of time, it’s going to be horrible, and you’re going to need to live without aid for a long time?

I used to create disaster recovery plans for local government. I can tell you most definitely that all that publicity about having food and water for three days is not true. Three days is nothing.

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Natural water sources; the advantage of not living in cities.

A few years ago a bridge on Interstate 5 was damaged and the freeway was closed down. Fixing it, even with emergency assistance, took THREE WEEKS. So if you think help is coming within three days when you live any distance at all from major traffic corridors, you’re going to lose that roll of the dice.

I don’t want to be paranoid, to think about these things, or lay awake at night because of fear. But when these little tremors rattle you a bit, it’s time to pause and ask if you still believe that a natural disaster won’t happen in your lifetime.

After the tremor this morning I also have a new worry. My son asked if we felt it and said his apartment building was rolling. Which reminded me he lives over an hour away in cheaply built apartment buildings, and we wouldn’t be able to get to him in a hurry.

And I’m willing to roll the dice that he has dead batteries in the bug-out bag we gave him for Christmas a few years ago. He’s prepared like his parents.

But not paranoid.

Arthur Lookout Pt 4

 

Birds and Other Apocalypse Tales

Remember Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds? I believe I was about nine when I saw it. Afterwards I decided I could keep my siblings alive in our half-bathroom. There were no windows, I could stuff towels under the door, we’d have water to drink, and most important of all, a toilet. Of course the five of us would have had to stand in the cramped space the whole time. I believe I pictured myself, as the one who saved their lives, getting to sit on the throne.

Birds from Wikicommons

Birds from Wikicommons

Then there was the nuclear bomb. Or the atomic bomb. I don’t remember which. Either way, I was going to make the siblings crawl under the house because for some reason I thought we’d be safe there. An alternate plan was to get to my friend’s house. They had a real bomb shelter, stocked with canned goods. No can opener though, as they discovered years later when dismantling the shelter.

Next came volcanoes. Anyone remember being shown, in school, a film about a Mexican farmer who had a volcano appear in his back yard? I believe I was around twelve for that one. I don’t remember my plan to save the siblings from volcanoes other than an attempt to get my dad to teach me to drive.

From Wikicommons images

From Wikicommons images

Then came the Chernobyl disaster and I was right back to planning for radiation. But by then I was living off grid with my parents – generating our own power, in the woods (hunting possibilities), near a river (water supply) and with an outhouse (remember the importance of the toilet and the birds?). We were set.

wikicommons images

wikicommons images

Each generation has an apocalypse fear. I read a study that said the shape an apocalypse takes for each age is a reflection on the stresses and fears for that generation. Zombies? That we were becoming drones.

So what is it these days that I’m preparing for? Natural disasters. I just read a very sobering article on the upcoming big earthquake for the Pacific Northwest.

But hey, I have a plan. Bug-out bags, stocked pantry, kerosene lanterns and candles, water filters, hunting rifle, and lots of vodka.

I’m still slightly worried about that volcano though. And the giant mutant spider from a Midnight Theater episode. And tornadoes. Man, don’t get me started on tornadoes.

Are you prepared? There’s a fine line between paranoia and preparedness, between nightmares and reality. It never hurts to at least have a blanket, candles, and some water in your car though.

Oops. I took the candles out. They melted.

(Ha, looking at the tags for this post you’d think I was a bit paranoid…)