Zombies and Earthquakes and Fires, Oh My!

How prepared are you?

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Sydney Godwin of Talent poses with her dad, Steve, who was turned into a zombie by special effects artists Leah and Missy Gibson of Rogue FX Creations. Photography by David Gibb.

A longer version of this article was originally published in October 2014.

According to many news reports, we are ever at risk from disaster of one kind or another that could interrupt lief as we know it. From power outages to zombie invasions, how well prepared are you and your family for the challenge of life after a disaster? OK, zombies, really? Probably not, but could you endure without the many conveniences we have become so accustom to?

Learn, plan and prepare

“A lot of people think it’s too scary to think about all this,” says Marcy Young. She and husband, Ben, own Southern Oregon Survival store in Grant Pass. “Most of time we don’t have advance notice with these things, so it’s important to think ahead and have an idea about what you need to do. It can be something as simple as having a solar powered or hand-crank radio—it’s amazing how much difference that can make. But it all starts with awareness. People will be at a loss when the worst happens, and they can’t Google survival techniques.”

There is no one-size-fits-all preparedness plan. “Many people just think about food, water and medical supplies but they don’t realize there are so many other issues to consider,” Young says. “Like how are you going to cook? Or what about sanitation and hygiene, which are both so important. Then there’s transportation in the case of destroyed roadways and bridges. And how do we take care of our animals?”

Here in the Northwest, we are much more likely to endure the consequences of natural disaster like wildfires, floods or severe weather, but more extreme scenarios should be considered. Being prepared for a nuclear attack or pandemic will require a different kind of preparedness than for a devastating power outage or widespread destruction of buildings and highways after an earthquake. But just thinking through some possible scenarios, developing a plan with your family and having several go-bags stashed and ready can make all the difference between pandemonium or knowing how to take positive action.

The Youngs field questions on survival techniques from customers every day. “People get overwhelmed by the whole preparedness idea, but we tell them they can educate themselves for free and make their own choices about what makes the most sense for them.”

Though there are many free planning tools available online to those who wish to learn more, Young says being prepared is more than just buying a few things from the store and thinking you’re done. “We promote learning about being prepared. We want people to educate themselves, not just buy a kit, take it home and stick it in a closet and never think about it again.”

Helpful websites:

http://www.rvem.org/get-ready-rogue.html

https://jacksoncountyor.org/emergency

https://jacksoncountyor.org/emergency/Resources/Citizen-Alert

https://www.co.josephine.or.us/Page.asp?NavID=1858

www.ready.gov

www.fema.gov

Editor’s note: It seemed timely to rerun this story, though many of the details were time specific. At the time, two local places (REI and Coyote Trails School of Nature) were teaching “Surviving a Zombie Apocalypse” camps and classes as a fun way to teach children survival skills. If interested, watch for these type of camps/classes in the summer months. Southern Oregon Survival no longer has a physical store but has gone online.

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Involve children in disaster planning

Experts all agree that entire families, including the kids, need to take an active role in the development of any disaster plan. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) says having children involved in preparing for an emergency makes them “smarter and more resilient,” gives them a greater sense of security, and improves their chances for survival in an otherwise frightening situation. The communications plan should include what action they should take and a list of phone numbers, especially an out-of-town contact they can keep in their school bag or emergency kit.

Knowledge is “power”

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What will you do when the lights go out—and stay out? Though area residents are fortunate that local emergency services have developed a comprehensive emergency response system, there is no substitute for individual preparedness. Jackson County Emergency Preparedness Guide says communication, including a well thought out family plan, is the first of many things to be considered.

They advise preparing a power outage kit to include:

  • Glow light sticks
  • Flashlights
  • A battery-powered radio
  • A corded telephone
  • An alternate heat source.

Have tools handy and know where your utility shut-off valves and circuit breakers are located as gas leaks and damaged electrical equipment can trigger explosions or fires.

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