Just a few weeks ago on Dec. 30, while many were still recovering from Christmas or thinking ahead to the beginning of 2011, a 3.8 magnitude earthquake hit approximately 50 miles north-northeast of Indianapolis. Even though area TV stations reported that it could be felt in our area, I didn't actually feel the quake like I did the one that was centered in Southern Illinois about a year ago.
Fortunately for most of us, the worst effect we noticed from either of these earthquakes was that our usual morning programs were interrupted for several hours while the news people talked almost non-stop about the quake. Fortunately, neither of these earthquakes caused any injury or major damage. They were however, reminders to us that we live near a major fault line that scientists believe has the potential to cause a major quake at any time. In fact scientists and others in the disaster business will observe the 200th anniversary of the last great seismic event in the New Madrid Zone in 2011.
The best part of hearing about minor earthquakes in or near our state is that it can be a gentle reminder to us that we do live in an area where a large earthquake is believed to be a possibility.
Even though we are reminded periodically about potential quakes from the New Madrid or the Wabash Fault, which is closer, preparing for an earthquake is probably pretty far down on the list of things you worry about day to day. There are several other disasters which are more likely to occur such as ice and snowstorms in the winter or tornadoes in the spring or floods or fires any time of year.
The good news is that many of the things we can do to be better prepared for an earthquake will help us out during most kinds of disasters. Here are four steps that you can do to be better prepared for an emergency in the coming year:
* Be Informed -- Learn about the different types of emergencies, including earthquakes, which could happen where you live. Knowing the appropriate ways to respond to them will impact the decisions you make and the actions you take. In addition, you should learn about the emergency plans that have been established in your area by your state and local government. One of the best resources to use when learning about different disasters is FEMA's Are You Ready: http://www.fema.gov/areyouready/ "The most common disasters Hoosiers should consider are floods, storms and tornadoes, snow and ice storms, and hazardous materials incidents," according to Steve Cain, Purdue Extension specialist and President of the Indiana Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster.
* Get a Kit -- People should plan to take care of themselves for the first hours or days after a disaster occurs. Emergency response personnel will be busy trying to save lives and return the infrastructure to normal.
"By being prepared to take care of yourself, including food, water, and other necessities, you'll contribute to making your entire community better prepared for a disaster," Cain says. "Look around your community, if someone you know doesn't have the resources to make a kit, help them. That's a second big step toward making you and your community better prepared for a disaster."
It is recommended that your kit be prepared to last you through the first 72 hours. Some great resources on making a kit are available from the Extension Disaster Education Network at http://eden.lsu.edu/Resources/NPM/Pages/...
* Make a Plan -- Plans save lives and money and reduce stress and grief. There are several aspects of plans. They include: post disaster communication, evacuation or sheltering in place. "Just the process of going through a plan and reviewing it once or twice per year, will improve your well being should a major emergency happen around you," says Cain. EDEN also has great resources on making a plan at http://eden.lsu.edu/Resources/NPM/Pages/...
* Get Involved -- Volunteers make a huge difference in how the United States prepares for and recovers from a disaster. Volunteering can be as simple as knowing what to do in a disaster at home or in your workplace so you can help others. Volunteering can be as involved as stepping up with a volunteer organization such as Red Cross or working with Salvation Army or another faith-based organization aimed at helping others in a disaster. To learn more about disaster volunteer groups visit the Indiana VOAD site at http://invoad.com/ and click on Members.
Many people like to start the New Year off by making resolutions or thinking about things they could or should be doing better. Often these resolutions focus on finances, physical activity or eating better. All of these are fine things to work on but if you've already mastered those issues or want to work on something different this year, think about getting better prepared in the event of an emergency. Be informed, get a kit, make a plan and get involved.
Check our website www.extension.purdue.edu/putnam to view the most up to date info. You can contact the local Purdue Extension Office by calling 653.8411 for more information regarding column topics or to RSVP for upcoming events. It is always best to call first to assure items are ready when you arrive and to RSVP for programs. While many publications are free, some do have a fee.
Jan. 26 -- Monical's Pizza 4-H Fundraiser
Feb. 3 -- Extension Homemakers Council Meeting 11:30 a.m. at Courthouse Annex
Feb. 7 -- E. H. Leader Lesson " Healthy Women -- Living Well" 1 p.m. at the Extension Office
Feb. 19 -- Putnam 4-H Beef Weigh-in, Fairgrounds