He's like that favorite teacher you had in school. You know. The one where you couldn't wait for class. Gunnar Kuepper teaches disaster preparedness yet his personality is in sharp contrast with the topic at hand.
He's from Europe, has an admitted funny accent, and an even funnier personality. I heard him speak at a Red Cross breakfast and was never so mesmerized and excited about being quake ready. On the eve of "The Great California ShakeOut" we decided to once again check in with Kuepper. The ShakeOut is a statewide disaster drill uniting millions of Californians with the motto and moves: "Drop, Cover and Hold On." www.ShakeOut.org
Over the past year, Fox 11 has done a series of quick and informational stories on earthquake preparedness. My goal was to make it easy for YOU to think about having some supplies in the event of a disaster. Being that we live in QUAKE COUNTRY that concept is a reality. Pasadena's Cal-tech and Dr. Lucy Jones remind us we are overdue for "The Big One." If you have a quake kit, YAY! If you don't, let's get started! If you think you'll never need it then talk to my co-anchor Carlos Amezcua who was displaced from his home after the Northridge Quake for TWO WEEKS!
FACT: California experiences earthquakes as large as the 1994 Northridge or 1989 Loma Prieta quakes (or larger) twice each decade, on average. www.earthquakecountry.org
In this story we take a look at just a few key items inside one of those disaster kits you can buy at the store or order on the web. (More quake tips are included in other stories on our website.) Does your kit have the following? And if you don't have a kit do you have these items on hand?
One idea from the Red Cross is to go out and buy a big plastic bin (wheels preferred) and build your own bin of quake ready supplies. IT'S EASY! While I'm a big fan of buying a kit because it has so much of what you need I have also added to it with my own personal touch.
Mayday Industries (www.maydayindustries.com) sent over a kit and we took it apart. I wanted to show you some of what was inside.
Gloves are needed as a big earthquake will displace things. It's no fun to pick up broken glass with bare hands. Think of the smaller quakes that make the news show and the broken bottles from grocery store shelves. Imagine your home after a 7.5 quake.
A utility knife is perfect to cut something or, as Kuepper says, "to cut somebody out of something," in the even they are trapped.
Yeah, yeah, I know we don't think of California as cold, but it can be. A survival blanket would be a welcome sight on a winter night. The "blanket" in the Mayday kit folded up into a nearly flat small square. It's perfect for a backpack. Oh, yeah. A backpack makes for a great grab-it-and-go quake kit.
Batteries are a must for battery operated radios and other items, like a flashlight. That means checking your kit from year to year and replacing outdated batteries. You wouldn't want an electric radio in the event the power is out. Which means your TV would be out too.
A whistle would come in handy in the event you are trapped. Just think back to disasters like Hurricane Katrina or Japan's 9.0 earthquake where those trapped waited for rescue.
We end with water. That is such a no-brainer but we can't emphasize it enough. As Kuepper says: "water, water, water. It's the most important thing." The quake kits like Mayday offer emergency water packets that are compact and can fit in your kit. I have bottles at home too but packets in my backpack kit in case I have to leave my home.
The fact is, there are hundreds of faults that run through California that can have large quakes. The experts say it is not a matter of if, but when. They encourage us all to be able to fend for ourselves from three days to two weeks.
Gunnar Kuepper is the President of IAEM Region 9 which educates disaster managers. www.iaem.com He is also the Director of the California Emergency Services Association.