A disaster, as defined by Jayson Johnson of the Los Angeles Fire Department, is an event “that exceeds our ability to handle the problem.” When earthquakes, heavy storms, or pandemic viruses hit us, do we really know what to do? As a service to the community, the Venice Neighborhood Council sponsored “Venice Be Ready” on May 30, offering information about disaster preparedness.
Tables at Venice Be Ready displayed brochures and free items such as safety whistles, cleansing gel hand-washing packets, and first aid and disaster supply kits, while representatives from preparedness agencies gave advice and presentations.
Armando Navarrete of the SmART (Small Animal Rescue Team) explained that the team rescues both domestic and wild animals. Rescues have ranged from the commonplace (cats stuck in trees) to a deer being rescued from the ocean. SmAART can be contacted at laanimalservices.com.
Jayson Johnson’s presentation on surviving earthquakes and similar disasters emphasized having a plan and keeping survival supplies on hand. He dispensed with the popular idea that standing in a doorway is the best thing to do during an earthquake. Architecture has changed, Johnson noted, and modern homes are not necessarily supported by doorways.
“The best thing to do is duck, cover, and hold,” he said. Ducking means getting down on the floor-staying in the same place, since moving to another part of the room might be riskier. Covering means crouching in a sort of fetal position and covering one’s head. Johnson also advised against going outside during an earthquake, because “the earth outside won’t be the same as it was before.” The two hours following a quake are the most crucial, because aftershocks and accidents tend to cause more injuries and fatalities that the quakes themselves.
Important supplies to keep on hand include a crowbar, flashlight with extra batteries, radio with batteries, first aid kit, a five-day supply of water (one gallon per person per day), non-perishable foods, and shoes with strong soles, in case of broken glass.
Captain Jeff Elder of the LAFD gave a presentation on tsunamis, which have become a major concern since the Indonesian disaster of 2004. Because of that event, Los Angeles County and the City of Los Angeles teamed up to create a tsunami task force in 2005. Councilmember Bill Rosendahl obtained funding for tsunami warning signs that have now been posted around Venice and Marina Del Rey in the “inundation zone” (low-lying areas west of Lincoln Boulevard).
Elder explained that a tsunami caused by a distant geological event (an underwater earthquake) will take six to eight hours to arrive, giving residents time to evacuate. He urged that people evacuate on foot rather than by car.
Tsunami warnings can be obtained via special weather radios available from the City of Los Angeles for $50. The tsunami web site is wcatwc.arh.noaa.gov/
But Elder added that, despite the seriousness of disasters, people should “keep it light,” while learning to protect and prepare. “Don’t be so scared of a disaster that you’re unable to live your life.”