So You Think You’re Prepared? Your Very Own Tabletop Exercise and more!

So You Think You’re Prepared? Your Very Own Tabletop Exercise

A guest Author Article by one of my favorite blog authors Sheila Sund M.D. (The Disaster Doc) Do what I do, Read her blog at

I don’t care whether you are a first responder, volunteer, emergency manager, or simply a concerned citizen – you know you should be prepared! However, I’ve found that talking the talk (i.e. knowledge) and walking the walk (i.e. actually being ready) are not the same thing. In fact, some who know the most are actually the laziest about doing the work (including myself at times). There’s a bit of magical thinking going on – if we talk about it enough, we feel like it has magically happened.

Everyone also knows we should practice our plans, but individually this often gets forgotten. Pretty crazy that we put together community wide drills, but neglect drills with just a few family members. So today I give you a personalized desktop exercise. Try it by yourself, or even better, make it a family activity (or I am the only warped one where disasters are an OK topic at family meals?).

Collapsed Northridge Parking Structure - 1994. Photo by AWarc.

Collapsed Northridge Parking Structure – 1994. Photo by AWarc.

This is an earthquake scenario – just the first few hours. Don’t skip it because you don’t live in earthquake territory. First of all, earthquakes happen in places where least expected –  a large slice of the Midwest had 8.0 earthquakes in the 1800s. In addition, many people vacation occasionally in earthquake prone places (earthquakes create gorgeous scenery!). Just like I know about tornadoes, you should know about earthquakes. If nothing else, it helps you understand what we potentially face in the Pacific Northwest. Besides, playing “what if” can be fun!

In order to make this work, you must truly imagine yourself in the situation. Visualize your home and surroundings, what is happening around you, and how you respond minute by minute. No cheating – base your answers upon what you know and have prepared as of THIS MOMENT. Think through or discuss a section, then scroll down to my comments for that section before moving on to the next. Scrolling hopefully will keep you from just reading the answers. Reading without the thought exercise misses the point.

So let’s imagine…
3 AM Monday morning, mid-February – everyone’s asleep at home. Take a minute to visualize this setting – the room arrangement, how dark it is, where other family members are, and what the weather is like outside.

Starlight isn't much to go by in a disaster (although if you live in a city, it may be one of the only times you see stars). Photo by Danny Monaghan.

Starlight isn’t much to go by in a disaster (although if you live in a city, it may be one of the only times you see stars). Photo by Danny Monaghan.

Suddenly,sudden shaking and a roar jerks you out of sleep. You cannot stand up, and the shaking is so strong, the bed actually moves across the floor. All the lights go out, but you hear things crashing around you. It seems to go on and on forever, although it is actually only 4 minutes.

  1. What do you do during the shaking? Stay in bed, try to get outside, run to the kids? Will things fall on you, such as overhead fans, artwork above your bed, or furniture? Is there near-by glass  that will shatter on you? Is your building likely to collapse? Close your eyes and imagine this for 4 minutes. Open your eyes and check your watch – was it really 4 minutes?
  2. The shaking finally stops, and you lie there in the dark, with no power and no phones. How dark is it? Imagine everything from every cupboard, closet, and shelf on the floor, and mixed with drawers, lamps, and fallen over furniture.  If it can break, it is broken. What does this look like in your bedroom, in your kids’ bedrooms, and in the rest of your house? What are your next steps? How should you check on family members?
  3. Aftershocks happen frequently, and can be almost as big as the original quake. Do you evacuate, or is it safer indoors? What should you do to prevent the single greatest risk after earthquake? Do you know how to turn off the gas (be honest now)? If you are on the coast (a lovely vacation gone bad), what should you worry about? Don’t forget, it is still dark!
  4. Despite the mess, the house seems safe. Your daughter has a large cut, and your spouse probably broke their arm. Time for the ER? A fallen tree blocks your door and driveway. How will you move it? Imagine your next door neighbor is out-of-town. Unknown to anyone, their water heater tore away from the wall, and gas is leaking into their garage. Does this affect you? Once your family is safe, what should you do next?

My comments:

Nearly 7 feet tall, and with an injured arm, Mark still scrunched into a perfect preparedness pose under his desk. Photo by American Red Cross Oregon Trail Chapter

Nearly 7 feet tall, and with an injured arm, Mark still scrunched into a perfect preparedness pose under his desk. Photo by American Red Cross Oregon Trail Chapter

1)      Stay in bed, under the covers, with a pillow over your head – it gives you some protection from broken glass and lighter falling objects. The exception is when something heavy might fall on you, like unsecured heavy furniture or light fixtures. In those cases, followdrop, cover (under the nearest piece of sturdy furniture), and hold (grab your cover so it doesn’t wiggle away from you). If no cover is available, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch in an inside corner of the building. Don’t try to run anywhere. First of all, moving anywhere during the shaking is difficult. Second, injuries are more likely when moving around and not under cover.

MYTH ALERT – There is no such thing as the “triangle of life”! Don’t believe in the concept of a safe void next to large objects where you can crouch or lie!  MYTH ALERT – Doorways do not provide safe cover. Drop, cover, and hold is the way to go.

Earthquake reactivated landslide near Tacoma. It destroyed two houses at its toe and put several more in danger.

Earthquake reactivated landslide near Tacoma. It destroyed two houses at its toe and put several more in danger.

Wood frame houses will probably not collapse even in a severe earthquake. Taller buildings, like apartments – harder to predict. It helps to know in advance:

  • When your house was built.
  • What your soil is like. Is it prone to landslide, or what they call liquefaction or amplification?
  • Whether your house had seismic retrofitting to increase safety.

If you live in earthquake territory, this drill might prompt you to re-look at your  bedroom. We spend a third of our lives in bed, so why not make bedrooms safe? Bolt furniture to the wall. Don’t hang heavy fixtures over the bed or framed artwork on the wall behind your head. Secure smaller objects with putty. There is a great “Beat the Earthquake”game that checks your knowledge on securing objects – give it a try!

2)      Light is everything in a night-time disaster. My house has flashlightshere, there, and everywhere. Shoes are my second priority.  Bare feet don’t like wandering through earthquake debris. It’s painful even without cutting them open on broken glass – not the way to start your earthquake recovery. (This crosses my mind whenever I visit someone who requires shoes to come off at the door!) It takes only seconds to put shoes on, once you find them! If you do nothing else today,  put a flashlight and shoes in an emergency bag tied to everyone’s bed frame. That way, the bag moves across the floor with the bed. If you can find your bed, you can find the bag.

While getting your shoes and light, you can start making sure everyone is safe. Just stay where you are and call out. Check first on those who don’t answer, plus the very young or old. If someone responds they are OK, verbally reassure them then move on to other essential safety steps. Teach children to stay where they are until given other instructions, instead of risking injury by moving around in a potentially unsafe environment.

3)     Do a quick look at your house inside and out. If there is any evidence of collapse, slippage off the foundation, or shifting of the ground under the house, then evacuate everyone to a safe open area. Strong aftershocks can collapse an already weakened building. If the house seems intact, you decide whether to sheltering indoors versus moving to a safe place outdoors. Most of the time, inside is the better choice.


The single greatest risk after an earthquake is fire. Fire trucks can’t get many places, and even if they do, they won’t have water. You must do a fire hunt soon after an earthquake, fire extinguisher in hand. Broken electrical wiring can spark – shut off power at the control box. If you smell or hear gas, shut off the main gas valve. An earthquake is not the time to first locate your gas valve, figure out how to turn it off, and most importantly, find a crescent wrench in the mess. Keep a crescent wrench either in your emergency bag or near the gas valve. Everyone in the family should know how to do electricity, gas, and the fire extinguisher – not just the “man around the house”.

If you are at the coast at an elevation less than 150 feet above sea level, your first actions after a very large earthquake aren’t to check your house or turn off the gas. You must “get out of Dodge”! Grab the family and your go-bag, and walk or run by the fastest and shortest foot route until 150 feet above sea level – you’ve got 10-30 minutes before the tsunami hits. Stay there until instructed otherwise.

4)      First aid preparedness belongs right after light and shoes on your list of priorities. First aid training is great, but a more realistic plan includes a good first aid book, and a stash of supplies recommended by the book.  Basic first aid is not rocket science. With book in hand, anyone can do it. Lacerations and most broken arms don’t belong in the healthcare system for a few days anyway – we are dealing with more serious injuries. A public capable of treating simple injuries is key in making the system work.

Everyone should know how to move heavy objects. We keep a crowbar under our bed. Every adult also needs skill with a gas chain saw (on my to-do list), although hopefully this can wait until daylight. If someone is trapped, gather a group of neighbors and plan the safest rescue without undue risk – unfortunately, if you can’t do it, there may be nobody else.3409668047_f8e4f54544_m

After ensuring the safety of your family and house, always move out into your neighborhood. The Map Your Neighborhood program gives you a specific plan. But even without advance planning, grab a partner and start going door to door. Bring your fire extinguisher and crow bar. Remember if a neighbor’s fire gets out of control, your house is also at risk. There is no way to put fires out once they get past the point of fire extinguishers!

Pull out your battery-powered radio for official broadcasts on things like shelters, transportation, supplies, and unforeseen complications. Remember that not everything on non-official radio (or Twitter feed if you have access) is accurate. Send an “I’m safe” message to your out-of-town emergency contact, so they can pass it to other family and friends. Otherwise, I recommend turning off electronic devices – save battery power for when you really want it.

So how did you do? Are you ready to keep family safe through a major earthquake and the first few hours afterwards? Many people forget planning for the first few hours – they skip right from “drop, cover, and hold” to emergency supplies. Yet the first few hours often determine survival. If people need rescue or are severely injured, this is the golden window of opportunity. It’s also the only chance to extinguish fires early. If you do well in your first few hours, then you’ll get a chance to use your stashes of food and water. If not, it’s off to the shelter you go!

If you passed with flying colors, congratulations! If family members also passed with flying colors, add a bunch of imaginary bells and whistles!! If inspired now to go further with your planning, check out some earlier posts on Map Your NeighborhoodCERT training, and Earthquake Proofing Your Home. Let me know whether you liked this exercise and whether you’d like more in the future.


Stay Safe
Sheila Sund, M.D.


Fresh New Items and Items Back in stock at the store!

It may seem quiet here at the Preparedness Center when you come in, but in reality things move quite quickly around here. We are working to get most of our store inventory onto our website at

Recently we have added a new feature to the website that allows you to add yourself to an email list for each product when it is out of stock. As soon as we get new inventory of that product you will get a email to let you know ITS BACK!


We have expanded our line of backpacks just for you! We noticed that high quality packs have become a popular item here and we have expanded our inventory to add the large transport pack, this is a great backpack. Check it out here on our website. 

New Books!
We have gotten quite a selection of new books here at the store, come see us!

Ham Radio’s

We are now carrying a great 2 meter Ham radio from Baofeng a great deal at $109.00


MIDLAND XT511 22-Channel GMRS Emergency Crank Radio with AM/FM/Weather Alert & GMRS Radio

NEW BPA FREE 55 Gallon Water Drums

Aerobic 07™ – Stabilized Oxygen Supplement 30ml 1.0 OZ

Adventure Medical Kits – Family First Aid


Mylar Bags in both 5 Gallon and the new Ziplock style bags,
CCrane Solar Radios
CCrane Dymo Lanterns

It’s Happening at the Portland Preparedness Center

Did you know we offer classes? If you get this newsletter its likely that you do.

Upcoming Classes


Concealed Carry Class with Blackstone Gun Saftey, March 12th 2012 Starting at 5:00PM! Sign up here, before the spaces are gone!

Red Cross First Aid Class – TBD but coming soon!

Are you a Prepper?

Do you want to meet like minded people and learn more about becoming prepared?

The Portland Preparedness center is happy to be host to a MEETUP group called Prepper Group Be Prepared, If you want to know more and sign up to join us take a look at their website. 


The JarBox

Earthquake Protection for your home canned goods.

ON SALE NOW $18.95

The JarBox is designed to safely store or transport your canning jars. Protect your preserves from breakage during transportation, small earth quakes, and rodents. The JarBox is made of durable hard plastic and they can be nested or stacked on each other for easy storage while not in use.

JarBox Totes come two to a package and can be used separately as bases to keep your jars from sliding around on shelves, or you can use one of the totes as a base and the other tote as a lid for safe transport.

For those of us who do our own canning Jeri has invented the JarBox..

This wonderful container can protect your home canned goods and much more. Finally we can store our own canned goods in Earthquake Country and not have to worry about the big earthquake knocking them all off the shelves.

With the JarBox you can rest assured that your home canned goods and even store bought goods can be safe!

I am a home canner myself and one of my greatest fears during an earthquake would be Jar to jar shaking breaking my precious jars and destroying my canned foods that I will certainly want to have in an emergency.

Purchase ONLINE or in our store!

It’s in the car!

If we knew where we would be when an emergency happens it would be easy to be prepared. However the unexpected is commonplace when it comes to emergencies.

It’s easy and affordable to have a few items in the Glovebox of your car, or in the bottom of your backpack that can help you be prepared for anything.

The Survival Medic
The Survival Medic contains survival and first aid essentials in an ultralight waterproof pouch that is small enough to fit just about anywhere. Packed inside the ultralight waterproof pouch is an SOL Emergency Blanket, Fire Lite™sparker, Tinder-Quik tinder, SLIM Rescue Howler™ whistle, duct tape, and button compass, as well as antiseptic wipes, gauze, and bandages too.


The Frontier Emergency Water Filter System

Emergency or back-up filter for traveling, hiking and fishing. The filter can be used to drink from any bottle or cup or directly from water sources. Removes contaminants down to 2 microns in size including pathogens such as giardia, cryptosporidium and large bacteria. Can filter up to 20 gallons depending on water clarity. Comes with filter and straw.


Social Media Can Matter.

Join our conversation if you use Facebook or Twitter, and have not followed The Preparedness Center yet you might be missing out on some great conversations.

Click the links to the left and follow our page, Todays question was,
“What are you doing this week to get prepared?”

Jennifer said, “Organize and list. I have accumilated so many things here and there that I thought would be nice to have in an emergency but won’t do me much good if I do not know where they are all at so that is my plan for the week.”

Jennifer has the right idea! Having a lot of stuff is not going to help you if you can’t find it after an emergency!

Maria said, ” I need to do some research into waste disposal; got a bag of lime, not sure that’s going to be effective enough. Must read up on it.”

Maria there is a wonderful website that you can do a lot of the emergency sanitation research on call PLUSH! Check them out here. And then Come down to the center and we have great options for emergency toilets.

Read the rest of the conversation and join it by clicking this link, like our page and add your two cents..

Here are a sample and a link to another great relevant article, from Emergency Management,

Using Social Media to Enhance Situational Awareness By: Adam Stone on January 07, 2013

Social media monitoring is a relatively new practice in state and local government. It had its start in the retail arena, where uses can be fairly sophisticated, as businesses labor to target their marketing and advertising to likely subsets of buyers. Still, headway is being made in governmental and quasi-governmental organizations. One of the clearest examples comes from the American Red Cross, which in March 2012 established a digital operations center at its national headquarters. Built on technology platform Radian6, the center’s console displays a running stream of social media mentions based on keywords of interest to the agency. “Red Cross” alone draws some 4,000 mentions a day.

Continue Reading this Article By Clicking here.

YouTube Videos

Visualize Earthquakes!

What does it feel like to be in a massive earthquake? Many of us do not know, we hear stories about the sounds of a freight train or a deep rumble, and we imagine what it would be like to wake up in the middle of the night to the shaking.

But What does it look like?

Well I took some time and went out on the internet to find some amazingyoutube videos. I wanted to share them with you and encourage you to watch them.

A view of the 2010 8.8 Chile quake from the 12th Floor of the Hotel valdivia

Another video worth watching is Signs of Change from YouTube User HawkkeyDavisChannel…

Here is the Past week, Signs Of Change The Past Week Or So Feb. 2013  This series picks up right where it left off last week. Floods, earthquakes, meteors exploding and more has taken place the past week or so.

The New Large Transport Bag can carry your 72 Hour kit and more! There is room for extra clothes and with the Mole straps you can attach all kinds of extras to the bag, to get you safely home! In any situation.

$79.99 – Visit our store

Thanks for Reading Everyone! Stay Safe! Stay Alert, Get Prepared!

Joshua Patterson
Business Operations Manager

Portland Preparedness Center

7202 NE Glisan St
Portland, Oregon 97213

Open Monday – Saturday 10am-6pm

Anteros Oberon
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