Urban Emergency Preparedness


I grew up safety conscious about adventures: camping, fishing, hiking, road trips, etc. Alex and I bring lots of safety gear kayaking. Yet Hurricane Harvey was a good reminder that sometimes you need survival gear in your own home.

We keep all our gear in our backyard shed. Part of me felt this REI class might be a waste of time, since I figured we had the gear, knew how to use it, and had gotten ourselves out of a pickle or two (including having our steripen stop working). When it first started it was pretty basic (make sure you have a family plan – oh wait, basic yet we don’t have one…do you?) but then it got interesting quickly.

Turns out it was not only a good brain exercise on how you would use certain equipment at home, such as, yes you have a water purifier but where is your closest water source if the pipes aren’t working and yes, you have a GPS beacon but do you have a radio (hint: if you’re like me and don’t then you have a car with a battery that will last for a while). Also it made me feel (only slightly) bad for making fun of my husband for getting a cumbersome camp stove that’s good for different fuel sources so you can use it at high elevation (which I felt was overkill since we’re at sea level and don’t summit mountains).  Well, being able to use regular gasoline for your camp stove might come in pretty darn useful.

But it was also a good class on resources to look up BEFORE an emergency (with an obvious but needed reminder you might not be able to youtube or wikipedia about things during an actual emergency)

The Seattle Hazard Explorer is an interesting site where you can see how a large earthquake could affect the neighborhood you live in (including the earthquake itself, aftershocks, tsunamis, liquefaction, landslides, unreinforced masonry buildings (of which there are a lot in Seattle!), and flooding.

Under the earthquakes section there is recent earthquake activity tracked (there’s one almost every day, though I rarely feel them).

Looking at my neighborhood we have a lower chance of feeling the shaking “due to the underlying geology”. Where I work is moderate. Liquefaction would take place right next to where I work so I probably wouldn’t be able to go home if I was there (which they wouldn’t allow anyway since I work at a hospital) but it’s also good to know that I’m not sure I should try getting to work in an emergency either (which again, the hospital would want) if there was a big enough earthquake. Interestingly enough there could be lots of flooding near my home, so I could always go help out there instead!


You can sign up for Seattle emergency alerts here, which I had already done and it’s a good idea because then also when you call 911 from your cell phone they should have your name and address pop up (and any medical and other info that you voluntarily put in there).


Another VERY interesting thing are the snap groups (snap = Seattle neighborhoods actively prepare), which can be found here. The slightly harder to find link is the neighborlink map here. The map is orange with all the people but I’m sure more are needed because of how many people are not prepared for an emergency. I found the closest hub to my house (a church) and now know where to go if there’s an emergency and we don’t have a certain supply (since that’s where supplies are dropped off first for distribution) or just want to communicate or help!

Do you have an emergency plan? Have you thought how you can use your camping supplies in an urban emergency? Do you have enough supplies for your household for at least three days and maybe some to share with your neighbors? Do you know what resources you have for finding out what your area (including your work area) is prone to? I’ve got some but am going to improve things for my family. I hope you do too.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s