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Hazard-Specific Preparedness

Downed Trees After stormA vital first step to disaster preparedness is identifying the types of disaster that occur within a community. A requirement of the City’s Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan is the Hazard Identification Vulnerability Analysis which evaluates the potential for various disasters to occur within Kirkland. The events most likely to occur in the City are: 
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EARTHQUAKES

Earthquakes pose the most likely threat of major disaster to residents in the Puget Sound region. Fortunately, with proper information, planning and response, they are among the most survivable of disasters.

Some preparations that pertain specifically to earthquakes are listed below. More comprehensive information is available in Kirkland's Let’s Get Prepared Handbook

Anchor Your Home

Washington State experiences approximately 1,000 earthquakes each year; most too weak, deep or distant for citizens to notice. However, those like the Nisqually Quake of 2001 rock buildings and cause damage. In a significant quake, homes not attached to their foundations may shift dangerously, jeopardizing residents and their property and making the homes uninhabitable. 

Most homes built after 1975 are attached.  Houses built before then should be checked. Those not attached, should be “retrofitted,” which requires a local government permit. 

Anchor Your Furnishings

During an earthquake, homes may shake enough to throw even heavy objects and furniture across a room.  To protect lives and property, larger furnishings that rest on the floor or wall, should be properly attached to them. Smaller objects, including those that rest on shelves, should be affixed with temporary adhesives.  Cabinet doors should be secured when not in use. Remove heavy objects over or near beds and strap down water heaters.

Locate Utility Shut-Offs

To prevent fires, flooding and gas poisoning, know where and how to turn off the electricity, gas, and water to your home.

How to survive earthquakes

Most people are injured in earthquakes when trying to get from one place to another. If you have already identified safe locations in the places where you regularly spend time - and you practice using them - we will know to go there during the earthquake. In any case, here are some general tips:

  • If you are indoors, stay inside. Do not run outside. Do not get in a doorway as this does not provide protection.
  • DROP, COVER and HOLD ON under a heavy table or counter. Stay low, stay put and protect your head and neck. 
  • If you are outside when the shaking happens move away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires. This might not be possible in a city, so you may need to duck inside a building to avoid falling debris (See Ready.gov for more tips).

"Triangle of Life" - Dangerous Misinformation!

For a number of years, an email written by a Doug Copp, has circulated throughout the country, urging citizens to take certain actions during earthquakes that he claims are safer than the response taught by most emergency managers and disaster preparedness educators in the U.S. He has titled his idea the "Triangle of Life."

In fact, the practice advocated by Copp is unsupported and experts in the field of disaster preparedness consider his advice dangerous for people in the U.S. Copp's advice is based on an assumption that buildings in this country will automatically collapse and "pancake" as can happen in other countries. In fact, because of our building standards, most U.S. structures withstand earthquakes, without collapse.

The best action to take during an earthquake in the U.S. remains "drop, cover and hold on!"  For more information regarding Doug Copp and his Triangle of Life, please visit: American Red Cross, Snopes Urban Legends, and Earthquake Country.



FLOODS AND MUD SLIDES

 

In this region, we expect a lot of rain October through June, but are under-prepared for the occasional torrential rains that fall so quickly and for so long that they trigger flood and mud slides and can dislodge and destroy homes and roads, uproot large trees, obstruct travel, sweep away vehicles and cause drownings.  Fortunately, we usually have advance warning and there are things you can do to protect yourself and your property.     

How to mitigate damage from flooding

  • Evaluate the design of your property for its potential to withstand long periods of heavy rain.  Strengthen vulnerable areas, such as ground that slopes toward the house.
  • Routinely check drain pipes and clear them when clogged.
  • Maintain generous amounts of vegetation to absorb significant rain water.
  • Inspect your home for areas that might not withstand high water and heavy downpours. Fix potential trouble spots.
  • Keep valuable documents in water proof containers, off the floor.
  • Assess the roadways you travel to and from home for their proximity to rivers and plan entry and evacuation routes, accordingly (See Roadways).
  • Store sandbags and eventually an inflatable raft for emergency use.

How to avert danger during flooding

  • Pay attention to weather reports on a daily basis.
  • Plan for the worst possible conditions predicted.
  • Avoid travel during torrential rains.
  • When travel is necessary, use roadway reports to plan the safest route. In general, use the highest-lying roadways.
  • Evacuate your home when authorities advise you to or when conditions worsen and you feel unsafe.
  • Watch for downed power lines and avoid areas near them. Water carries electrical current and can electrocute you from a distance. 



WINTER STORMS


In addition to heavy rains, our winters often include brief periods of snow and ice. Because they are relatively short-lived, local residents often do not know how to navigate well in them. The following tips may help:

Preparing for storms

  • Replace regular tires with snow tires (not metal studded) at the start of the winter season (usually by the end of November.)
  • Carry an emergency roadway kit in the trunk at all times.
  • Keep a wool blanket, a few health bars and a gallon of water in the passenger area, at all times.
  • At a driver’s education company, get trained on a special vehicle that simulates icy conditions.

Avoiding danger during storms

  • Pay attention to weather reports on a daily basis.
  • Plan for the worst possible conditions predicted.
  • Wear clothing appropriate for outside temperatures.
  • Avoid travel when the ground is icy, particularly at night.
  • When travel is necessary, use the lowest-lying route possible.
  • Keep intersections free!
    • Pull over when heavy snowfall, hail or ice, impair visibility.

 



PUBLIC HEALTH DISASTERS

 

A communicable disease outbreak can have a greater impact on a community than, for instance, a major earthquake. When even being near someone can lead to serious illness or death, citizens will have to isolate themselves for their own and others’ safety. Government offices, grocery stores, pharmacies, and other workplaces may close; public transportation may shut down; the numbers of available health care workers and first responders may dwindle; services, including postal delivery may discontinue for the duration of the disease; etc.  

Preventing the spread of disease

Using simple sanitary practices is our best way to prevent the outbreak of a communicable disease. Some key habits to adopt include the following:

  • Stay home when sick. Stay away from others when they are sick.
  • Cover sneezes and coughs, preferably with disposable tissues or into your elbow - not your hands. 
  • Dispose of used tissues in enclosed trash containers.
  • Use gloves and hygienic masks whenever possible and in public places.
  • Wash hands frequently with soap & water and wipe with antibacterial gel.
  • Keep your hands away from your face.

Surviving disease outbreaks

  • Listen to public information bulletins.
  • Follow all guidelines recommended by health officials (Real-time updates are available on @CDC)
  • Stay home and avoid public areas as much as possible.
  • Wear a hygienic mask over nose and mouth when outdoors.
  • Avoid direct contact with others and objects they touch.
  • Maintain your health: sleep, drink lots of fluids, eat fruits and vegetables.

Learn more about particular diseases, prevention and response through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

 



TERRORISM AND BIO/CHEMICAL ATTACKS AND INCIDENTS

 

Terrorist attacks of any kind are currently rare where we live. The best prevention advice at this time is to remain aware of one’s surroundings and report any situations that seem highly suspicious. Examples of situations that may be worth reporting:

  • Unattended containers, large or small, in unusual places.
  • Unusual substances leaking from containers or in the open.
  • Packages and other mail from unknown or unfamiliar sources.
  • One or more persons acting in a distraught or threatening manner.
  • Someone dressed extremely inappropriately for the current weather.

The location and time of any explosive, biological or chemical attack will likely remain unknown to us until such an event occurs. At that time, the best advice for anyone affected or potentially contaminated, includes:

  • Stay as calm as possible. Call 9-1-1 if you are able to.
  • If structures are damaged, be careful in moving to a safer location.
  • If potentially dangerous substances are involved, avoid transferring them to others places and people. 

   Examples:

  • Leave substances alone and call authorities.
  • If contaminated, stay put and call authorities in.
  • If outside the contamination area, try to keep others out.
  • If contaminants are in the air, shelter in place.
  • Stay tuned to your radio and social media for information on the situation.
  • Follow all directions advised by local authorities.

Fire Services
123 5th Avenue, Kirkland WA 98033

General Inquiries
T. 425.587.3650 | F. 425.587.3671