Readiness emphasized at local Map Your Neighborhood meeting

The Port Orchard community attended a seminar on disaster preparedness titled, “Map Your Neighborhood Introduction” at the city hall Sept. 27 in preparation for natural disaster events that have a possibility of occurring within the county.

Port Orchard Mayor Tim Matthes held the workshop introducing citizens to this free program that Kitsap County Department of Emergency Management offers to help Kitsap County residents rehearse the several steps to take before and after a natural disaster strikes.

Many counties within the state encourage citizen participation in Map Your Neighborhood.

Emergency Management public educator Susan May hosted the event and told Port Orchard citizens that the most important thing they can do if a disaster occurs is to think before they react and stay calm, but she added that being prepared is the best way of combating the event so that victims of the natural disaster are able to remain rational during and after they experience the emergency scenario.

May said that the most likely natural disaster to occur in Kitsap County is an earthquake. To prepare for the possible earth shaking crisis, groups of people in various cities participating in Map Your Neighborhood in the county remind each other to keep shoes under their beds, along with bicycle helmets and leather gloves since window glass will shatter onto the floor during an earthquake. Citizens engaging in readiness as part of the program frequently practice reminding themselves and others around them not to immediately jump out of their beds while the shaking is occurring if an earthquake strikes.

“Stay in your bed  because it will throw you down. Put the sheets and blankets over your head,” May said. “Don’t run because you will trip and lose your footing.”

May added that for every room in the household, whether it is the kitchen, the bedroom, the family room or the television room, Port Orchard residents should look into that space and predetermine what they would do in the event that an earthquake suddenly struck. May said that many people overreact in certain scenarios, such as earthquakes, and recommends that people should stop, drop, hold and seriously think whether they want to run if they find themselves inside a building or housing structure when a quake hits. Loose or unstable objects can and often do become deadly objects that may cause violent death in the event of an earthquake, so people should try to get under a table or a solid chair, May said.

“Running is the first thing everyone wants to do. Why don’t we run? Because we can trip. You run out of the building and maybe the beautiful clock that’s on the outside of some buildings that is just kind of attached comes down,” May said. “Flat-screen televisions are not heavy but they are an awkward shape and have a pointy end. Most offices buildings now are all tied down, but in Olympia, in some of the older buildings with the right momentum the computers shot across the room. Your hot water heater is the same thing. It’s pressurized. Your hot water could shoot out.”

People who find themselves in an earthquake outside should pull over and stay inside of their cars and stay away from power lines and trees, and if not traveling in a car, run for the nearest open-spaced ditch, according to May.

May added  that Port Orchard citizens should remember to turn off their appliances when evacuating their homes after a disaster, whether the event is a power outage, an earthquake or a flood,  because if they leave the appliances on, when the power capacity in their area returns, unforeseen threats can occur, such as burning food and household items.

“You may have left your pot of soup on the stove and it could boil over and melt your pot,” May said. “People leave their lights and ovens on during power outages after storms. When they come back their soup is boiling away.”

May said at the meeting that citizens participating in Map Your Neighborhood should store non-perishable foods that family members will find comfort in during an emergency, in addition to flashlights, batteries, extra laptop computer batteries and essential items, such such as toilet paper.

Participants in Map Your Neighborhood preparedness also create a neighborhood inventory based upon what useful training different residents within the neighborhood may have so that residents know who is adequate in dealing with situations that include fires, taking care of children, plumbing, fixing electrical wiring, giving first aid, plumbing, carpentry and counseling.

Participants in this county emergency preparedness program also learn to share different survival supplies and keep a list of which neighborhood member is storing the first-aid kits, the tents, spare bedding, generators, fire extinguishers, stoves, Walkie-Talkies, radios, ladders crow bars, chainsaws and ropes.

Members also keep one contact number outside of town to call in case of an emergency and all members share a common gathering area in a Map Your Neighborhood designated care center where children, the elderly and the disabled are taken in the event of an emergency.

Matthes emphasized at the meeting that public take appropriate preparatory measures for their own personal safety and survival in the event that a natural disaster related crisis affecting Port Orchard occurs in the future.

“We’re not going to be able to get there as fast as you would like us to be there and we don’t have that many responders and who knows what other communities are going to need them worse,” Matthes said. “The more prepared we are together the better. To me it’s a peace of mind issue. If you are prepared, if you know what you should do, then you are a lot more relaxed. You’re not going to panic and run outside and do yourself more harm than good. Even if the emergency doesn’t arise,  you’re ready.  So you can’t hardly lose by being prepared.”

Matthes said that a good portion of the side of Bay Street nearest to the waterfront is built on fill. While it means there is a greater potential for this foundation to liquify than areas not built on fill, Matthes doesn’t seem too worried.

“They say it will, but we’ve been through a couple earthquakes and it didn’t liquify, but maybe it wasn’t the right kind of shaking. We have been through several and those old buildings have stood up.”

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