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Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Lessons From San Bruno

Most of the country has heard about the natural gas explosion that happened in San Bruno, Ca.

As preppers, what can we learn from this disaster?

Proactive Evacuations - 

Here's what we know right now:  PG&E (the major utility provider in Northern California) had reports of gas smells for quite a while before the explosion.  They investigated and gave the area an "all clear" rating.  As a resident, it would be the rare individual that would have evacuated the area before the explosion considering the utility company signed-off on the area.

So, unlike Katrina or other hurricanes, there was no realistic advanced warning, so you would have to deal with the incident as it happened.

On a side note, I've been reading more and more stories of people that have been brushed off by PG&E in the past, only to later find out their reports were correct.  They have lost a LOT of credibility in the public's eye.  PG&E is going to have their buttocks removed over this incident.

Reactive Responses -

Because of the catastrophic, but fairly localized impact of the disaster, the further away from the primary explosion, the better you fared.  Yeah, luck was a huge deal here!

Speaking of luck, how do you have 37 homes destroyed, 251 damaged, but "only" 7 people confirmed dead (as of this date).  Yep, there are some people reported as missing (9 was the last number I read), but I'm simply stunned that the death count is not higher.

At this time, they don't know what actually caused the explosion, but this crater is what's left -

Let's assume you weren't at the center of the explosion - but because of the violent nature of the explosion, you literally had time to grab your car keys, Bug Out Bag and your family.  Out the door!

What kind of freedom and independence would your BOB have afforded you? 

Cash and credit/debit cards would have been very important for your immediate needs.  How much cash would you need to stay independent for 2 or 3 days?  Food, motel room, rental car, etc.  The debit cards are also used as primary identification tools by banks for access to your records and funds.

How would you communicate with family and friends that you're OK?  It's almost impossible to find a public pay phone nowadays.  Grabbing your regular cell phone was probably not at the top of your list of things to grab as you're running from the house.  You need to have a cell phone as a part of your BOB.  You can pick up a pre-paid cell phone for $20, and pre-paid minutes at almost any big box store, liquor store or convenience store in the country.  Get you phone purchased and set up, and stock your BOB with the phone, its charger and pre-paid cards.

You DO want to make the phone operational BEFORE the disaster.  I'm writing a post on communications that I'll publish shortly that will go into this in more detail.

Identification must be addressed.  They're just starting to allow people back into the area, but you have to prove who you are.  Paper copies of your important identity and residence records - drivers licenses, mortgage bills, utility bills, etc., would help you to cut through the red tape.

Next will come insurance documents.  Again, possessing copies of these documents would get you serviced more quickly, getting you access to financial and housing resources provided by your coverage.

Medical needs must be addressed as well.  First aid as well as life-sustaining medications.  With regards to medications, at the very minimum, a copy of your prescription should be kept in your BOB.

What else?

Accept The Challenge

Those of us not directly impacted by disasters like this need to use them as "wake up calls" - kicks in the butt to get our BOBs and other preparations in order before we're the ones on the nightly news.

Emergencies come in many different forms and impacts.  While you can't prepare for every type of every emergency (focus on the 12 Impacts, NOT the emergency itself), we do need to cover as many bases as is practical given our own personal circumstances and resources.

Get moving, people!

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Copyright 2010 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.


Joseph said...

On the point about a phone we use an internet phone as our secondary number that can be redirected to any phone. Someone calling my backup number would not know if they're calling my cell, me at my parents or a friend's place.

There are a lot of choices that have certain benefits and in some cases different features but the ones I have personal experience using.
SkypeIn - low cost ($18 for 3 months or $60 for a full year) and once you install Skype you can redirect to any number if you don't pick up on your computer or Skype enabled phone.
Google Voice - Free and it forwards to whatever device you prefer and you can check your messages online. They are testing a feature to be able to make landline calls from your computer but it seems to be problematic for some.

Chief Instructor said...


I'm a big fan of VOIP phones. I've been using a service called Ureach for 10+ years now. It is my toll-free number and incoming fax number. I use MagicJack for my "regular" business phone number. As you noted, I route them where I want them to go. If I'm with a class, I have them go to voicemail directly. After the class, and they're back in biz.