DIE IN A WELL-PLANNED FASHION
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In 1987, before the California Loma Prieta earth quake, a real estate magazine published one of
those odious checklists which are designed to eat up your time, and confer a
sense of doing something productive while you are doing nothing of the kind.
What follows is- a commentary on the suggestions in the checklist. Actually, the
ideas arenít all that bad, just need a dash of skepticism.
The words of the original article are in bold. Our observations are not so
Just because you are about to be smashed like a cockroach does
not mean that you have to run around like one.
Inside: Stand in a doorway, or crouch under a desk or table, away from
windows or glass dividers. You would not wish to be killed outright. Far
better to hold out, dying slowly of thirst and hunger, while insects and small
animals chew about your feet and legs for about a week.
Outside: Stand away from buildings, trees, telephone and electric lines.
Instead, hold yourself plump and ready for the armed looters, robbers and
On the road: Drive away from under passes/overpasses; stop in a safe area;
stay in vehicle. See above.
Check for injuries - provide first aid.
That annoying arterial bleeding
will stain the new carpet.
Check for safety -- check for gas, water, sewage breaks; check for downed
electric lines and shorts; turn off appropriate utilities; check for building
damage and potential safety problems during after shocks such as cracks around
chimney and foundation. On the other hand, your next door neighbor, lacking
earthquake insurance, will ignore these hazards, hoping his building will be
consumed by flames and thus be replaced by his fire insurer.
Clean up dangerous spills.
We donít want all that anthrax spraying
Duh! Bruno Magli if you have them.
Turn on radio and listen for instructions from public safety agencies.
Anyone hear from the emergency radio network after Loma Prieta? If all the power
is down, where does the radio station get the power to broadcast? Lay in an
emergency Parcheesi game.
Donít use the telephone except for emergency use.
See the part about
the radio. You wonít have to use much will power to hold down your telephone
Portable radio with extra batteries.
Those Nine Lives
1958 come in handy. You can tune in the radio stations that are running on
Flashlight with extra batteries.
At last something that makes sense.
Check out the Crane Company, in Fortuna, California, to get one of those new LED
First Aid Kit -- including specific medicines needed for members of your
household. What kind of water are you going to use to wash down the pills.
First Aid Book.
Sew that arm back on in no time. See Martha Stewartís
Those firestorms can reduce property values all across
Adjustable wrench for turning off gas and water.
Easily accessible under
the basement rubble, or possibly in the trunk of the wifeís car, buried
somewhere at the airport.
Smoke detector properly installed.
Your tenants will want to know in
advance that they are about to become crispy critters.
Portable fire escape ladder for homes/apartments with multiple floors.
Ever tried to climb down a flexible ladder? Youíre better off jumping from the
Bottled water -- sufficient for the number of members in your household.
Congratulations, you have held off dysentery for two days.
Canned and dried foods sufficient for a week for each member of your
household. Note: Both water and food should be rotated into normal meals of a
household so as to keep freshness. Canned goods have a normal shelf-life of one
year for maximum freshness. Work hominy and canned hash into your Sunday
Non-electric can opener.
Somewhat conflicting with
Portable stove, such as butane or charcoal.
CO asphyxiation is said to be
Essential to ignition of trace natural gas fumes, leading to
insurance recovery, see above, when you are tired of all this earthquake
Telephone numbers of police, fire and doctor.
Excuse me, but if the phone
even works, they will all be busy implementing the brilliant suggestions listed
Joking aside, a disaster is a disaster. Lay by what you can, in places that
make sense, and tie down things which might fly apart and gratuitously kill
people. Then hope for the best.
has an excellent series of fact sheets available at no charge which can help you
make realistic preparations for the unthinkable. Print the ones you unthink you
When deciding which ones you need you may wish to remember, earthquakes are
not unique to California. One of the most powerful earthquakes known to the
continent may well have been the one centered on New Madrid, Mo., in the early
part of the nineteenth century. It caused the Mississippi to flow northwards
for a time. See Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi.