Organizing and Disaster Preparedness

Since this is the anniversary month of the Loma Prieta earthquake, it is a good time to talk about how to use organizing to be more prepared and how to have preparedness help your organizing.

There are several important principles to follow while organizing that will improve your disaster preparedness:

* Put heavy objects on lower shelves – even books should be organized this way. Regardless of category, I reserve the bottom shelf of two of my bookcases that sit on the floor for over-sized books. When planning what goes in cabinets, it’s better to put heavy items in lower cabinets.

* Secure everything – any item that is not in some way fastened down can become a flying missle, so use Quake Wax (hardware stores) or some similar product to secure fragile items (like vases or lamps), wires or bungee cords for keeping things on shelves, and anchor heavy furniture like bookshelves, cabinets, and some filing cabinets and dressers (all the tall ones) directly into the wall studs.

* Make sure you have a clear space in every room, that is an area under a sturdy desk or table where you could shelter from flying objects and falling debris, and that every member of your household knows where they can shelter in each room (FYI – the ideal place to shelter is NOT in a doorway – doors move and are likely to be a source of injury rather than protection)

* Review the status of your home fire extinguisher (yes, you should have one). Most old home fire extinguishers lose pressure after a few years although this may not be clear from the gauge (it can say everything is fine when it has actually become useless) and replace any expired emergency supplies (rotate your bottled water and emergency food once a year). AND SCHEDULE YOURSELF AND EVERYONE IN YOUR HOUSEHOLD FOR NERT TRAINING ( or the equivalent program in your county (get your neighbors and friends to go as well)

Now how disaster preparedness can help organizing:
* The fewer items you have sitting out, the less potential for flying objects, so let the certainty of another major earthquake give you incentive to clear things out (it’s when there will be one, not if)

* Making room for supplies and clear spaces will help you identify things that are far less important for safety and survival; this should be a top criteria for setting priorities for both time management and organizing

* Using the anniversary dates (1906 quake in April and Loma Prieta in October) as timelines for getting things done can help you stay on top of your goals. Planning on at least one facet of disaster preparedness work every month will keep you moving forward without becoming overwhelmed.

Don’t be scared – be prepared!

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