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Emergency Preparedness for Health & Safety

Last night at sunset we stood in the local park and watched the flames of the Santa Barbara Gap Wildland Fire make their way down the slope of a nearby canyon. It was a truly awesome sight to see these tremendous bursts of flames as the sundowner winds fueled them on. And as we spent the night until the wee hours of the morning listening to the continuous news coverage announcing evacuations, I realized how ill-equipped the majority of us are for emergency situations. This theme of unpreparedness repeated itself as the news announcer took calls from listeners who were reporting their locations and situations. Many were frantically collecting their important papers and valuables or video-taping their home interiors to document for insurance purposes. Several had been given 30 minutes to collect items of importance and leave their homes. One woman reported “running around in circles” trying to get organized and get out in such a short amount of time. To complicate matters, many of us were experiencing wide-spread power outages caused by the ash and smoke short-circuiting the transformers. Although this is not an ergonomic issue, it can be a health and safety issue, which is related. And in lieu of all of the recent events attributed to global warming, I am going to deviate from our normal ergonomic channel and provide tips and information for preparing for a local emergency.

Have a plan. Know what to do and how to care for yourself and your family in the event that fire, police and emergency medical services may be delayed in responding.
Keep a disaster kit ready at all times. Place the following items in easy to carry containers. This is a partial summary of the most important items.
If you have children:
If you are elderly or have special medical needs:
A special thank you to all of the firefighters and support personnel who are doing such a tremendous job keeping our city safe.
Marji Hajic is an Occupational Therapist and a Certified Hand Therapist practicing in Santa Barbara, California. For more information on hand and upper extremity injuries, prevention and recovery, visit Hand Health Resources.

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