Natural disasters are seemingly constant these days. We are all aware of this, but I don’t think we talk about it as much as we should. People can try to explain disasters away with analysis, they can try to avoid disasters or they can just ignore the fact that disasters exist, but eventually, each of us will probably have to confront the reality of Mother Earth shaking things up when we least expect it.
Humans are constantly trying to explain why natural disasters occur. There’s the religious explanation: it’s God’s wrath. There’s the scientific explanation: global warming. There’s even a political explanation: fracking and environmentally unfriendly big business. You can try to explain it any way you want, but when the shit hits the fan you don’t want to be caught with your pants down while all of your eggs fly away in the same basket in gale-force winds. Cliches and finger-pointing aside, we should probably be prepared.
Nevada is mostly natural disaster free unless you call drought a natural disaster, which I don’t because it can be avoided by not building cities in places without water. You could say the same about other disaster-prone areas, I guess. Like don’t live near the Gulf of Mexico because there are hurricanes, don’t live in the Midwest because there are tornadoes and don’t live in the Pacific Northwest because of hipsters…I mean tsunamis. But, where are we supposed to go? Canada? Get real.
I love living in a place with few natural disasters because I’m deathly afraid of them, especially tornadoes. I couldn’t tell you why, I’ve never lived anywhere near tornadoes, but I’m only human. Lucky for me, we don’t have to live in fear of the mighty twister in Nevada, but there are other ways that Mother Earth could decide to annihilate all of our belongings or kill us. With a little help from the Ready Campaign, I’ll talk you through some possible disasters in Nevada.
Mark Twain once bragged about starting a wildfire in Tahoe. What a douche. Mark Twain lived in the Carson Valley if you didn’t know.
If you see a fire, call the police. Don’t assume someone else already has. Wildfires are extremely destructive if they spread to populated areas. Most of us students aren’t homeowners, so we don’t have to worry about protecting our homes. We do have to worry about our stuff, our pets and our well-being.
If you’re told to evacuate, get the hell out of here. There’s no reason to stick around. Grab your cat and your Xbox and hit the road. In preparation for a possible wildfire, make sure a friend can get into your place when you go out of town so they can grab your cat and Xbox for you.
I will never forget last Spring when the Truckee flooded, and cranes were on the bridges Downtown scooping logs out of the river like Derek Jeter at shortstop. That was amazing, but also a reminder of how dangerous floods can be. The river will rip through vegetation and take anything it can with it.
In the event of a flood, don’t try to drive or walk through it, and move to higher ground if possible. Also, be aware that bridges can become unstable when fast-moving floodwaters scour foundational material underneath them.
In your apartment, when you hear conditions are ripe for floods, unplug your electronics so you don’t get electrocuted.
This is the rarest disaster in Nevada but probably the most deadly. There is constant seismic activity in the state because we sit on many active fault lines, but there hasn’t been a large-scale earthquake since 2008 and the 1950s before that. They can’t really be predicted, and they happen suddenly. Where the actual event is not as intense as a big-time hurricane, earthquakes can bring down and bust open everything around you.
According to Ready, “Earthquakes may cause household items to become dangerous projectiles; cause buildings to move off foundations or collapse, damage utilities, roads and structures such as bridges and dams, or cause fires and explosions.” The best place to be is an open field with nothing tall around you, but few of us are shepherds, and we live in areas with structures everywhere.
How do you prepare for an earthquake? Look around your home, and secure anything that could become a “dangerous projectile.” If it looks like it could fall, lock it down. Then, go outside and take a look at the building you live in. If it looks shaky, call your landlord and ask her whether she’s ever consulted a structural engineer.
What do you do during an earthquake? Hit the deck and cover your head. Try to find something sturdy to hold on to. When the shaking stops, go outside, away from buildings, light poles and power lines. And, be ready to hit the deck again in case of an aftershock.
Opinions expressed in The Nevada Sagebrush are solely those of the author and do not necessarily express the views of The Sagebrush or of its staff. Ryan Suppe studies philosophy. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @salsuppe