The Conejo Valley Amateur Radio Club is a not-for-profit international organization of amateur radio enthusiasts. We provide education forums, publications and peer interaction opportunities that enhance the knowledge, skill and professional growth of our members.
Note: CVARC meetings are always held on the third Thursday of the month in the Community Room of the East County Sheriff's Station, 2101 E. Olsen Road, Thousand Oaks, beginning at 7:30. The May Pre-Meeting Dinner is at 5:00 at Dugout Sports Grill, 109 W. Cochran St., Simi Valley. Guests are always welcome.
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Saturday, May 19, is the 2nd Annual “Be Prepared” Safety Fair. The event is being held at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, 2100 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd., from 10:00 to 1:00. There will be booths and displays, safety vehicles and onstage demonstrations. ACS and CVARC will be participating, and I’d like to encourage you to attend. Bring family and friends.
As I mentioned in my first President’s Message, this past January, I became interested in ham radio just a few years ago, while speaking with a friend about disaster preparedness. I was busy putting together earthquake kits for the home and cars, and I was researching the kinds of items that I might want to include, but I hadn’t thought about communications. My friend suggested that I obtain a ham radio license and purchase a handheld radio. It was a brilliant suggestion, and one that I hadn’t even considered.
This is probably not an especially unique story. I’m sure many people, like myself, came to the hobby as they took steps to become more prepared.
But what about the hams who came to the hobby by some other route? Beyond communications, are they prepared?
There are many levels to preparedness. You might never be the “prepper” with the remote bunker and the year supply of canned food, but doing anything is better than doing nothing. When I started researching, I realized that there is so much to think about. I pulled information from books, internet articles and websites, and I watched a lot of YouTube video of people showing off their kits. Of course, the situations I’m likely to encounter might be different than those of the people in the videos. The guy in New York is commuting mostly by public transportation and is thinking about what he would want to have with him in the event of terrorism. I’m almost exclusively in my own vehicle, and more concerned about being able to make it home after an earthquake. Some people are at home in the outdoors. They hunt and fish, and live in an area that makes that possible. In suburban Los Angeles, I should probably make other plans. Still, hearing what other people thought about was very helpful in my own preparation. In that spirit, I offer a few of my own thoughts.
Besides the obvious, earthquakes, there are many events that could require us to manage without utilities, or without being able to replenish food from our local supermarket shelves, or purchase gasoline, or get cash. This might be for just a few days, or perhaps longer. Are you prepared?
For me, the home prep was the easier part. At home I’ll always have a change of clothes, tools and other supplies. Also, there is always some food on-hand, plus toiletries, medications, etc. But these things run out. In an emergency, I wouldn’t want to be low on supplies, so I added a dedicated pantry to store extra food and water, toilet paper, soap, paper plates and plastic utensils, flashlights and batteries, and a little extra cash. These items are kept for emergencies only, although I try to be mindful of expiration dates and eat the food items towards the end of their shelf-life, and then replace them, and rotate batteries in and out. I also purchased a generator, which I intend to convert to run on propane gas, since I always have a few tanks on hand. These extra supplies should, hopefully, see us through until things get back to normal.
The other possible scenario is being away from home, and unable to get home. What if there was an earthquake, and sections of freeway overpasses had fallen, along with trees and powerlines, and you happened to be in Orange County and unable to get home. Would you be prepared? Do you have supplies in your car? Enough for just yourself? What if you had several passengers?
Preparing a kit for the car was more difficult. In short, I made two identical kits (one for each car), each with a backpack and a plastic tub full of essentials. It would take too long to list every item I chose to include, but here’s a short list to give you a sense of what I included: Pouches of water, water purification tablets, an empty water bottle, rations and other food with long shelf-lives, a First Aid kit, toiletries, over-the-counter medications and ointments, toilet paper, flashlights, batteries, matches and lighters, an emergency radio (with solar panel and crank, and a USB outlet), various tools, work gloves, a tarp, emergency bivvy bags, space blankets, paracord, a safety vest, reading glasses, a changes of clothes (including comfortable shoes, and a sweatshirt), and some cash in small bills and coins. I had a 2M/440 50W radio installed in my vehicle and, when we go out in my wife’s car, I try to bring the HT and the cigarette lighter plug. Just like the home kit, the food and batteries should be replaced periodically. Again, if we couldn’t get home or to somewhere safe, and we had to spend the night in our car or in a park somewhere, at least we’d have some things to help keep us comfortable, and hopefully safe and informed until we’re able to make it home.
If you haven’t put together any emergency kits, I hope this serves to inspire you to do so. If you have any questions about the items I selected, or want to see my car kit, don’t hesitate to ask. Preparedness is an important topic, and I love sharing information. The topic will be discussed further at the June club meeting with guest speaker Bill Boyd, Emergency Manager with the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office. Hope to see you there.