Injuries resulting from falling meteorites sounds like scene out of a science fiction movie. But as we all learned on February 19, 2013, truth can be stranger than fiction. According to Reuters,
“Residents of Chelyabinsk, an industrial city 1,500 km (950 miles) east of Moscow, heard an explosion, saw a bright light and then felt a shockwave that blew out windows and damaged the walls and roof of a zinc plant.” At least 1,200 were injured. NASA estimates the meteor was 55 feet across before entering Earth’s atmosphere and weighed about 10,000 tons. Sounds like Chicken Little might have had a point, after all.
How much of a threat do meteorites pose? When an asteroid the size of the White House made a record close pass by earth on the same day that the meteor exploded over Russia, scientists labeled the dual event “Freaky Friday,” citing 100 million-to-1 odds. “We would expect an event of this magnitude to occur once every 100 years on average,” said Paul Chodas of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
As with any other type of emergency, the best way to respond during and recover following any asteroid-related event is to prepare. Since falling meteorites are possible, if not inevitable, we thought it worthwhile to provide you with tips to help you prepare. After all, planning for a falling asteroids isn’t much different from planning for a disaster of any kind. Just remember to Get a Kit, Make a Plan, and Be Informed:
Get a Kit
As with any emergency, the first step in preparation is to put together an emergency preparedness kit or “go bag.” Although you might want to add a hard hat to protect yourself from falling debris, most disaster kits include the same basic items, each of which should be placed into an easy-to-carry kit for use at home or to take with you if you need to evacuate:
- Water—one gallon per person, per day (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for use at home.)
- Food—nonperishable items (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for use at home) I recommend turkey jerky.
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Battery-powered or hand-crank radio (A NOAA-Weather Radio is recommended.)
- First aid kit and medications (including OTC and prescriptions)
- Multipurpose tool
- Personal hygiene items
- Hand sanitizer
- Copies of personal documents (medication requirements, pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates and insurance policies, family and emergency contact information) I don’t have many personal documents. But if I did, I’d make sure to get copies for my “Go Bag.”
- Cell phone with chargers so you can text your friends when you find meteorite particles you want to post on ebay.
- Map(s) of the immediate area so you know where the largest chunks of debris fell.
- Medical supplies
- Baby supplies (bottles, formula, baby food, diapers)
- Games and activities for children
- Pet supplies (collar, leash, ID, food, carrier, bowl, etc.) This category is extremely important…especially if you have a dog.
- Extra set of car keys, house or doghouse keys
- Can opener (again…another VERY important item to include…so you can open the dogfood.)
- Whistle to alert others if you or any of your family members or coworkers are injured or to call your favorite canine
- N95 or surgical masks in case of environmental pathogens (or cats…they stink!)
- Rain gear and plastic sheeting to keep dry
- Towels, which can be used for bedding, to wipe up messes and as bandages or tourniquets
- Work gloves
- Extra clothing, hat and sturdy shoes
- Duct tape (because duct tape works for anything!)
- Scissors Household bleach
- Blankets or sleeping bags
Make a Plan
- Make sure you have a plan for contacting family and friends if any emergency strikes.
- Develop an evacuation plan and practice it so you will be able to move quickly.
- Decide how you and loved ones will connect in case communication and transportation are compromised.
To make sure you are updated about disasters, tune to emergency radio stations and sign up for mobile-phone updates. If your television is working, watch the news. If you can howl, spread news through the Twilight Bark.
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