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Getting ready, one step at a time

We all know the natural reaction to contemplating a major project — put it off. When that project is to prepare your home and family for a major disaster that might happen tomorrow but also might happen in 50 years, it makes it that much harder to summon a sense of urgency to overcome the natural inertia.

The city of Medford’s emergency management office may have an answer. It’s called Do One Thing — and it really is just that simple.

We’ve all heard about The Big One — the Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake that seismologists say is statistically likely to happen in the next 50 years. We also know, on some level, that we should get ready in case it happens sooner rather than later.

But the sheer scope of the preparation, driven by the possibility of a quake that could reach magnitude 9, is enough to paralyze anyone. We’re not talking days of food and water, we’re talking months, even years.

But a massive earthquake is not the only disaster we should prepare for. A smaller quake could occur, or a raging wildfire that forces evacuations, such as the ones in Northern California last year. If a disaster like that strikes, any preparation at all will be better than none.

One way to make the task less daunting is to break it down into manageable pieces. That’s where Do One Thing gets its name. It’s a national nonprofit effort to build resilient communities. Learn more at do1thing.com.

Participants who are already involved — 50 to 60 individuals and a dozen faith-based organizations and nonprofit agencies — spent January making a plan, and purchased and stored two weeks’ worth of drinking water in February. Those are goals that are easy to accomplish in a month’s time.

Future months will involve identifying shelter locations, preparing a “go bag” to keep ready at all times, and stockpiling emergency food supplies.

If the prospect of a mega-quake doesn’t move you — after all, a 2-in-5 chance it will happen also means a 3-in-5 chance it won’t — the specter of a firestorm such as the one that leveled Paradise, California, and parts of Redding ought to provide some motivation.

Don’t feel that you’ve missed out by not joining the first group to sign on. Go to readymedford.org, and follow the Facebook pages for Medford Fire-Rescue and the city of Medford.