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How to Prepare Your Family for an Earthquake

How to Prepare Your Family for an Earthquake Last Friday night we were rockin’ and rollin’ in Orange County with a 5.1 trembler that inspired this how to prepare your family for an earthquake post.

We moved back to Southern California when I was ten-years-old and I remember experiencing an earthquake for the first time fairly soon thereafter. The vision of our patio furniture bouncing up and down is one that stays with me.

Growing up here, I remember earthquakes happening somewhat frequently. But the earth has been fairly quiet the last 20 years since the Northridge quake of 1994. In fact, I don’t remember having many earthquakes as an adult. Do you?

Last Friday night was a reminder we DO live in Earthquake country, and it was a wake up call to me, and many others on Facebook that we need to be prepared! Now more than ever, especially since we have children.

I did some research on RedCross and found some info on how to prepare your family for an earthquake that I wanted to share with you.

How to Prepare Your Family for an Earthquake 

Here are three great things I learned on the Red Cross site,

1. Pick safe places in each room of your home, workplace and/or school. A safe place could be under a piece of furniture or against an interior wall away from windows, bookcases or tall furniture that could fall on you.

2. Practice “drop, cover and hold on” in each safe place. If you do not have sturdy furniture to hold on to, sit on the floor next to an interior wall and cover your head and neck with your arms.

3. Keep a flashlight and sturdy shoes by each person’s bed in case the earthquake strikes in the middle of the night.

What to Do During an Earthquake

On Friday night I immediately got under a doorway because that is what I thought you were supposed to do.

However, according to the Red Cross,

“Doorways are no stronger than any other part of a structure so don’t rely on them for protection! During an earthquake, get under a sturdy piece of furniture and hold on. It will help shelter you from falling objects that could injure you during an earthquake.”

Here are some other tips what to do during an earthquake:

1. Drop, cover and hold on. Move as little as possible.

2. If you are in bed, stay there, curl up and hold on. Protect your head with a pillow.

3. Stay away from windows to avoid being injured by shattered glass.

Good to know. I had never even had a conversation with my kids about what to do during an earthquake at home before!

Emergency Survival Kit Essentials 

You can find a full list of things to have on hand if an earthquake disaster were to strike, but here are some of the essentials Red Cross recommends having at the very minimum in a survival kit:

1. Water – one gallon per person, per day (2 week supply for home)
2. Food – non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items (2 week supply for home)
3. Flashlight
4. Battery-powered radio
5. Extra batteries
6. First aid kit
7. Medications and prescriptions for family members
8. Multi-purpose tool
9. Sanitation/personal hygiene items
10. Copies of personal documents
11. Cell phone with charger
12. Family and emergency contact information
13. Extra cash
14. Emergency blanket
15. Map of the area

I am hoping we will not have to use any of these tips, but it is better to be ready, and prepare our kids just in case.

All information taken from the website. Does anyone else have any information you would like to share on how to prepare your family for an earthquake?

An Easy Way to Teach Kids Their Phone Number

I have discovered an easy way to teach kids their phone number and I wanted to share it with you today.

It’s always been important for both of my kiddos learn how to recite important identifying numbers early in  life, particularily their phone numbers and address for their safety.

Just think – in an emergency, does your child know their phone number?

Now days, most people I know (myself included) operate with their cell phones, and very few seem to have the archaic “landline” anymore, so you have to determine the best number to teach them first.

Mine?  Daddy’s?  I chose my cell phone first…because…well, I’m mommy.

Sing a Song with M-I-C-K-E-Y

Now for the simple part.  Sing a song.  And not just any song…but the old school Mickey Mouse Club March.  Need a refresher on how that goes? Watch it with your kids here…

So here goes a sample verse:

“M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E
Hey! there, Hi! there, Ho! there
You’re as welcome as can be
M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E”

Okay, now that you have that tune in your head (and it might stay there), adjust the following lyrics to:

(Put your 10 digit phone number, including your area code, in for the “M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E” part)

“1-1-1(pause) 1-1-1(pause) 1-1-1-1 (hold out this number for two syllables to make it fit within the tune)

Mommy’s phone, mommy’s phone
Whenever you need help, call mommy’s phone!”

A little cheesy, I know, but it WORKS!

Like with any new concept, your kiddo is probably not going to pick up on it immediately.  Practice it every day with just ONE phone number. They will get it. Now I quiz my five-year-old at random times and have her recite it.

After a few months of practicing it every day (just to make sure it was drilled into her memory), we practiced her daddy’s number.  She now knows both without blinking an eye.

Note:  If your cell phone has a password protected lock screen, keep in mind that you’ll have to teach them that passcode too!  What if they have to grab your phone and dial 9-1-1 on their own?  Make sure they know how to use your cell phone, just in case.

Do you have any tips or tricks to share?  Any song(s) that work better?  How did you teach your child their phone number?  Please share below!

 Photo Credit:  photo©2013 Prepayasyougo, Flickr

Lil Swimmers, Inc. – OC Swim Lessons for Kids

Isn’t it great when your kids try something new and love it? That was my experience when one of our Sponsors, Lil Swimmers, Inc., a company specializing in South OC swim lessons for kidsinvited my little ones to try a lesson in Laguna Niguel. They are also offering Tiny Oranges readers a free trial swim lesson as well, details below!

My daughter Georgia is 4 years old and has never taken a swim lesson before (I know, I’m a little late to the party, but please don’t judge!). So, when I pulled up to Michelle’s home to take our first swim lesson I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect.

Luckily, Michelle, the owner and instructor of Lil Swimmers, Inc. was patient and caring with my newbie and helped get her acclimated with the water.

Within 15 minutes she was floating unassisted. Disclaimer: she was probably floating on her own for only a couple of seconds, but I was still wildly impressed!

After my lesson I asked Michelle a few questions that I thought would be helpful for anyone looking for a great place to take their kids in South OC for swim lessons.

Interview with Owner/Swim Instructor,
Michelle of Lil Swimmers  

I see from your website FAQ’s that the Red Cross suggests starting lessons no earlier than 6 months. What age do you recommend parents start swim lessons? Do you have a favorite age to teach?

The Red Cross suggests 6 months, but at that age the class is a parent and me class, it’s all about getting comfortable in the water and educating parents on ways to hold their children in the water to help facilitate future learning.  It’s a fantastic building block but by no means required. 

The real learning to swim without assistance takes place around 15-18 months.

For any family with a pool or water on their property, I strongly suggest starting swim lessons by this age.  Having a pool at my home, my own kids were in the water as early as 4 months and safe enough for me to sit on the edge and watch them play by 18 to 20 months.

My favorite age is probably 18-24 months; they’re so cute and their personalities are really forming. Even though they are still so young, they are also very capable. And I just love their little voices!

Older children are great for different reasons; with the big kids I’m able to explain things to them and know that they’re getting it. I love seeing the quick progress of their strokes and observing the bonds formed with fellow swimmers.

You offer both private and group lessons, what would you say are the benefits and challenges (if any) to both options?

Private lessons are great because the child learns quicker, but they are expensive.  And the child doesn’t get to watch and learn from a peer.  They also don’t get to play as much when they are by themselves.  What’s great, is that our semi private lessons only have 2 children sharing 30 minutes.  I feel parents get the best of both worlds!

What can parents do to help their kids learn to love and respect the water?

Start at bath time, don’t be shy about getting your child’s face wet in the bath.  One of the biggest challenges instructors face with new students is that the child doesn’t like to get their faces wet.

The more comfortable they are with this simple step, the better.  Another easy thing parents can do is to discuss the lessons and the instructor in a positive way. Hearing how proud their parents are, really encourages the kids.

What made you want to become a swim instructor?

I became a swim instructor because of my love of the outdoors, the water, and kids.

When my husband and I moved into our home, I was not working.  He encouraged me to find something that I could be passionate about instead of just looking for available jobs.  He kept telling me to do what I love instead of looking for a position to fill. 

As a child, I lived in the water.  We had a pool and water skied as a family.  Teaching lessons started out as more of a hobby.  Luckily, I was good at it and really enjoyed the kids and their families.  Once I had my own kids, I had a better understanding of the importance of water safety and the service that I was providing.  I have made great friends with many of the parents that I’ve met.  I feel so fortunate to have my work.

I love that answer! There’s nothing better than making a living at something you love. Kudos to your husband for being so encouraging. Okay, last question. I love the calm, balanced approach you have to teaching kids to swim. Do you have any go to tricks you use if the child is struggling with nerves in the water?

For any kids struggling with nerves, be calm and consistent.  They need to feel secure, and I do that by using gentle words and by holding them in a way that makes them feel that you are in control and that you will take care of them.

Often, I see instructors try to make the kids happy by trying to make them laugh or distract them.  I don’t think that is the right approach.  They are terrified for their lives and it should be acknowledged.  They need to know that the person in charge is confident and trustworthy.

Our instructors tell the children exactly what’s going to happen and when, so that the child quickly learns what the expectations are.  There are no surprises. Once they are comfortable, then everyone has more fun!

Michelle, thanks so much for your sharing your answers with us. I’ve learned a lot about your teaching style and I think our readers have too.

Free Trial for Tiny Oranges Readers

Now for the best part. Michelle has generously offered all Tiny Oranges readers a free trial swim lesson at Lil Swimmers if you call now through June 30th, 2013 and mention this post!

South Orange County Swim Lessons
Laguna Niguel


Michelle Coulston
oclilswimmers {at}

[Disclosure: Lil Swimmers, Inc. is a Tiny Oranges Sponsor and I received a complimentary lesson to facilitate this review. All opinions are my own!]

Safety 1st Squad Childproofing Giveaway!

Last month I was contacted by Safety 1st Squad to see if I was interested in meeting with them to learn more about the benefits of professional childproofing.   The timing couldn’t have been better, as I have a newly crawling/exploring/ into everything baby, so I almost jumped through the computer yelling “YES PLEASE!”  Make sure to read the last paragraph below on how you can enter to win a free in-home consultation too!

So, they set up a meeting with Kimberlee Mitchell, childproofing expert, local OC mommy of two, and founder of Boo Boo Busters, which is now Safety 1st Squad to come to my home and give me a complimentary consultation.

Let’s face it, discussing safety hazards for your children and babies is not a pleasant topic as for most moms it is probably our biggest nightmare.  To  be honest, I was sort of nervous she would come into my home and point out death traps behind every corner.

However, I was pleasantly surprised because she was “so NOT scary!” and I told her so!  Kimberlee shared with me that their goal is to empower parents with education, not scare tactics, and every employee of theirs is trained accordingly.  Instead of walking away feeling scared, I left feeling MORE sure of my ability to keep my baby safe.

The professional difference.

I have babyproofed before, so this is not entirely new to me.  I have an almost 4 year old, and we did it ourselves the first time, sort of winging it as we went along.   This time around, with a baby AND an older sibling it is a whole new scenario.   Actually scarier to me , much scarier, now that big sis has toys that are not baby-friendly. It’s a way more vulnerable feeling.  As we walked though our home, she pointed out things I would have NEVER thought of. Not just for our baby, but for my oldest too.

With their service, they will walk through your home, point out potential hazards, suggest solutions and provide you with the option to purchase professional grade childproofing items. You can then DIY or hire them to install, you have the choice depending on your budget.

What’s the difference with professional products?  Well, with most things in life, you get what you pay for.  With a professional safety device (i.e. locks, latches, gates, etc.) you will get better longevity and usually a “prettier” more esthetically-pleasing product, but you will pay a little more.  Plus, with a professional install, you know it is done right!

Case in point, we bought this (pretty inexpensive) baby gate for my first baby. Hard to open, narrow opening, not convenient.   We used it for a LONG time, and here we are again, pulling it out of the garage for baby # 2.  So, seriously with two kids, there is probably 3 -4 YEARS of use involved.   And, I dislike it as much as I did the first go round!  I seriously wished we had forked out the money and gotten a professional gate from the get-go.   Here is Kimberlee talking about the difference of a professional quality baby gate (and demonstrating on mine!)

Kimberlee had so much to share with me and I learned so much, too much to share in one post, but if there was one important safety hazard I had to pick to share, it would have to be the potential dangers of  front loading washer/dryers.

Do you remember that story of the little girl who died not long ago in Mission Viejo in a front loading machine by accident? Click here to read the article. Horrendous, unfathomable story.   May this tragic loss be a wake up call to all of us, to get a latch and lock the front loaders ASAP.  This Safety 1st ProGrade Front-Load Washer/Dryer Lock is only $16.99.  I installed it the same day I met with Kimberlee.

Take away point, childproofing is much more than installing latches, gates and outlet guards. It’s about looking at your home with a new set of eyes and professional consultations are more affordable than you might think!   Let me tell you, the peace of mind you get after having a childproofing pro comb through your home for potential safety hazards is priceless!  You’d be surprised at what they find – better they find it instead of your baby!

Hooray! It’s a Tiny Giveaway!

Safety 1st Squad Professional Home Childproofing Service is giving away a FREE one hour in-home child safety consultation (a $75 value) to one lucky reader (contest open to Orange County and Los Angeles residents only.)

After the consultation, the winner will be presented with a detailed list of recommended safety devices to eliminate your home’s specific child safety hazards.  You will then have the option to take their expert advice and DIY (do-it-yourself to save some cash) – OR – you can Let the Safety Pros Take Charge and schedule Safety 1st Squad to return to your home for the professional installation at an additional cost, if desired.  Totally optional!

Here are the entry options, please leave a separate comment for each one!

1. Simply comment below and tell me one of your home safety concerns – 1 ENTRY

2. Visit Kimberlee’s Safety Blog and tell me something you learned! – 1 ENTRY

3. Follow @Safety1st_Squad on Twitter – 1 ENTRY

4. Follow @TinyOrangesOC on Twitter – 1 ENTRY

5. Subscribe to Tiny Oranges emails (top right column) – 1 ENTRY

And, to stay abreast of safety info, become a Fan of Safety 1st Squad on Facebook!

Good luck, contest will run all week, have your entries in by 5pm PST on 4/20/2010!

{Disclosure: I received the consultation free of charge and received a small amount of childproofing products as well including Safety 1st sliding outlet covers, toilet lock, front load washer/dryer lock, and a top of door lock.}

Are you ready?


Can you even believe the weather this week??  I can’t remember the last time it rained this hard in Orange County.   My patio furniture was knocked over, rain started pouring in a leak in our sliding glass door, and I was afraid the tree in the neighbor’s yard was going to end up splitting in two and landing on our roof.   It didn’t. Nothing like a little weather to freak out us OC residents, huh?! We are not cut out for this!

There was actually a tornado warning in my area.  Tornadoes?!   What on earth? My girlfriend sent me an email from South County wanting to make sure our house was still standing.  I told her it was.  Then she suggested an emergency preparedness post. Awesome idea!  Thanks Melanie!

So, I hopped on over to to find some info.

{If you head on over there, consider making a donation to the Red Cross Haiti relief efforts.    And, just so you know, you can also text “HAITI” to 90999 and $10 will be donated to the Haiti relief fund.}

In any case, here is a great PDF you can download with easy information on how you can prepare your family just in case.  No time like the present.  Click HERE to download it.  You can also Click HERE for emergency fast facts.

Stay dry out there and be safe!