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Seven Things You Must Do to Prepare for An Emergency

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[For reasons that should be fairly obvious to most of country (i.e. Hurricane Sandy), I'm going to bump this up. It's probably too late to buy a lot of this stuff now, but maybe you can find and gather it or barter with the community.]

Last weekend San Francisco encountered a huge storm. Prior to that, the news buzzed about how it was the worst storm in more than two years. It was difficult for me to take news of 6-9 inches of rain seriously. I grew up in Boston where there's often a foot of snow at a time. While that storm did not impact me, the threat of an earthquake always looms in San Francisco. We know we need to be ready - both at home and at work - in the case of an emergency.

7 Things You Must Do To Prepare for An Emergency

7 Things You Must Do To Prepare for An Emergency

If you want to succeed at any venture, the first step is to have a plan. Here are some steps we are taking to be prepared:

  • Buy an Emergency Kit - We went out and purchased this one . It has everything that the American Red Cross suggests for two people to live for three days. If you want to really safe, you might want to consider this deluxe version.
  • Buy an Emergency Radio - We haven't pulled the trigger on purchasing a radio yet, but we will soon. I have my eye on this radio. I love that it can be powered simply by cranking a handle. As far as features go, it is weather resistant, can charge a variety of cell phones, has a powerful flashlight, an AM/FM/NOAA/VHF radio, and an emergency siren. If you are on a budget, you might want to consider this radio instead.
  • Buy a Multi-tool - This can be either a Swiss Army knife or a Leatherman-type tool. For less than $10, plus shipping, I like this cheap version" of a Leatherman tool. Like anything else, there's a deluxe version. This one is currently around $65 and seems extremely well-made with many features.
  • Buy Extra Miscellaneous Items - My kit didn't include a way to start a fire; waterproof matches or a lighter should work. I will also look to add the following: paper and pencils, resealable sandwich bags, duct tape, super glue, a sewing kit, and a small compass.
  • Prepare Important Documents and Irreplaceable Items - If you have to evacuate your home in a hurry you'll want to gather a birth certificates, social security cards, house and car deeds, and passports. I would look to have a portable hard drive with any documents that you need.
  • Upload Important Data to the Internet - We will not grab our wedding album - or any pictures in our home for that matter. By having all our pictures uploaded to the Internet, we can retrieve them when the emergency is over. It can't hurt to scan copies of all the documents mentioned above and upload them as well.
  • Have Emergency Cash Available - If there's a true natural disaster, you might find that your credit card and check book aren't accepted. A couple of hundred dollars could go a very long way.


Now that I have a plan, it's simply a matter of execution. Putting all the above supplies together should take only 2-3 hours and less than $200. I have only one problem. Where do we store the final kit? Do we store it in our home and hope that in an earthquake, there is time to grab it and go? Or should we store it in one of our cars? In the later case, we can immediately get out with just our car keys and not have to worry about something collapsing on our heads.

Is there anything that my emergency plan is missing? Where would you store your emergency kit?

Last updated on October 11, 2015.

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48 Responses to “Seven Things You Must Do to Prepare for An Emergency”

  1. Lily says:

    Wow, I totally needed this article. I haven’t thought at all about preparing for emergencies. I live in New York. I thought the worst that could happen here is a blizzard. But a couple of months ago, a tornado (the first one in NYC in 80 years) tore through my neighborhood. I’m okay, but I can’t pretend that NYC is invulnerable any more. But even after the tornado, I didn’t think about an emergency kit at all!

    The First Aid kit you linked to has glowsticks, but I definitely recommend a flashlight with extra batteries. My boyfriend and I bought a tiny one with an extra bright bulb. It would take no room at all to stash it and a pack of AAs.

    Also, I don’t think anyone really needs to have an emergency bunker with canned beans and pallets of water, but it’s probably a good idea to have a couple jugs of water around the house.

  2. Mrs. Micah says:

    I’d keep it somewhere accessible in the house. For one thing, you may be trapped in the house (think flash flood). For another, someone might steal your car if things really got that bad.

  3. guinness416 says:

    I’ve never been in an earthquake. But I was in downtown NYC for both 11th Sept and the big blackout. Some things I learned from those experiences:

    * CASH is king! When you need water, radios, etc from street vendors you need fives and dollars.
    * You may be in your office when an emergency strikes (I was in both cases), in which case the most deluxest kit in the world won’t help if it’s in your bedroom closet; so have some kit at work.
    * Have a pre-arranged plan with the spouse/better half about where to meet the day of or the day after for situations in which the cellphone system melts down. Also, phone cards for public phones are handy when the cellphone won’t work.
    * Keep flat shoes at work! Walking all the way uptown in heels to escape blackouts, floods, whatever is a nightmare! I’m sure I don’t need to tell you this Lazy Man.
    * Know where the torches are kept in your office building and at home.
    * Keep a sense of humour about you. You will look back and laugh at that time you spent all night out on 96th street grilling sausages with a bunch of strangers.

  4. Danny Tsang says:

    The power went out for about 40 hours at my place in SF. I had no radio and a short supply of candles, no land line..Couple of trees and stop signs went down in my area. Overall still manageable, but I definitely need to be prepared for something really big like an earthquake. I like the idea of uploading important stuff to the internet, where it could be backed up etc. Some stores sell emergency hard drives but I don’t see how thats any different than storing file on your computer. Great post!

  5. David says:

    Food and water. Living in CA, as Lazy Man does, we have tons of stored food and stored water in our house in case “the big one” hits and we cannot get out.

    Also, be sure to always keep your gas tank at 1/2 full, because if the power grid goes down, a lot of gas stations will be out as well…

  6. plexluthor says:

    I only know of two people who have actually used a 72-hour kit (thankfully neither I nor my wife have), and both of them recommended keeping it in the car (or at least in the coat-closet nearest the car). Last year my friend’s apartment building caught fire in the middle of the night and the firefighters told everyone to get out of the building. His wife had just organized 72-hour kits for a group of us (if you buy in bulk they cost as little as $10/person for first aid, food, and raingear) and still had their own kit in the trunk of their car. My friend said that even though they had just spent a few days thinking about emergency preparedness and assembling a dozen or so emergency kits, in the heat of the moment (and the middle of the night) they just went on autopilot, grabbed their kids, got in the car, and went to the safety point without going back to the bedroom closet for daytime clothes or grabbing obvious stuff like extra diapers, water bottle, radio, etc.

    At the community location, there were a few items in high demand. Adults can cope with an emergency for 12 or 24 hours; kids, not so much. So children’s snackfoods, children’s socks/shoes, and simple games (e.g., a deck of Uno cards) were the biggest hits. A few other people had emergency kits with stale crackers/fruitsnacks, so don’t forget to refresh your food every year or so (my family eats ours the same day we replace smoke-detector batteries and review our meetup plan, the first weekend in April).

  7. SavingDiva says:

    Wow! plexluthor is really prepared! I don’t even have a flashlight in my apartment! I have a car emergency kit in my trunk (flares, flash light, batteries, blanket, etc), but I don’t have anything in my apartment. Maybe I’ll have to put something together…

  8. Seth says:

    My wife and I have about 20 canned meals (Stew, Think and Chunky Soup ect.) in a drawer in the house. Which is probably enough for good for at least a week maybe two with the rest of the pantry.

    If DC shuts down for a major disaster, three days might not cut it. My guess is by a week or two either we’ll need to leave or things will back to normal

    Another point is at the end of a year, we will donate all the cans to food bank and resupply. We did the purchases near Sept 11 so should be easy to remember. So basically we protect against not having access to food for a week and donate to a food bank.

  9. Lucky says:

    If you start worrying too much about what you need, it may never end. If you start thinking about where to put it, you may also realize that there is no perfect place. The car may get broken into or stolen (then someone else has all of your documents – perfect for identity theft). You can keep it in the basement but what about a terrible flood. The bedroom might be too far into the house and you wont be able to get to it in an emergency. What if you are at work?
    Then you have to factor in Murphy’s law of whatever can go wrong will go wrong. With all of that, just try and be prepared up to a certain point without driving yourself crazy and then hope for the best. You can never be 100% ready for every situation.

  10. Patrick says:

    Great article, Lazy Man. I strongly recommend having a list of all allergies and medications as well. I second the recommendation for having a computer backup of all important files, cash and a leatherman. I love those tools!

  11. Your kit has no water in it. You might be in trouble after a day. How are you on food? Given the nature of earthquakes, I would store it outside the house or at least under a roof that you can physically remove in case it comes down. Head over to equipped.com . He has a lot of good advice including how to make kits.

  12. Lazy Man says:

    Umm, it says it has food and water.

  13. I agree, with earthquakes you get no warning so it’s extra important to always be prepared. We have several hand-crank radios (and flashlights) but I like the radio you’ve linked to with the cell charger. We’ve backed our favorite pictures up online, but we’ve also gotten an external hard drive that we can just grab and go (with thousands of songs, important word processing files, etc.). I’ve also been meaning to scan our important documents and put them on a flash drive that will go into the backpacks we have prepared for emergencies. Finally, I recommend a stash of cash since there’s a good chance electricity will go out and credit cards won’t be accepted. I have some hundreds but mostly 5’s, 10’s and 20’s in my stash.

  14. Foobarista says:

    If you have a yard, especially in California, your e-kit should live outside, in a shed or storage locker. Earthquakes can start fires and otherwise wreck houses. If you live in an apartment, keeping at least a part of your e-kit in the car is probably a good idea.

    We keep our e-kit (MREs, water, first-aid kit, crank radios, etc) in the backyard, along with our camping gear so we can pitch a tent and boil water if we need to.

  15. Web says:

    You may want to consider putting together two or three kits as funding allows. It’s a good idea to keep one kit at home, one in the car, and one at the office as you never know when/where disaster will strike. Case(s) in point: I was caught in an earthquake at my office, snowed in for a week at home, and had an unplanned overnight stay at a motel hours from my home because the freeway was shut down due to flooding.

  16. Tania says:

    We were stuck without electricity for 3 days in July, some people may remember news reports of the bulk carrier the “Pasha Bulka” being washed up on Nobby’s Beach in Newcastle NSW Australia, because of massive storms, and we also had major flooding. My daughters and I learned a lesson during those 3 days and we made what we call our “Mighty Storm Box” in that box we’ve got matches, candles, non perishable food, torch and spare batteries, a battery operated radio, a cell phone charger which uses batteries, and a phone that doesn’t require electricity, just a simple $20 phone from Kmart, our usual phone is cordless with an answering machine so it couldn’t be used while we were without electricity. We also have board games and cards :)

  17. Eric says:

    Good list. I agree about the hand cranked radio. It was indispensable after hurricane Katrina (I’m in MS).

  18. Tim says:

    survival kit should meet: food/water, shelter, fire, signaling, first aid.

    food/water: seasonally and activity level dependent. pack some oral rehydration salts or at the least gatorade.

    shelter: seasonally dependent, but the key is protection from the elements and heat retention.

    fire: purifies, heats, signals, light

    signaling: self explanatory, but also should includes personal identification.

    first aid: most people don’t look through their first aid kit after getting one, so they don’t know what they have or don’t have, and what they actually need. most situations only require simple dressings for cuts and scrapes and personal medications.

    i’d recommend a batteryless flashlight in general, but i would recommend having a headlamp, too. cordage and tape are important. you should have fire extinguishers in your car and also in your house (and know how to use them).

    Where to keep the kit?: your safe room in your house.

  19. jack says:

    i recommend people vacate california. that place is going to fall in the ocean before long…

  20. Michelle says:

    I want to second what david said, about keeping the gas tank half full.

    I lost my home in a tornado. I now have a pretty major emergency kit designed to accomodate a variety of emergencies.

    The single most important item: a flashlight on my keychain. You’re sunk if you don’t know what is going on around you.

    Also, maintaining good health is part of your emergency prep plan. Katrina was very bad news for those in poor health with limited mobility. After the tornado hit my home, my car was covered in power lines and trees, and the street was unpassable. I walked miles that night.

  21. Jon Anderson says:

    I would advise putting your important documents on a flash drive, not a hard drive. You could attach it to your keychain, and it isn’t a big target for theft, unlike the high-value, easily-snatchable hard drive. The last thing you want is a thief getting a copy of all of your most important documents.

  22. annab says:

    I read somewhere that you should include your pet’s shot records with the emergency papers in case you can find a place that will board the pets during the crisis.

    I’d also say have an address list for relatives, etc. So many of us use electronic communications that we don’t have the physical addresses or phone numbers memorized.

    And at the risk of sounding too graphic: if you or anyone in your household is within childbearing age, your emergency kit should contain emergency contraceptives. It’s scary, but catastrophic emergencies really shake the infrastructure and can result in increased crimes, including sexual ones. And you can’t expect that you’ll have quick access to medical attention. You can get this from the gyno or Planned Parenthood. Just my 0.02.

  23. Welmoed Sisson says:

    Another thing to consider keeping on hand is a cache of liquor and cigarettes (even if you don’t drink or smoke). In the event of a protracted emergency, these can be valuable trading commodities.

    After reading the post and comments, I can see I have some work to do.

  24. I used to have one of those crank radios, it didn’t work too well. And, in this day of centralized media, you can’t necessarily count on the local radio stations of being of much help anyway (although during Rita New Orleans’ local all-news radio channel apparently did yeoman services.) I would supplement it with a regular battery-operated radio with a large stock of spare batteries: Sony, Grundig and Sangean make very nice units which run on a few AA-cell batteries.

    Although I lack both these items myself, a cell-phone and laptop are both useful… during Rita, the cell-phone network came back up before the landlines, and there was some internet access available to refugees.

  25. 1stopmom says:

    Thank you so much for the great post. You have really got me thinking. Thanks to all the people who left comments too. I have got tons of ideas of what I am going to pack in my kit. I added a few things too including duct tape.

  26. JD says:

    Great topic and great post. I think Lucky makes a good point that you can never be truly prepared for a disaster and anything can go wrong with getting access or use out of your emergency kit, but that doesn’t mean having one isn’t a good idea.

    A few things to mention:

    1) You should have a good fireproof/floodproof safe (or cabinet) in your house where you can store valuables and important documents. Even if your house falls down the safe will remain intact.

    2) I hate to say it but a great thing to have in an emergency is a gun. I’m not a gun person at all. I don’t own one but when I get married, have a family, and buy a home I think I will and just keep it in a secure location. In a big disaster you don’t know what might happen. People may begin looting, going crazy, whatever.

    3) LazyMan asks a critical question – where do you put the kit? I guess there is no easy answer. I would probably buy multiple kits (or just make them, you can buy all of that stuff separately for around $20 instead of paying $90 for the kit/backpack). I would leave a kit in each car as well as one for each person in the house. I think you should train everyone in your family that if there is an emergency they should grab their kit as part of your evacuation plan. I can’t think of where in the house you should keep them. Should you put them all in one place that seems like a good place (e.g. by the door)? But that might be bad because if that one area of the house is obstructed than all the kits are gone. Should everyone keep their kits in their rooms? Probably not a good idea for quick access in an emergency. So I don’t know. I guess you have to make up one primary evacuation plan and whatever that is put it by that door.

    4) Cash is definitely king. I would keep at least a couple of thousand dollars in $20s in a secure place. Maybe your car, maybe your emergency kit, I don’t really know.

    5) After you know you have the basic neccessities like food, water and first aid for your family the next two critical things are probably a form of communication and transportation. I love the idea of the emergency radio with hand crank and cell phone charger. Who knows if cell phones will even work. I live in Manhattan and during 9/11 I couldn’t make a single call on my cellphone.

    6) IDENTIFICATION. During any disaster make sure to have your ID on you.

    7) The main thing I think is to have a game plan for your entire family. It should be simple in the sense that it can work under a variety of scenarios. For instance it is good to have a central contact person who is geographically far away. If you live in NYC and have a relative in the midwest, let everyone in your family know that in the event of an emergency if they are separated and can’t contact each other they should contact that relative. And that relative can coordinate a place for everyone to meet. Picking a pre-arranged spot isn’t too helpful given you will never know what areas will be reachable.

  27. Candace says:

    This is a great article.
    So much to think about and all the replies are very informative as well.
    I thought that we were prepared, but I can see we need to think about a few more items.
    I will bookmark this so I have a list to double check when I add to our disaster kit.

  28. Ginny says:

    I don’t think I saw these mentioned:

    Your old eyeglasses (better than nothing!)

    Copies of drug prescriptions

    Always have a picture of each family member (including pets) on you, in case you need to make a “missing” poster.

    Quarters (phone cards may do you no good if computer networks are down.) There aren’t many pay phones around but they may be all that’s working.

    Designate one out of state contact each family member should call to say they are ok, and so you can locate each other. Make sure your children know this number.

  29. Mule Skinner says:

    I think you must consider the possibilities for where you live. In my case, I must prepare for tornadoes and the possibility of a winter power outage, but we don’t get earthquakes or hurricanes.

  30. Brian says:

    And you should get inventoryBuilder to store you documents and to have all your inventory


  31. MoneyEnergy says:

    Great topic, a perennial favorite of mine! (emergency nerd?). I would keep one for the car, one for the house. Perhaps a smaller one for the car. mrs.Micah’s point is a good one, that someone might steal the car (but this could happen anwyay). You could also add stocking up on food supplies in case you have to remain inside.

  32. Two Dozen says:

    They are called “bug out bags”, 72 hour kits or zombie squad bags. They can be as small as Altoid cans (an interesting evening researching this) all the way up to Burt in the movie “Tremors”

    Try searching it and you will find that everybody wants to survive in a different way

    And you should have more than one. Every car you own should have one

    Crowbars, come a longs, chains, catfood, crapping paper, can’t get wet, can’t get cold, can’t get my stuff,cut off gas line, cut down trees, curry cooker, carry water,
    call somebody, cash for stuff, coins for candy, cellphone charging, can’t forget kids stuff, clothes for the season, crank up lights,
    cars full of gas, come on, lets haul ass

  33. I have heard it is a good idea to store copies of all your important documents in a place other than the area you live in. Perhaps someone on the East Coast could send copies of their family’s birth certificates, S.S. cards, home deed, car titles, etc. to Uncle George’s family out on the West Coast and vice verse. The idea of putting everything on a jump drive might also be a good idea as a back up. These document copies and jump drive would, of course, be kept under lock and key in a fire safe somewhere.

  34. Random thoughts:

    – I definitely wouldn’t store personal documents and such in the car, for fear of theft.

    – We store our documents in a fireproof, but unlocked, safe. Why unlocked? So that a thief can sift through the contents, take any money, and hopefully leave the rest of the contents behind. That option is better than the thief taking the entire safe and cracking it open later, offsite.

    – I like Welmoed’s idea about booze and cigarettes. A carton of Marlboro’s might be very valuable in trade.

    – Do a dry run. We evac’ed a couple of years ago due to a flood. There wasn’t a lot of danger of the flood reaching our house (although it decimated other areas of town) but we worried about the water supply and electricity, since a city to the north had to fight valiantly to protect their water supply. With a 9 month old, we didn’t want to risk it. It took far too longer to evacuate.

    About a year ago, we had a false alarm on the natural gas alarm. Again, it took far to long to get out (although not as long as with the flood). It may be necessary to reinforce the concept of “get the hell out” with family members.

  35. Great ideas! I wanted to add that portable gas stoves are good to have. You can buy them for under $10 at any Asian grocery store along with the cans of gas to run it.

  36. Karlie says:

    What about some way to cook all that food you have? I know a lot of people have canned soups and that kind of thing- has anyone considered a little propane stove? There are little ones that go for 15-20 dollars that use the small $2 cans of propane (they may be more or less depending on what time of year you get them…). I have one and it is a lifesaver! And as an added bonus you can use it for camping too!

  37. valletta says:

    A tip to store your emergency kit at home:
    Keep it all in a rubbermaid garbage can with lid (and preferably bottom rollers)
    Can be grabbed easily and moved, protected from rain. critters, etc.

  38. Emily says:

    I think you want to keep an emergency kit in both your house and your car. They also make emergency kits in a “sardine can” and I’m thinking about purchasing one to keep in my purse. I recently had a mishap where I wished I had something in the car or on my person(read the story here: http://musingsofasinglegal.blogspot.com/2010/01/survival-of-fittest.html).
    I’d also recommend having some sort of emergency supplies at work. This doesn’t need to come out of your pocket, but it might be worth mentioning something to your boss.
    If you have pets it is a good idea to add emergency pet food or a full emergency pet kit to the list of supplies that you want to have on hand.
    Finally, in some types of natural disasters all communications systems may be lost (ie. phones, internet, etc.) it is a good idea to have a plan for meeting and getting in touch with certain friends and family to let them know you are ok.

  39. Marlyn Rosent says:

    I used to teach our Scouts.We used to go out on survival weekends & one very looong week in ‘the sticks’ each year.

    1)When assembling your kit you should realize MOST truly irreplaceable items are ruined by mud & water. An inexpensive vacuum sealer protects any irreplaceable documents, etc.that can be damaged by wet/damp(the kind you use for food).

    2)Loosely seal your cellphone! It works in the bag just fine + acts as a GPS locator! Have a copy of a quality survival manual (Go Scouts!) because everyone forgets something when it all goes to hell.

    3)Mortgage deeds, stock certificates,car titles etc belong in [waterproof]safety with copies at home for reference. Use those as-on-TV vacuum seal larger bags for clothing/foodstuffs you may need to exist. Just having flour, salt, yeast, ramen noodles, dried beans and soup base means you can survive a LONG time on what fits in one vacu-pak. In storm season we have one ready to go 24/7. I have a waterproof bag to put my laptop in just in case I have to evacuate in water.

    All this fits into a single waterproof case light enough for 1 or 2 to carry or tow. It’s tied with a length of rope which makes carrying & towing easy + doubles later for many uses

    4)I learned to make a simple survival kit out of a pair of sturdy but worn out shorts with pockets. I cut out the ‘seat’, sewed on more pockets & made tie-on straps & waterproofed the kit. It has lots of small pouches to carry the vitals: a length of nylon fishing line (9lb test) Plain dental floss works great, too but take it out of the container to save space. 1 good quality multipurpose Swiss army or Boy Scout knife (don’t skimp on this! Cheap don’t last). Fishing hooks in ass’t sizes. Ass’t needles. On a 1″ thin dowel rod wind 10-15’of cotton thread.(can be used for sewing wounds in an emergency).

    5)Coil a length of sawing wire – you can attach sticks for handles & saw branches & even thin trees. In a small medicine bottle stuff cotton balls soaked in petroleum jelly – they start fires incredibly well even if the kindling is wet. Waterproof matches are nice but carry a small magnifying glass to use the sun to start fires. Once you have a fire you always feel better because you have heat, light, safety & can cook (empty pop cans heat water really fast. I always have a small quality hatchet ready to go in case we have to escape.

    All of the above fits neatly into my lovely apron-survival kit which is only 10″ wide & wraps 3/4 around the person. It weighs less than 3 lbs.

    Each of us has a heavy duty survival knife for our belts.

    6)I backup data only online – not programs. Who needs the whole computer OS saved? I use Mozy.com which is free.

    7)I stopped using battery operated flashlights years ago. Invariably the battery was dead, couldn’t find one etc. Now I have sets of those shake-to-charge lights in both cars + on every floor of the house in easy reach.

    8)In emergency am/fm/weather radio that runs by solar,hand cranking AND rechargable batteries is a must. I’ve seen great ones for under 50 bucks – and even a mini one for 29.95 @ Radio Shack. These can recharge your cellphone, IPOD etc – but make sure you have the right cord taped to the radio! We have one in the house & one in our escape vehicle (which is ALWAYS kept filled with gas)

    9)Lots of people by water in those small bottles. Sorry, NOT enough. I save plastic gallon & 1/2 gallon jugs, sterilize them & put boiled water with 1/2 tsp chlorine bleach per quart to retard bacteria. I dip the tops in liquid paraffin to seal out all air. I keep 15 gallons of potable water on hand at all times in a place above any foreseeable flood water.

    10)In your first aid kit go mostly squares of clean cotton cloths (old t-shirts – these can be reused vs gauze), neosporin cream (watch the expiration dates) & small bar (hotel)Soap (best for small wounds)and water purification tabs.

    11)One of THE most important thing people forget is to keep ALL their daily life sustaining meds (I also include Tylenol, Motrin, antibacterial creams etc)in a waterproof container so you can grab all your meds in a flash. As an RN I can tell you horror stories about people who had to go without vital meds and died before they could get new scripts.

    12)Put a short medical bio in this container with diagnoses, doctors names, etc. Make sure you carry ID on your person as well. Bodies after a week are hard to I.D.

    FYI – we practice every other month or two with a mock drill to see how fast we can get everything loaded in the SUV or down to the basement where we installed a sturdy tornado shelter. (We’re down to under 10 min) In winter we keep blankets, food bars, water, radios, foil insulators & shovels in both vehicles all the time in case of being stranded.

    This may seem like a lot but once you get organized all you need to do is rotate your food stuffs and meds.

  40. Jinxed says:

    I’ve been in many earthquakes, been evac’d due to fires, been through typhoons and severe storms, and played the “what if?” game. What I’ve learned:

    PUT AN “ICE” CONTACT IN YOUR PHONE NOW! I’ll wait… ICE is “In Case of Emergency”. It is the first thing a first responder will look for on your phone. Your SO, parents, boss, neighbor, doctor, WHOEVER you want to know you have been hurt! DO THIS NOW!!!

    Keep crates/boxes/travel cages with food for your pets. I keep a pillowcase near my snake’s cage in case we need to bug out, and a travel cage and net are by my birdcage. My friends who may come to my house if I’m out of town also know where these things are!

    Keep extra copies of important papers (marriage and birth certs, car pinks, insurance forms, medical info, out of town or state contact info) in one bag, ready to grab and go. A fire proof safe may not be enough, especially if the house collapses and you can’t get in to get it!

    Don’t forget your meds! Many newer phones have great programs where you can enter all the medical data you need. The prescribing doctor, pharmacy number, prescription number, even your vision info! If you have to escape so quickly that you can’t grab them, the data on the phone means you can get an emergency refill once you are in a safe place.

    We keep shoes and flashlights next to our bed, and I ALWAYS keep the last pair of glasses before my newest in a place I can grab them. Imagine a large eq shaking your bed table. Do you think your glasses will still be there? LOL! Not so much!

    Also, if an eq hits and you are in bed, STAY THERE! Walking during a large quake is dangerous and difficult. In bed, you have pillows and are covered. In a doorway, well, the biggest danger is from – THE DOOR!

    My mother says she NEVER lets her gas tank get under 1/2 a tank. If there were an emergency, she’d have enough gas to get away or have heat/cool, etc. I try to do this as well. With the Prius, we don’t worry as much, as it CAN run on battery only for a bit, but it’s still best to have the gas!

    Water is the main worry after a disaster. Food can be easy, as most American pantries are overstocked with cans. Where I live, we can solar cook in our cars, but we also have a propane grill now. And I know how to make a solar still and can open the hydrants on our street. Pool water is great for making a toilet flush….

    When there is extreme weather in your area as a regular thing, check your yard and house. Is rain runoff bringing down mud? Is a window open or roof leaking? Being aware of little changes in your surroundings can save your life!

    Also being prepared and able to help friends is nice. We have a bugout tree among us, as one place may be evacuated due to fire, but 10 miles away is perfectly safe. So we are all able and willing to go and provide extra hands/cars/storage room for one who may have to run quick.

    If there is a storm warning or fire in your neighborhood, let your boss know you may need to leave at a moment’s notice on that day. In SoCal, most evacs are over in a day or two unless, as was the case a few years ago, there are a LOT of fires being fought!

    Enjoy your evac time! It can be a peaceful time to think. After the 94 eq, we had the BEST view of the night sky, and enjoyed sitting and bonding with neighbors in the midst of it all. As long as you aren’t injured, and your basic needs are met, you are doing GREAT! (I still have my earthquake bear. Just a stuffed bear I could hug when aftershocks came or I felt nervous. Take care of your mental and emotional health too!)

  41. Karen says:

    Your site is amazing…and I have really enjoyed reading your articles, and the articles of your readers. Thank you to all for all this great information.

  42. Colleen says:

    Everyone needs to wake up and def. get an emergency bag packed. I have one in the car one in the basement and another in my bedroom. It does not cost alot of money like everyone thinks it does. I thankfully work from home so I do not have to have one at an office, but would if i had to. I have been watching the news fox, cnbc and cnn they have all said we are going to need at least one years worth of food put back. No you cant put that much in your car but you can have some for a couple of weeks. Put things that do not have to be cooked. Canned goods are the best. Make sure you have some medical supplies in each kit just in case. You will be able to go back home at some point but you might be away for at least a couple of weeks. Make sure you know where your dogs leashes are in case of an emergency. If you are not at home make sure you have some dry food in a bowl before you leave each and every time. You will get back to your home. Try not to panic. Keep calm and think straight. I do have a compass to help me just in case of a tornado. It would probably take out street signs and of course any buildings that might help you find your way home. make sure you know how to work it and find out where you are in different directions.

  43. yayang says:

    This is a nice topic especially now that most countries are suffering from earthquake, floods and other natural disaster. I just want to add that we must always charge our cellphone in full especially if there are typhoons and other natural disaster and don’t forget to bring it. I remember one of the news that I saw on national T.V. that a guy was under the house when the landslide occurred and luckily he brought his cellphone with him. He was alone and he texted his mother that he is under the house and he is still alive. Her mother told the rescuers that his son was buried and still alive and they were able to rescue him. I also visit a site where I got some handy office first aid signs and posters for free – http://www.alscofirstaid.com.au/first-aid-signs.html

  44. Do people really spend couple hundred dollars in case of an emergency? I would guess if you are living in the area of frequent hurricanes or earthquakes then it might makes sense.

  45. Nice checklist. I would also add having sump pumps with backups and having sump pump insurance. I was nailed in Hurricane Sandy and thank goodness I had this coverage as my sump pumps could not operate without electricity. I now have them set up with a backup if the power goes out.

  46. Brandy Kelly says:

    Don’t forget some no-cook food and flashlights. I think you need two kits, one in the house and one in the trunk of your car. The thumb drive idea is great! Thanks. There is a good video by Jerry Robinson about preparing a go-bag, also.

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