Tag Archives: disaster

Disaster preparation part 3 – Build a kit

disaster kit

Have a kit for home and backpack kits for each family member.

So you know your hazards, prepared your property, and made a plan.

Experts recommend that you should be prepared to be self-sufficient for at least 3 days, and up to 2 weeks. Store your household disaster kit in an easily accessible location.  Put contents in a large, watertight container (e.g. a large plastic garbage can with a lid and wheels) that you can move easily. 

Your basic household disaster kit should include:

  • Water – one gallon per person per day.
  •  Food – ready to eat or requiring minimal water.
  • Manual can opener and other cooking supplies.
  • Plates, utensils and other feeding supplies.
  • First Aid kit & instructionns.
  • A copy of important documents & phone numbers
  • Warm clothes and rain gear for each family member.
  • Heavy work gloves
  •  Disposable camera
  •  Unscented liquid household bleach and an eyedropper for water purification
  • Personal hygiene items including toilet paper, feminine supplies, hand sanitizer and soap
  •  Plastic sheeting, duct tape and utility knife for covering broken windows
  • Tools such as a crowbar, hammer & nails, staple gun, adjustable wrench and bungee cords
  •  Blanket or sleeping bag
  •  Large heavy duty plastic bags and a plastic bucket for waste and sanitation
  • Any special-needs items for children, seniors or people with disabilities.
  • Paper and pencil
  • Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children
  • Don’t forget water and supplies for your pets.

A component of your disaster kit is your Go-bag. Put the following items together in a backpack or another easy to carry container in case you must evacuate quickly.  Prepare one Go-bag for each family member and make sure each has an I.D. tag. You may not be at home when an emergency strikes so keep some additional supplies in your car and at work, considering what you would need for your immediate safety.

Each Go-bag (one for each family member) should include: 

  • Flashlight
  •  Radio – battery operated
  •  Batteries
  • Whistle
  • Dust mask
  • Pocket knife
  • Emergency cash in small denominations and quarters for phone calls
  •  Sturdy shoes, a change of clothes, and a warm hat
  • Local map
  • Some water and food
  • Permanent marker, paper and tape
  • Photos of family members and pets for re-identification purposes
  • List of emergency point-of-contact phone numbers
  • List of allergies to any drug (especially antibiotics) or food
  • Copy of health insurance and identification cards
  • Extra prescription eye glasses, hearing aid or other vital personal items
  • Prescription medications and first aid supplies
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Extra keys to your house and vehicle
  • Any special-needs items for children, seniors or people with disabilities

Don’t forget to make a Go-bag for your pets!

Your basic emergency kit for your car should include:

  •  Food
  • Water
  • Jumper cables
  • Two roadside flares
  • A quart of oil
  • Small first aid kit
  • Extra fuses
  • Flashlight
  • Multipurpose tool  (commonly containing pliers, wire cutters, knife, saw, bottle opener, screwdrivers, files and an awl)
  • Tire inflator (like Fix-a-Flat)
  • Rags
  • Pocket knife
  • Pen and paper
  • A help sign
  • Seasonal supplies (warm blanket, tire chains, gloves etc. for winter; sunscreen, shade etc. for summer)

For more information, visit the FEMA website or the American Red Cross.

Disaster preparation part 2 – Make a plan

Make a planSo you know the hazards and have prepped your property. Now it’s time to make a plan.

Escape routes

  • At home. Draw a floor plan of your home. Use a blank sheet of paper for each floor. Mark two escape routes from each room. Make sure children understand the drawings. Post a copy of the drawings at eye level in each child’s room.
  • Outside the home. Establish two places to meet in the event of an emergency, one near the home (for example, the next door neighbor’s telephone pole) and one outside the immediate area (for example, the neighborhood grocery store parking lot).

Family communications

  • Designate an out-of-area contact person. Try to select someone that is far enough away to not be affected by the same emergency. Provide this person with the names and contact information of the people you want to keep informed of your situation. Instruct family members to call this person and tell them where they are. Long distance phone service is often restored sooner than local service.
  • Complete a contact card for each family member. Have family members keep these cards handy in a wallet, purse, backpack, etc. You may want to send one to school with each child to keep on file. Include information in your plan: contact names and phone numbers, emergency meetings places and phone numbers.

Utility shut-off and safety

  • Natural Gas. Because there are different gas shut-off procedures for different gas meter configurations, it is important to contact your local gas company for guidance on preparation and response regarding gas appliances and gas service to your home. When you learn the proper shut-off procedure for your meter, share the information with everyone in your household. Be sure not to actually turn off the gas when practicing the proper gas shut-off procedure
  • Water. Water quickly becomes a precious resource following many disasters. It is vital that all household members learn how to shut off the water at the main house valve. Locate the shut-off valve for the water line that enters your house. Make sure this valve can be completely shut off. Your valve may be rusted open, or it may only partially close. Replace it if necessary. Label this valve with a tag for easy identification, and make sure all household members know where it is located.
  • Electricity. Electrical sparks have the potential of igniting natural gas if it is leaking. It is wise to teach all responsible household members where and how to shut off the electricity. To shut off electricity:
  1. Locate your electricity circuit box.
  2. Teach all responsible household members how to shut off the electricity to the entire house.

FOR YOUR SAFETY: Always shut off all the individual circuits before shutting off the main circuit breaker.

Insurance and vital records

  • Obtain property, health, and life insurance if you do not have them. Review existing policies for the amount and extent of coverage to ensure that what you have in place is what is required for you and your family for all possible hazards.
  •  Duplicate important documents and keep copies off-site, either in a safety deposit box or with someone you trust. Documents may include: passport, drivers license, social security card, wills, deeds, financial statements, insurance information, marriage license and prescriptions.
  • Inventory valuables, in writing and with photographs or video. Keep copies of this information off-site with your other important documents.
  • Money. Consider saving money in an emergency savings account that could be used in any crisis. It is advisable to keep a small amount of cash or traveler’s checks at home in a safe place where you can quickly access them in case of evacuation.
  • Complete the “Emergency Financial First Aid Kit” to put it all together.

Special needs

If you or a family member have special needs, find out about special assistance that may be available in your community. Register with the office of emergency services or the local fire department for assistance so needed help can be provided.

  • Create a network of neighbors, relatives, friends, and coworkers to aid you in an emergency. Discuss your needs and make sure everyone knows how to operate necessary equipment.
  • Discuss your needs with your employer.
  • If you are mobility impaired and live or work in a high-rise building, have an escape chair.
  • If you live in an apartment building, ask the management to mark accessible exits clearly and to make arrangements to help you leave the building.
  • Keep specialized items ready, including extra wheelchair batteries, oxygen, catheters, medication, food for service animals, and any other items you might need.
  • Be sure to make provisions for medications that require refrigeration.
  • Keep a list of the type and model numbers of the medical devices you require.

Caring for animals

  • Identify a shelter.
  • Gather pet supplies.
  • Ensure your pet has proper ID and up-to-date veterinarian records.
  • Provide a pet carrier and leash.

Take the following steps to prepare to shelter your pet:

  • Call your local emergency management office, animal shelter, or animal control office to get advice and information.
  • Keep veterinary records to prove vaccinations are current.
  • Find out which local hotels and motels allow pets and where pet boarding facilities are located. Be sure to research some outside your local area in case local facilities close.

Know that, with the exception of service animals, pets are not typically permitted in emergency shelters as they may affect the health and safety of other occupants.

Safety Skills

  • Learn CPR and First Aid.
  • Know how to use a fire extinguisher
  • For fires - Stop, Drop, and Roll
  • For earthquakes - Drop, Cover, and Hold 

For more information, visit the FEMA website or the American Red Cross.

Disaster preparation part 1 – Know your hazards

DisasterGiven recent disasters like the earthquakes and tsunami in Japan, I feel like I have gotten the kick in the behind to start getting prepared. After all, with scientists predicting a major earthquake coming to Oregon, now really is the time to start thinking and getting ready.

In this 3-post series, I’ll give you some ways to prepare yourself and your family for a potential disaster.

Step 1 – Know your hazards

Here in Oregon, our natural hazards are:

  • Earthquakes
  • Floods
  • Volcanic eruptions
  • Wildfires
  • Landslides

If you want to add tsunamis to the list (on the Oregon Coast), that would be appropriate as well.

Now, prepare your property from these natural hazards.

Step 2 – Protect your property

From Earthquakes

  • Anchor, anchor, anchor. Properly anchor large equipment, tall bookcases, file cabinets, framed pictures, mirrors. Bolt sill plates to the foundation.
  • Brace for it. Install latches on drawers and cabinet doors, restrain desktop computers and appliances.
  • Stay flexible. Use flexible connections on gas and water lines.

From Floods

  • Get it up. Raise electrical system components above flood level. Raise or floodproof HVAC equipment.
  • Keep it dry. Applying a waterproof coating or membrane to the exterior walls of the building, and install watertight shields over doors, windows, and other openings.
  • Don’t let it float. Anchor the building as necessary so that it can resist floatation. Anchor fuel tanks and other storage tanks to prevent flotation.

From Volcanic Eruptions

  • Ash fall. Keep a pair of goggles and a dust mask handy for each member of your household in case of ash fall.
  • Lava and debris flows. Review landslide and mudflow safety and preparedness measures with members of your household.

From Wildfires

  • Clean up. Remove debris from under sun decks and porches. Keep trees prunced and limit vegatation to 30 feet around your home.
  • Cover up. Enclose eaves and overhangs. Cover house vents with wire mesh.
  • Water up. Prepare for water storage. Develop an external water supply, such as a small pond, well, or pool.

From Landslides

  • Cover the ground. Plant ground cover on slopes to stabilize the land, with 18″ maximum height.
  • Watch the slopes. Build retaining walls and inspect slopes for increases in cracks, holes, and other changes.
  • Change the flow.Build channels or deflection walls to direct the flow around buildings. But remember:  If you build walls to divert debris flow and the flow lands on a neighbor’s property, you may be liable for damages.

For more information, visit the FEMA website or the American Red Cross.