Monday, September 28, 2015

Beyond Canned Food and Flashlights | 3 Things You Must Know about Disaster Preparedness

The Pacific Northwest flies under the radar as natural disasters go. We get the occasional wind storm or mudslide, and forest fires are certainly a summertime regular, but tornadoes and hurricanes or weeks of sub-zero temps mostly stay away.

Which is partly why the recent article in The New Yorker entitled The Really Big One by Karen Schulz shook Oregon and Washington residents to their collective core.

An earthquake of absolutely epic proportions is lying in wait just off the coast of the Pacific Northwest.

The Cascadia subduction zone, a fault line where the Juan de Fuca oceanic plate is slowly forcing its way under the North America tectonic plate, is part of the “ring of fire.” Lesser known than the famous San Andreas fault, the Cascadia subduction zone is becoming a household name on the west coast. When these dueling plates give way, and they will, the resulting earthquake could register an astounding 9.3. The tsunami that follows will destroy everything in its path.

From the article: “Our operating assumption is that everything west of Interstate 5 will be toast,” says Kenneth Murphy, who directs FEMA’s Region X, the division responsible for Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Alaska.


FEMA projects:
     ·         13000 deaths
     ·         27000 injuries
     ·         1M displaced people needing shelter
     ·         2.5 M people needing food and water

Survivors will face months if not years of rebuilding.

Planning for this sort of devastation is so overwhelming it seems almost pointless,

and that might be one of the reasons most of us have neither an emergency kit nor an emergency plan.

September is National Preparedness Month and this is the third in a four part series of posts on Emergency Kits. Thus far we’ve talked about the Car Kit and the Under Bed Kit. This week we will focus on the Stay at Home Kit.

 The Stay at Home Kit

We must understand these THREE ESSENTIALS when building our Stay at Home Emergency Kits.


1.       You're On Your Own

When disaster hits, police, fire and medical go to the hardest hit, most highly populated areas. Folks in the suburbs and rural areas may not see emergency help for days.

Be prepared to:
          ·         Dress your own wounds
          ·         Turn off your own gas and water (if necessary)
          ·         Repair your own residence
          ·         Share equipment with neighbors (generators, fire extinguishers,
          ·         Care for children and elderly

2.       It Could Last a Long Time

Utilities, city services, roads and bridges will be restored and repaired in due time, but be prepared to live without creature comforts for more than the standard 72 hours.

The following will serve you well:

               ·         Camping equipment
               ·         Water purification systems
               ·         Solar powered devices
               ·         Dehydrated foods
               ·         Non-local communication contact

3.       Any Kit is Better than No Kit

It’s easy to become overwhelmed with all this planning, but experts assure us any action is better than no action. Start by stashing emergency supplies in one central location, a little at a time. Eventually you will have a well-stocked Stay at Home Kit. Click on the links below for more information about certain items.


  Large Sturdy Bin (wheels are a plus)
  Large Trash Can with Lid (wheels are
  a plus)
  Assorted Bins for Smaller Items
  with Labels

First Aid
  Advanced First Aid Kit
  Bug Repellant
  Prescription Medications
  Pain Relief/Fever Reducer

Shelter & Warmth
    Extra Blankets/Sleeping Bags
    Space Blankets
    Stocking Hat
    Warm Gloves  
    Warm Coat/Rain Coat
    Complete Change of Clothes  
    Shoes & Socks
    Warming Packets

Hands/Feet/Head Protection
   Sturdy Shoes
    Work Gloves
    Hard Hat

   Bottled Water
     (1 gallon/person/day)
    Water Filter System
    Water Containment System
    Hot Water Heater
    Pool/Hot Tub Water (ok for bathing
   or flushing)

   Non-perishable Dry Goods
    Canned Goods
    Dry Milk
    Peanut Butter
    Instant Coffee/Tea
    Powdered Energy Drinks
    Emergency Supply of Food

Important Docs
   ID Documents
    Cash (small denominations)


   All Purpose Tool Kit
   Leatherman Tool/ Pocket
   Knife/Utility Knife
    Wrench (to turn off natural gas)
    Duct Tape
    Dust Masks


  Radio (solar, crank or battery)
   Hard Line Phone
   Mobile Phones



   Head-mounted Flashlights
   Flashlights (solar, crank or battery)
   Lanterns (solar, crank, battery
   or propane)
   Candles (contained)
   Lighter/Waterproof Matches
   Glow Sticks


   Solar Chargers
   Extension Cords

Fire Safety
   Fire Extinguishers
   Each Floor

Food Prep

   Camping Stove & Fuel
   BBQ Grill & Fuel or Charcoal
   Cooking Pot(s)
   Cooking Utensils
   Can Opener
   Plastic Plates, Cups & Eating Utensils

Hygiene &
   Wet Wipes
   Hand Sanitizer
   Antibacterial Dish Soap
   Laundry Soap
   Unscented Bleach
   Paper Towels
   Garbage Bags

Toiletries/Personal Items

   Contact Case & Saline
   Hearing Aid Batteries
   Toilet Paper
   Toothbrush, Toothpaste and Floss
   Cotton Balls & Swabs
   Shampoo & Conditioner
   Body Wash or Soap
   Wash Cloths & Towels
   Razor & Shaving Cream
   Nail File
   Feminine Products

  Formula & Bottles
   Baby Food
   Kid Food/Snacks
   Diapers & Wipes
   Change of Clothes
   Comfort Item
   Books/Activity Books

(have your pet microchipped, if possible)

  Collar with Tags
  Food & Treats
  Toy/Chew Toy

  Playing Cards
  Pen & Paper
  Prayer Items
  Books & Puzzle Books
  Toys & Games
  Crafts & Projects

 It’s impossible to prepare for every sort of disaster, but it IS possible to do something today.

 Talk to your family.

Start making a plan.

Start building your kit. 

Remember: doing something is better than doing nothing!

Come back next week for our final kit: the IDENTITY KIT

By the way, the following websites have loads of information about disaster preparedness: (a part of FEMA)

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Preparing for Disaster, Planning for Survival | Building the Car Kit

The children were outside playing and the adults were indoors cooking.

The evening sun was setting over a spectacular view of snow-capped mountains.

And someone was pounding on the door screaming:

 “Fire! Get out now!”

We called the kids inside, turned off the stove, grabbed our purses and car keys, and headed for the door.
We were vacationing on a ranch in the high desert of Oregon. Forest fires were somewhat common, and we figured one had sparked up nearby.

But it wasn’t a forest fire.

The Actual Fire. Photo by Flickr - ChinaRoadWarrior 

We walked out the door – me, my sister, our mother and our five tiny children – to flames reaching twenty or thirty feet into the sky. A vacation condo, two condos really, as well as a soaring fir tree, were completely engulfed in flames – just feet from where we stood. The heat was intense and the smell was intense and the sense of danger was very, very intense.

Wikimedia Commons

Are you prepared for tragedy?

What if you were away from home – on a road trip or a day trip or even just a trip to the store? Do you have what you need in your car to prevent an inconvenience from turning into a full-blown emergency?

Wikimedia Commons

September is National Preparedness Month and this is the second in a four part series of posts on Emergency Kits. Last week I wrote about a simple Under Bed Kit in case emergency strikes during the night. Being as woefully underprepared as reportedly 60% of Americans, I’m building my kits alongside you.


This week we are building a Car Kit.

Some call it a Go Kit or a Grab-n-Go Kit, but I like to think of it as permanently in the car.
Basically you want to prepare for car trouble, especially during inclement weather or late night hours; sudden but extraordinary traffic jams, medical emergencies, or even a home evacuation. 
Plan for several hours to a couple days. Be prepared to walk.

CONTAINER   Backpack
  Box, Bin or Crate 


Roadside Kit
         Jumper Cables
         Flashlight (preferably wind-up)
      Reflective Signs
        Basic Tools
         Small Fire Extinguisher
         Seat Belt Cutter/Escape Tool (awesome!)
         A ready-made kit can be purchased at
      any hardware or variety store

         Mobile Phone
         Phone Charger
         Walkie Talkies

Winter Weather
         Cat Litter or Sand
         Folding Shovel
         Ice Scraper
         Space Blankets
         Stocking Hat
         Warm Gloves
         Foldable Jacket
         Tire Chains
        Small First Aid Kit
        Bug Repellant
        Emergency Medications
        Ready-made First Aid Kits are available at
        any variety store

Food & Water
         Pop Top Canned Goods
         Power Bars
      Peanut Butter Crackers
         Bottled Water

Important Documents
         Driver’s License
         Auto Insurance Card
         Auto Registration
      Cash & Credit Cards  

Personal Care
         Corrective Glasses
         Contact Case & Saline
         Toilet Paper
         Wet wipes
         Hand Sanitizer

         Baby Food
         Kid Food/Snacks
         Diapers & Wipes
         Change of Clothes
         Comfort Item

        Collar with Tags & Leash
        Folding Water Bowl

Just for Fun
        Playing Cards
        Pen & Paper


  Restock/rotate items twice a year
  Keep car in good working order
  Keep gas tank at least  ½ full
  Agree on a communication plan with family

  Always check weather reports before road

If this seems like a lot, make it easy on yourself. The American Red Cross sells complete kits, from the very basic to the very deluxe – backpack and all.
This summer I stocked a backpack for hiking, and since it contains many of the items on this list, I tossed it in the car and am letting it double as my Car Kit. 

Here’s a photo of it – along with some of the contents.

The fire I mentioned earlier was brought under control in a couple hours. There were no injuries but the condos did suffer significant damage.

 The rest of our vacation was particularly enjoyable. The fire was one of those reminders that we can’t take anything for granted. 
And to be prepared, of course.

Come back next week for the STAY AT HOME KIT.
The following week will be the very important IDENTITY KIT.

By the way, the following websites have loads of information about disaster preparedness: (a part of FEMA)