Winterize Your Disaster Kit

Winter Mailbox by merfam on FlickrIt doesn’t matter if the temperature where you live never drops below 45 or gets below 0 in the winter. Either way, you need to make sure you have cold weather gear in your earthquake kit in case you’ve got cold weather at hand when the power goes out.

If you’re prepared to shelter in place, be sure to consider sheltering when it’s chilly. Will you be able to shelter in place with no heat if it is cold outside? It may not seem that cold where you live, but consider how uncomfortable you will be if an earthquake strikes and you don’t have access to winter clothing or your house heater.

So add some winter weather gear to your earthquake kits. Put some in your car kit and your home earthquake kit, so that whether you’re trapped out and about or at home in the chill, you’ll be prepared.

Items to add to your home earthquake kit:

  • Lightweight down jacket
  • Warm hat
  • Thermal gloves
  • Warm socks
  • Lightweight Rain gear or all weather gear
  • Waterproof shoes or boots
  • Long underwear
  • Camp stove to heat food and water
  • Carbon monoxide detector for inside your house
  • Weather radio so you can hear what is coming and be ready

Also, learn your winter weather terms so those radio broadcasts will have meaning.

With a few added items such as those above, you can make sure those post-quake winter days are cozy for you and your loved ones. Winterize your home earthquake kit today.

Photo Credit: Winter Mailbox by merfam on Flickr.

Posted in In The News

Throw a Holiday Prepper Potluck Because it is Always Earthquake Season

Prepper_Potluck_CropThe holidays are upon us. Are you ready?

Of course when we ask that, we mean earthquake ready. The holidays are a time when friends and family get together, so why not turn one of your gatherings into a holiday potluck for earthquake preparedness.

Every year at this time we meet for holiday parties and gatherings. Here is an opportunity to turn your holiday potluck into something really special. Instead of asking friends to bring Aunt Bessie’s Figgie pudding, ask your friends to bring over a single component of a personal earthquake kit. Everyone can share in the effort and cost and everyone takes home a completed earthquake kit.

Radios cost more than whistles, so group cheaper items together to even the load on your guests. As host, maybe you can add a special treat like fancy chocolates, or a solar charger. You can also include earthquake prep items like bookcase straps or gas line wrenches. Your guests may even think of things that had not occurred to you, so be ready to add to the list as people get inspired.

Here is a step by step guide to planning a holiday prepper potluck for 20 people:

Step 1: Everyone will need a bag to put their earthquake supplies in. Either purchase 20 backpacks or rucksacks at someplace like Goodwill, Salvation Army, or Out of the Closet, or ask each guest to bring their own backpack.

Step 2: Print out 20 emergency wallet card sets, 20 Preparedness Bingo sheets, and 20 1 minute quake checklists for each guest.

Step 3: Provide fabric and glitter pens for guests to decorate their go-bags. Consider a Bedazzler.

Step 4: Ask your guests to sign up to bring the items on the list below. Then provide the food and drink for everyone to share. Depending on the size of the party you may include food and drink signups too.

  • 20 bungee cords: Bungees to attach your bag to under your bed.
  • 20 pairs of socks: An emergency change of socks belongs in every kit.
  • 20 flashlights: Safer than candles. Be sure to include batteries.
  • 20 pairs of work gloves: Protect your hands when digging through rubble.
  • 2 people bring 10 Transistor radios each: to tune in emergency broadcasts & get news. Don’t forget the batteries!
  • 4 people bring 5 Solar/crank/battery chargers each: To power Smart phones and rechargeable batteries.
  • 20 sets of pens and pads of paper: For leaving notes of your whereabouts .
  • 20 pairs of protective goggles: They make navigating dusty or smoky areas easier.
  • 20 emergency whistles: Let rescuers know where you are.
  • 20 dust masks/bandanas cause nobody wants to breathe in building dust after an earthquake.
  • 2 people bring 10 large bottles of water as starter water each: Ultimately each person will need a gallon per person per day, but you’re not going to carry that in your go-bag. You need that quantity of water in your stay-at-home earthquake kit. See what says about water.
  • 20 chocolate bars: a tasty high calorie snack
  • 20 energy bars: a more wholesome alternative snack.
  • 20 portable first aid kits: See Red Cross Anatomy of a First Aid Kit.
  • 20 bookcase securing straps: Designed to secure tall furniture to the wall.
  • 2 people bring 10 Headlamps each: Camping style headlamps make for a great hands-free light source. Remember the batteries too.

Step 5: Arrange all the emergency supplies in a circle, and have your guest form a line and go around the room adding each item to their go-bag. Hand out emergency wallet cards once they are done.

Step 6: Offer your guest the fabric and glitter pens to decorate their go-bags.

Step 7: Once everyone has packed their go-bags, settle down with a slice of pizza and a beer or soda, and engage your guests in a games and conversations about earthquake preparation. Play a round of preparedness bingo. Offer a cool emergency item like a solar backpack or solar powered radio to the winner.

Step 8: Ask everyone to write down what they would add to their go-bag to personalize it. Comfy shoes? Earplugs? Starbucks coffee in a can? You’ll be surprised at some people’s ideas ; they could be things you never knew you wanted until your friend mentioned it. Give a prize for the most original go-bag addition.

Have everyone take turns saying where they will put their grab-&-go bag. If they don’t say “under my bed” then show them why we think a personal quake kit belongs under the bed.

Everyone in California needs a personal emergency kit or grab-and-go bag. A holiday prepper potluck is a wonderful gift to give to your friends and love ones. Have a crafty evening together, and then everyone will be that much more earthquake ready.

Posted in Disaster v. Preparedness

Be A Disaster Buddy!

Disaster_Buddy_FormIf an earthquake strikes, do you know someone who may need additional help getting out of their house, or assistance in implementing their emergency plan? Offer to be their Disaster Buddy!

When we invited Stasha Wyksiel to be our guest blogger , she offered several suggestions to people with special needs for getting earthquake ready. One of her main ideas was that people with special needs need to put their friends in their earthquake kit. She opined that the best way to do this was to enlist a pair of disaster buddies who could check on them after an earthquake strikes.

Is there someone in your life that needs a disaster buddy? Do you need a disaster buddy? If so, we can help. We have created a simple Disaster Buddy Plan that can be filled out in just a few minutes.

Put your friend’s medical information, their physical requirements for assistance, contact phone numbers,  the name and contact for your friend’s second Disaster Buddy, and local emergency information all on our one-page Disaster Buddy Plan. Then put a copy in your home emergency kit and your grab-&-go bag , so you have it for reference after the earthquake strikes.  Be sure to ask your special needs friend to introduce you to their other Disaster Buddy, so you are both on the same page when it comes to being prepared to help.

Knowing what to do to help your friend after an earthquake is a great plan, so become a Disaster Buddy today!

Posted in You Are More prepared Than You Think You Are

Make a Grab-and-Go Emergency Bag For Your Special Needs

Red_Cross_quake_appAs a person who is differently-abled, your needs for earthquake preparedness are special indeed. A first-rate plan for your own preparedness is essential, and making a grab-and-go bag that suits your needs is a great place to start.

You may not even have to do any shopping to create your little grab-and-go emergency bag , since most of these items are things you probably have around the house. Find the following things around your house and place them in a small, sturdy bag that you can carry with you easily. Keep your grab-and-go bag bungee-ed to an easy-to-access location in your home, so you can take it with you if you need to evacuate.

Use this list as a guide to what you need in your special needs grab-and-go bag:

  • A small flashlight whose batteries are regularly changed
  • Whistle
  • Dust mask/bandanna
  • A hat to keep sun off your face
  • Change of socks and undies
  • High calorie snack item
  • Emergency water in bottle or pre-packaged
  • Personal, insurance, and medical records in waterproof envelope, including prescriptions
  • Emergency cash in small bills
  • Emergency contact information for family, friends
  • USB drive with scanned copies of all personal documents
  • Mobile or solar charger for your smart phone
  • Transistor radio
  • Small pad of paper with pen
  • Small emergency kit
  • Multipurpose tool

You can personalize your kit any way you see fit. Just make sure it is easy for you to carry.

One more thing that belongs in your emergency kit, but does not go into your grab-and-go bag are the Red Cross First Aid app and the Red Cross Earthquake app available for download to your smart phone. With it you can guide yourself through preparedness, learn how to deal with common injuries and ailments, and even reach out for emergency assistance if you need it.

Remember to replace your grab-and-go bag’s perishable items like batteries, water and food every 6 months or so. That way you’ll be fully charged and ready when the next earthquake hits. Now that’s pretty special!

Posted in You Are More prepared Than You Think You Are

20 Tweaks Disabled Citizens Can Use To Make An Earthquake Better

Photo by bitsorf on Flickr

What could be more personal than, well, personal preparedness? It’s everyone’s individual responsibility to be prepared and build resiliency into the communities we love. It’s of course no different for people with special needs and/or different abilities. Whether you’re the guy that crowd surfed to the stage in his wheelchair last weekend at the music festival or the violinist with the guide dog, EVERYONE needs a plan that fits them.

What are you planning for? Well for starters, think about where you live. Know what could happen in your area. It goes without saying that every day is Earthquake Day here in California. What else is a hazard to your home or where you work? The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services has a great “My Hazards” web page that uses your zip code, address or a nearby landmark to clearly define the most likely hazards you will experience. Try it and tell your friends. Their hazards may be different than yours.

Stay informed.
If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you’re not going to be able to use the one voice line at the emergency shelter. So how will you reach out to friends and loved ones? Keep your phone charged so you can text.

  • Put an extra charger in your go-bag just for emergencies.
  • Buy a go-bag backpack with a solar charger, or an external solar charger so you can always have a little power to communicate with people.
  • Pencil and paper. Just a small amount, in the bag.
  • Follow the alerts on twitter.

San Francisco is one of the many cities that send out emergency information via text on their SFAlerts account. Check your community to find out if they have a similar service. Another way to keep informed and let others know what is going on with you is through Twitter. You can start by following emergency update feeds such as CalOES, your local Red Cross, CalFire, the CDC, and the USGS earthquake feed. Also, we are pretty sure that if an earthquake happens, Austin Elliot at the Trembling Earth will be talking about it. With all this information at your fingertips, you might end up being the most informed person in the room!

Enlist your friends.
That’s what friends are for…. It’s not just a great Dionne Warwick song. Your friends should be a part of your plan! Out of the hundreds of your Facebook friends, pick a few that you can look to for help if something goes pear-shaped. Better still, talk to your neighbors. Geographic nearness is a good test of who is best to assist you after an earthquake.

  • Be sure to ask at least two different, unrelated neighbors to be your disaster-buddies, in case one of them is out of town when you need assistance.
  • Give them each a key, in case you’re unable to get to the door.

Are you going to need assistance getting out of your house? Do you have equipment that requires power, but will you need help to start up your emergency generator? Don’t be shy! Talk to your friends about how they can help you the best. That IS what friends are for!

Practice DCHO and evacuation.
Make sure your service animal has his or her own go-bag & emergency kit, that includes vaccination records.
And make sure your service dog, monkey or elephant knows what to do, and what not to do, during an earthquake. When you dive under the table for drop, cover and hold on, you don’t want your dog trying to pull you out and getting you back in your chair. Make sure there’s a way Fluffy The Service Elephant knows the difference between falling down and diving for safety.

If the electricity is out and you’ve got an elevator to navigate, an electric chair, or can’t hold a flashlight, practice getting out of the house now while it’s daylight and the electricity works. Figure out if your walker or your dog needs its own headlamp.

Let local services know you’re there.
Some local emergency offices, such as the LA City Fire Department’s ReadyLA have systems in place to identify people that may need additional assistance during emergency events. Give yours a shout and see what they can do to help you out.

  • Keep a paper list of emergency numbers in case you’ve only got your landline available.
  • Team up and help out. Call your local CERT or Red Cross and volunteer.

You can also sign up for the Community Emergency Preparedness Information Network (CEPIN), and they can connect you online with local first-responders. Now is the time to make those connections, so when an earthquake strikes, your first-responder pals will know what you need.

Customize your earthquake kit.
There are lists of items you can use to build an earthquake kit and even resources that will sell you one pre-made, but you need to make sure that your kit is personalized for your needs. Think about your immediate survival first and then trick out your kit with additional supplies that you would want.

Consider resources you use on a daily basis that are likely to be unavailable at a disaster shelter. Keep a large kit that you can access if you are able to stay at home and a smaller one  that you can take, or have a friend take, if you need to evacuate from your home or the area.

  • If you use special utensils, be sure to put a few in your kit.
  • If you’re not able to carry heavy items, put your earthquake kit in a small roller bag.
  • Make sure you have your medication and other needed equipment for 72 hours in your earthquake kit.
  • If you take insulin, or other temperature controlled medication, regularly, be sure to keep an insulated container in your kit, and a freezer pack in your freezer, so you can grab it and keep it cool when you use that go-bag.
  • Put a photocopy of your prescriptions in your go-bag.
  • Put a small pad and pencil your kit if you’re likely to need to communicate non-verbally.
  • Include a thumb drive that has your important documents scanned, especially medical records and insurance information.

Take to the World Wide Web.
With phone lines dedicated to emergency services and connections spotty, social media may be the fastest way to reach out to those that can help you. During Superstorm Sandy in New York this year, emergency services were getting vital information from people in need of help.

  • Learn to use email and text messaging so you can use them in an emergency.
  • Connect to your friends, family and community on social media so you can share information without the hassle of clogged phone lines.

Practice using social media with adorable pictures of fluffy and updates about your delicious dinners. And then you’ll know how to use it and be able to let people know how you are and what you need, if anything, in an emergency.

BE PREPARED! It makes you feel good to know you are ready for anything, even if Sharknados are few and far between.

How have you tweaked your own earthquake plan to make it best for you?

More information can be found here at’s functional needs page.

Stasha Wyskiel is a board member for the American Red Cross Bay Area and has been a professional disaster planner for Fortune 500 companies for more than 15 years. Her opinions in this article are her own.

Posted in Disaster v. Preparedness, You Are More prepared Than You Think You Are
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