Posts Tagged ‘emergency supplies’


Survival Kit Worksheet

Wednesday, November 15th, 2017
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“OK, I’m clear I need a survival kit.”

Backpack for survivalWe’re all familiar with the concept of a survival kit.

We usually picture a backpack that we can grab at a moment’s notice and that will carry us through a 3-day emergency until things get back to normal or we are taken under the wing of some helpful rescue organization.

But have you thought through . . .

  • What should really be IN the backpack?
  • How should MY backpack differ from YOURS?
  • How many kits do I actually need?

Wait . . .

“You mean I need more than just one?”

Of course you do!  What are the chances of the whole family being together, at home, when the disaster hits?!

Here’s a worksheet we’ve put together to get started on answering these basic questions. (You may have seen the worksheet before. We think it’s an essential tool!)

Go over the worksheet with your family, and share it with your neighborhood group before anyone starts actually putting a kit together or buying a pre-built kit. The instructions are simple, right there at the top.

Survival Kit Worksheet

Because we think survival kits are so essential, we’ve addressed the topic many times and from a number of different perspectives.

Here are some articles I think will be helpful. (There are more on the site. Use the search box in the upper right-hand corner to look up particular topics.)

You may want to check pertinent articles out BEFORE you start shopping for emergency kits and supplies!

We’ll be adding more on this topic. But this is a solid starter.

What we want to avoid is a situation like we saw repeated over an over again when Hurricane Harvey hit Texas — people struggling onto rescue boats carrying belongings in a ratty plastic bag, a pillow case, or climbing in empty handed. Disaster!

Virginia
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

 

 

 

Survival Kit Supplies

Thursday, May 18th, 2017
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Survival Kit SuppliesBy now you know that at Emergency Plan Guide, when it comes to survival kits, there’s no such thing as “one size fits all.

By now you know that having “the one perfect kit” doesn’t work, either!

No matter how well stocked your survival kit, if it is at home when the emergency strikes, and you are 43 miles away in the car, that kit will do you absolutely no good!

Different Survival Kits for Different Situations

The chart shows the four different sets of supplies that we think everyone needs:

1-A Go-Bag or Survival Kit (also known as a 3-day or 72-hour kit)

This is the kit you grab as you head out the door in an emergency. This kit needs to provide basics for the top  nine categories: water; food (stuff you like and can eat cold); shelter/warmth (clothing, blanket, sleeping bag, fire igniter); health/safety (first aid kit, medicines, sanitation supplies); communications (radio, whistle); light (flashlight, headlamp, lantern); clothing (shoes, gloves); cash (for vending machines and/or for buying supplies); personal items (toothbrush, prescription drugs, extra eyeglasses, paper and pen/pencil, and if it suits, a weapon for self-defense).

By and large, an off-the-shelf kit will be missing more than one of these main categories, so while it may serve as a start, you really can’t count on it.

2-A kit for the car

We all travel. And any of us could be trapped overnight in a car for something as mundane as road construction, a fallen tree – or a full-blown blizzard or hurricane. Your car kit will keep you comfortable and safe until you can find your way around the damage.

Your car kit contains the same basics as listed above for the Go-Bag, but it also may have some transportation-related items including tools for car repairs, jumper cables, a work light, maps, and flares. In snow country? Consider a folding shovel and non-slip mats. (You can see that you may actually have to pack two kits – one with personal stuff, and the other with car stuff. Tools and jumper cables are heavy and get dirty.)

One final note about your car. Remember it has a battery that can be used to charge your phone and power other items (like flood lights) as long as you have the right connections.

3-A kit for at work

Once again, this kit starts with the basics. Then, depending on where you work – how far it is from your home, what sort of building it is, what actually happens at the workplace – you may need some specialty items.

If you have to set out on foot to get home, you’ll need, above all, comfortable shoes. (Break in new shoes/boots for your office or car kit by wearing them on the treadmill at the gym!)

Your work kit might contain any of these specialty items: the comfortable shoes mentioned above, personal safety equipment including gloves, dust mask, and safety glasses; tool for shutting off equipment; list of business and family contacts; a good whistle.

If people have already left the workplace, and aren’t planning to come back, you might check out your colleagues’ desk drawers for extra snacks, band aids, etc. Most office workers have that “personal drawer” that could be a small treasure trove in a big emergency!

4-Shelter-in-place

Here in California, we have been asked by our local fire department to be prepared to shelter in place for 10 days to 2 weeks after “the big one” hits. If you live in a different area, with different threats, you may want to pull together supplies that will keep you going for months, not weeks.

Shelter-in-place supplies start with the basics, just as in the smaller kits. But you’ll need more of everything. Think of it as an extended camping trip, and build a plan . . .

Plan for buying and rotating canned food, stocking up on toilet paper and other sanitary supplies and buying and storing extra batteries. You may need more substantial shelter – like a big tent, or plastic to seal windows, with the ever popular duct tape, of course. A variety of more substantial tools. Like the concept of dried meals? Be sure you have something to heat water in so you can reconstitute it – for example, a camp stove and pot.

For each kit, your complete list will be longer that what we’ve just gone over.

But today, we’re not seeking perfection. We’re getting a handle on general readiness!

Rate yourself on the state of your own survival supplies. 

So as you have read these reviews of the different emergency supply kits, how would you rate yourself? One easy way is to estimate the percentage completed for each of the following statements.

  • I have assembled supplies for all four needs — Go Bag, Car, Work, Shelter-in-Place. My percentage completed _____
  • I have considered all nine major categories — water, food, shelter/warmth, health/safety, communications, lighting, clothing, cash, personal items. My percentage completed _____
  • I have added specialty items that I personally need or want for each kit. My percentage completed ___

If your score isn’t where you’d like it to be, consider the following.

Over the years we’ve asked many, many people why they haven’t put together their preparedness supplies. Here are the most popular “reasons:”

  • I don’t know how to get started.
  • It will take too long.
  • People will think I am strange or weird.
  • Why bother?  If it is the end of the world, it will not matter.
  • Nothing has happened so far, so why should I start to worry now?

Any of these sound familiar? I’m sure you’ve thought or heard them all at one time or another!

However, here at Emergency Plan Guide we figure these are all pretty weak reasons. In fact, we call them “excuses!”

Why so weak?

Because we’ve seen so many people start with one or two items and just keep working at it over time until they have built up a perfectly respectable stash!

When they do, they feel pleased and satisfied and a lot more confident that they’ll be able to handle that emergency, whenever it DOES come!

And that’s what we’re all working toward!

Virginia
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

P.S. Here are more complete lists of emergency supplies that you may be interested in:

Holiday Security Mistakes

Thursday, December 1st, 2016
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Tempting Christmas window All ready for the holidays?

Here are 3 security mistakes people tend to make at this time of year. Take 2 minutes to check them out. It would be wonderful if you and your family could avoid them all.

  1. Packages are SOOOO tempting!

Sure, you know better than to allow packages to be delivered to an empty house.

Just a week ago I was stopped on the street by a patrolman who showed me a picture of a kid taking a package from a front porch. (The picture had been taken by a home security camera. More on those later.)

And when you’re shopping, take the time to put gift purchases into the trunk of your car. If they won’t FIT in the trunk, at least cover the back seat pile with a dark and preferably dingy looking blanket. Better yet, make an extra trip rather than let packages sit unattended in a parking lot in full view.

And at home, don’t position your tree and all the lovely presents right in front of a window as in the picture above. Someone could break the window, grab the presents and run.

Packages are so tempting — to thieves!

  1. “We’re so proud of our emergency preparations.”

The holiday season often means more visitors to your house. The guy to string the lights on the roof. UPS and Amazon delivery people. All the invitees to your Christmas party!

Every person who comes onto your premises has the chance to take a good look at what you have – and that includes some of your emergency preparedness items.

Your gardener sees the locks, the security cameras and lights you’ve installed. The delivery guy walking past your open garage door sees your tools and the cupboards and shelves packed with food and water. The computer guy you bring in to troubleshoot your new network sees your ham radio set-up, not to mention your laptop and printers.

It’s natural for a visitor to tuck this sort of information away. And in a big emergency, your house might become a target for one of those visitors, now turned desperate.

What can you do to cover or camouflage emergency supplies? Yes, be proud of the sensible steps you’ve taken. But with a bit of creativity you’ll get more of them out of sight. You can be just as satisfied and maybe a whole lot safer.

  1. Take out the trash!

We’ve all read the novels where the criminal is identified because of stuff he puts in the trash. (Harrison Ford left orange peels and fake ID photos in the wastebasket in The Fugitive, remember?)

If you’re making a lot of purchases and getting a lot of gifts, you are going to have more trash than usual. And it may attract the wrong kind of attention.

Save and/or shred receipts or statements that have account numbers. Some receipts for online purchases may show up in your email. Protect them from casual view. Don’t stuff empty cardboard boxes (with pictures of TVs and electronic games and security cameras and drones!) into the trash; break them down and recycle anonymously at the recycling place.

And if you’re traveling during the holidays, make sure newspapers, leaves or other trash doesn’t build up outside while you are gone. That trash, plus a dark and empty house, is a real invitation to trouble. (Ask a neighbor for help, and invest in some timers for lights and/or radios.)

Oh, and for heaven’s sake, don’t you or your kids announce via social media or on a phone message that “We’re away skiing for a week!” Ouch!

We wish you the pleasure of giving, and the excitement of receiving. But we sure hope it’s not spoiled because you overlooked taking these sensible precautions.

Virginia
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

P.S. We’re writing an Advisory about “Hiding valuables in plain sight.” Sign up for all our Advisories to be sure you get it.

 

 

Guest Speaker Sparks New Interest

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016
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Our neighborhood Emergency Response Group meets pretty much monthly, but when we go for weeks and months without a fire, or an earthquake, or even a downpour, sometimes it’s hard to keep up members’ enthusiasm.

Last month’s meeting “hit the spot” with a guest speaker.

Training sessionWe invited the new head of our city’s Office of Energy Management. And since he is new to the job, we provided him with . . .

Some questions to start the discussion.

Here are his answers, with a few comments from me. You might be able to use these same questions for your own group, or for your own guest speaker representing an official position. In any case, even if it takes some research, your neighborhood group members should know the answers.

Q: What kinds of emergencies does the City prepare for?

A: Our City’s Emergency Plan lists 9 threats — natural, man-made and what we call “technological incidents.” It’s not just earthquakes; we could be hit by an airplane crash, a chemical spill, a wildfire . . . you name it.

Q: Who’s in charge?

A: When the City activates its EOC (Emergency Operations Center), which is part of the Police Department, all directions come from there. The EOC coordinates local, city, county, and even state and federal resources when necessary.

Q: How often is the EOC activated?

A: It wasn’t activated at all in 2015, which was unusual. In prior years it’s been activated for a major power outage and also for a big manhunt.  Training takes place regularly, though. We train using table-top exercises, functional exercises (testing one particular function, like evacuation or communication) and full-scale exercises.

Q: In an emergency, how will we residents know what to do?

A: If all communications are out, expect a delay before you hear from us. But you have a better chance of getting the news if you have a landline (for reverse 911 calls), an emergency radio (channel 1640), and have access to social media via the internet.  Both the City and the County have smart phone apps, too, that send out automated alerts and news.

Q: Should we turn off our gas if there’s an earthquake?

A: Use your nose as a sniffer! If you smell gas, contact the property manager or 911. In the case of multiple leaks, trained residents can turn off the gas to the whole neighborhood – but then you will ALL be without gas for days. In an earthquake, if there are multiple gas leaks, the real danger is fire, so do NOT start your car or otherwise cause a spark!

Q: What about evacuating?

A: Don’t go anywhere unless you’re told to by authorities.  Our City has a number of evacuation centers and depending on the emergency we will choose which ones to use. We also have vans filled with supplies stationed throughout the City. The Red Cross has a goal of having an emergency shelter set up within 2 hours, but in a large-scale emergency that goal is not likely to be met.

It will take a while to organize everything – so be sure you have what you need to take care of yourself at home. (Note from Virginia: In our neighborhood, the plan is Shelter-in-Place for as long as it takes. We will be better off in our own beds and with our own things if at all possible.)

Q: How long a wait should we plan for?

A: We ask that you have supplies for AT LEAST 3 DAYS. Enough for 7 days would be better. That means water, food, medicines, flashlights, warm clothing, etc., for you and your pet.  We recommend a gallon of water a day per person. (Virginia: We recommend 10 days to 2 weeks’ worth of supplies as being more realistic.)

Q: What about people with special needs?

A: Our city makes no particular plans for special members of the community because we can’t anticipate what will happen. If you are on oxygen, register with your oxygen company so you will be on their list. In a big emergency, it’s your neighbors who will be most able to help right away. Make friends! (Virginia: This answer wasn’t satisfactory. Watch for more in an upcoming Advisory.)

Q: What role does the Neighborhood Emergency Response Team play?

A: The City has free Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training, and a number of people here have had that training. CERT graduates will have an idea  — and the SAME idea —of how to respond in an emergency: how to check on neighbors, assess damage, and manage communications. If you have taken the training, you will be safer yourself, and be able to step up to help.

(Virginia adds: Because our neighborhood team has its own ham radio station, it can listen in to emergency communications and actually report in on conditions here. Most neighborhoods won’t be able to do that.)

Q: How will we know what to report?

A: It all depends on having Block Captains who know their neighbors and know how to use their walkie-talkies to report in. You will always need more members of the team because you don’t know who will be here when an emergency hits.

Q: How do we find out more about CERT?

A: Contact the City.

Q: How do we find out more about our local group?

A: Contact your group leader to find out more.

At this point, we took over the meeting.

We passed out maps of our neighborhood, showing the Divisions, with the names and phone numbers of the Division Leaders. We introduced the Division Leaders. Our guest from the Police Department handed out some lists of emergency supplies and some brochures with general safety tips.

Then we adjourned to cookies and punch.

As follow up to the meeting we will publish notes similar to this Advisory, and contact some people who seemed interested in CERT training. (Unfortunately, our City’s classes are full for the next few months.)

A new face, even with the same message, helps a lot to keep up the momentum of your preparedness efforts. Who can you get to speak to YOUR group?

Virginia
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

CERT Meeting IdeasP.S. If you have taken on the responsibility of planning meetings for your local group, you may want to take a look at the collection of CERT Meeting Ideas we put together last year. It has over 20 proven ideas with agendas, timing, materials needed, etc.

And stay tuned to Emergency Plan Guide, because we share our experiences — great and not-so-great — on a regular basis right here.

 

Emergency Radio Update

Thursday, May 12th, 2016
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Panasonic Emergency Radio

How old do you think this radio is?

Radios — The Most Popular Piece of Emergency Gear

More of our readers “invest” in emergency radios than in any other one piece of emergency equipment. (Makes sense, of course. Without a reliable emergency radio, when disaster hits you could be completely cut off. Without a good emergency radio, you may not even know that a disaster is COMING!)

Because of this interest, we continually comment on what to look for when you’re shopping for a radio. And we regularly update our Best Emergency Radios review page to be sure the radios listed there are still available.

So it’s time for yet another radio update.

Status of our long-time favorite emergency radio

The Ambient Weather Adventurer, original cost around $30, has been our favorite for a while. We own more than one, and many of our readers have them, too. It’s a great radio to tuck into your pack or simply have on the kitchen counter.

Bad news! This model seems to have been discontinued. Here and there online you can find one for sale, but their prices make no sense! I saw one yesterday at $281!

So we aren’t recommending this model anymore. (Maybe you want to try to sell yours for a profit???)

New favorite, the Eton FRX5

Eton makes several different radios, and the brand carries a number of labels including one from the American Red Cross.

The FRX3 costs about $10 more than the original Ambient Weather, and has most of the very same features.

The one we’re recommending today, though, is the Model FRX5.  It costs nearly twice as much, but for that you get double the power, more lighting options, the ability to charge a smart phone, capture localized emergency alerts, etc.

Here’s a link to the radio: Eton FRX5 Hand Crank Emergency Weather Radio with SAME Alerts

And here’s what it looks like:

This is a very compact radio, just over 7 inches tall and a couple of inches wide. It operates on battery, AC, solar and crank. In fact, this radio earned the best score in a recent test measuring how much listen time was created by 2 minutes of cranking. (In this case, something like 10-12 minutes.)

What I like is the SAME Alert feature — stands for Specific Area Message Encoding. You enter in your county and the radio will automatically send alerts for that area.  (Seems to me this would be essential in Tornado Alley of the U.S.!)

When you click the link above, you’ll go directly to Amazon. Scroll down to the bottom of the Amazon page for a full description of this radio, with several more photos.

First time radio purchaser? Get answers to 7 important questions.

If you haven’t yet added a radio to your survival supplies, check out the Eton model above. Just click on the blue link to get started.

If you have NEVER shopped for an emergency radio before, go first to our Best Emergency Radio Reviews page because you’ll find there the 7 questions you need to consider before adding a radio to your pack, or to the survival kit of any of your family members. And you’ll see a number of other radios that we have reviewed and recommend.

The radio we would upgrade to if we were flush

I’ve mentioned before that we have an old Panasonic shortwave radio. (Joe’s had it ever since we’ve been together, and that’s over 33 years now, so its age is something older than that!) That’s the radio in the picture at the top of this page. Joe was changing the batteries, which explains the red ribbons at the bottom.

We have hauled this radio from coast to coast and back again, and Joe loves it.

Yesterday Joe handed me a spec sheet for the radio he would LIKE to have. It’s also available at Amazon, and also made by Eton. As far as I am concerned, it certainly looks a lot like the old Panasonic (!), but . . .Joe assures me that it’s “the ultimate” in radio receivers. It gets AM, FM, Aircraft, Longwave and Shortwave bands, has a rotating antenna plus you can tune-in stations by keying them in or searching for them. You can actually store 1000 stations!

If you’re really serious about emergency radios, check this one out.

Alert – Prices for the SAME RADIO vary considerably. Shop carefully to get the best deal!

Eton Grundig Satellit 750 Ultimate AM/FM Stereo also Receives Shortwave, Longwave and Aircraft Bands – Black (NGSAT750B)

And doesn’t it look a LOT like the Panasonic collector item above?


You need at least one emergency radio, and probably several. The good thing about radios is you can select the features you need (for each use or each person) and not have to buy features you don’t want, and you’ll save by choosing carefully.

Do you already have an emergency radio? Would you recommend it?  Let us know in the comments!

Virginia
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

Don’t miss any of our equipment updates. Sign up below to get our Advisories directly into your email each week.

 

The Secret to Surviving a Neighborhood Disaster

Sunday, September 21st, 2014
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. . . Goes Against Current Fashion

Every week survivalists and preppers spend millions of dollars on “survival gear” — including tents, flashlights, generators, radios, firearms and more. Do you ever think you should be doing this, too?

Survival Mentality

Your survival mentality?

But take a moment to consider this. If your efforts are all to prepare your family to “pull up the drawbridge” and “defend the castle,” you will be ignoring, if not actively alienating, the very group that will be in the best position to save you!

Who is that? It’s your immediate neighbors!

Remember Katrina, Superstorm Sandy, the earthquake and tsunami in Japan? It was hours or even days before official help got to many neighborhoods!

Lives were saved by neighbors helping neighbors.

Most lives are lost in the first 15-30 minutes.

Regardless of how prepared you are with emergency supplies, the first 15 to 30 minutes following a disaster are the most critical if you are trapped in a burning house, under fallen debris or in a mud flow.

And the only people on the scene capable of helping will be your immediate neighbors.

The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) trainings that are available in many communities around the Country teach citizens how to best protect themselves and help their neighbors.

But in most cases – especially in more highly populated areas – the CERT training falls short of organizing trained members into functioning neighborhood units.

It’s up to you to organize your own neighborhood groups!

What about the aftermath?

Yes, you can store water, food and medicine to tide you over for the days or weeks it takes for the government and support organizations to recover.

But what good is it if your neighbors don’t do the same?

Are you prepared to fend off neighbors at gun point to protect your own supplies? Or are you going to stand by and watch them starve or die?

This is a terrible situation that you need to think long and hard about, because it could easily happen.

Once again, it’s up to you to remind your neighbors to build emergency supplies.

How to get your neighbors involved?  You can start by asking yourself, and then sharing with them, these important survival questions.

In an emergency, wouldn’t it be better if you knew . . .

  • The neighbors on either side of you, across the hall or across the street?
  • Are they families or individuals?
  • How many children do they have?
  • Where are family members normally during the day?
  • Are there any disabled members of the family?
  • What part of the house do people sleep in?
  • If people are missing at night, where would you look for them?
  • Do your neighbors know what part of your house you sleep in?
  • Would they know where to look for you in the middle of the night following an earthquake or tornado?
  • How long would it take them to find you?
  • Would you still be alive when they do find you?

In an emergency, you are your neighbors’ keeper – and they are yours.

Our current American emphasis on rugged individualism, our concerns for privacy, our worries about interfering – these views must be re-examined in the face of preparing for a neighborhood disaster.

 

Joseph Krueger
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

P.S. Share this post with your Neighborhood Emergency Response Team, to get their reaction.  And let us know how it is received!

Commuter’s Go Bag — Will the road home get you there?

Thursday, June 12th, 2014
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My daughter’s long commute by car.

Commuter's Go Bag MapOne of my daughters is an executive and works in Beverly Hills, California. With no real public transit available she is forced to drive over 100 miles to and from work, spending a total of almost four hours on the road every day. Every morning she sets out in her executive clothing and footwear and with a list of business phone calls to make along the way.

With two children in separate schools and on different schedules, her chances of a speedy reunion with family following a major earthquake are slim. Roads and freeways could be restricted for use by emergency vehicles responding to calls . . . or even possibly blocked by collapsed bridges and overpasses. At the very least, if the earthquake happens during the workday, roads will be massively congested with people trying to reach home.

If she had to walk to get home . . .

. . . she could. But 50 miles could conceivably take days.

Fortunately, she is conscientious and, of course, has me to help keep her on track!

What’s in her personal Commuter’s Go Bag?

In the trunk of her car she carries a Commuter’s Go Bag that we put together just for her. It has the usual Survival Kit items that you’d expect: walking clothes including comfortable shoes, a jacket, some energy bars and water, a portable radio, and a flashlight with extra batteries. There’s a notebook and pen. And because this is California, she has a space blanket AND an extra pair of sunglasses.

In addition, she carries extra prescriptions for a medical condition, and some cash (coins and small bills).

And because she is competent to deal with it, she has pepper spray.

Perhaps most important, she has paperwork: a list of contact numbers including some for family out of state, and maps that show her route and alternate ways to get home. (GPS may well be out.) She has teamed up with other employees who live in the same general area so they could travel in groups, and they have made note of “safe house” locations along the way where she — and any companions – can stop and rest.

She is good about keeping her car’s gas tank at least ¾ full at all times. If there is a general power outage that could last for days, neither ATMS, Credit Card Processors nor gas station pumps are likely to be operating, of course. I have suggested to her that a small, plastic, fuel canister and siphon hose that could siphon gas out of other stranded commuters’ cars may come in handy along the way! (She gets the concept, but hasn’t been ready to practice siphoning yet . . .!)

Finally, my grandchildren also have emergency supplies at home and know where to go and whom to call following a major emergency because neither mother nor dad is likely to get home any time soon.

Doesn’t it make sense for the commuters you know to have such a kit?

Putting together all the items mentioned above would cost about the same as a tank of gas. Naturally, you’ll have to complete your kit with more personal stuff.

Let us know how it goes!

Joe Krueger
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

P.S. We added an emergency kit to our granddaughter’s car too. Here’s the story!

Message in a Bottle — For Your Neighbor

Monday, March 17th, 2014
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We are currently exploring a “shock” method to get our preparedness message across to our neighbors. We wrap a letter around a one-liter bottle of water. It explains that . . .

Message in a Bottle“We cannot store enough food and water to be of help to you in an emergency, but here is a bottle of water to show our good faith. We hope you will recognize the need to be prepared and – using the list on the back of this letter – make sure your entire household is protected.”

Why go to this trouble for your neighbor?

Even here in our neighborhood, after all our meetings and trainings and articles, the reality is that as many as 35% of our neighbors simply don’t take responsibility for their own safety and security.

Yes, this is better than nationwide averages, which put the unprepared at closer to 50%.

But because these people haven’t personally experienced an earthquake or serious storm, or had to survive for any longer than a few hours in a post-emergency situation,

. . .either the risk doesn’t seem real to them or

. . .they mistakenly believe that the government will provide for them.

So the Message in a Bottle is just the next step.

Our Emergency Response Team will be meeting next week to roll the letters and fasten them to the water bottles with rubber bands. Then they’ll set out and deliver a bottle to the doorstep, if not directly into the hands, of every person in their assigned area.

When the emergency hits, we don’t want neighborhood slackers coming to us for help, and forcing us to either share our precious supplies or turn them away. The letter makes that clear — in a nice way.

We want everyone to be prepared and working together!

I’ll report in on what kind of response or reaction we get to this campaign!

Virginia
Your Emergency Plan Guide team

P.S. Sign up here so you don’t miss any neighborhood training ideas!

P.P.S. If you’d like a copy of our letter with the checklist on the back, just let me know.

Community Cache of Emergency Supplies

Sunday, March 9th, 2014
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At a recent CERT update meeting here in our town, a police officer was asking questions about our neighborhood preparedness. Not our individual preparedness, but what we have done for the neighborhood.

The question about supplies from the police.

Emergency supplies

Enough for the whole neighborhood?

“I assume you guys have pulled together supplies, like food, for everyone?”

As it turns out, we’ve been working hard to get our neighborhood aware and organized, so we were proud to be able to describe what we’ve accomplished.

The answer about supplies from our group.

“We have NOT taken on gathering and storing supplies for the whole neighborhood!”

Our motto is “Shelter in Place with your OWN supplies.”

Here’s why.

1. Human nature. If people think someone else is doing the work for them, they stop doing it themselves.

2. Incentive. If not everyone participates, then the “good citizens” who store food and water will be penalized when their unprepared neighbors start knocking on their door for help. We remind people that if they are unprepared, they are not likely to be welcomed when the disaster actually hits.

3. Money. Buying and storing food supplies for hundreds of people takes a big financial investment, not to mention specialized knowledge.

4. Space. Storing food supplies for hundreds of people also takes a big and ongoing investment in storage space, maintenance, security, etc.

We are a volunteer organization. Our membership waxes and wanes as people move away or move in. Fortunately our members can get good local CERT training, but some of the best neighbors don’t have it yet.

Now, we’re also fortunate to have a small monthly budget thanks to our Homeowners’ Association – and that allows us to purchase carefully-selected pieces of equipment that we will have ready for an emergency. (You can read more about our equipment purchases here.) But our budget doesn’t extend to the thousands of dollars that would be necessary for purchasing and storing food.

So we’ve decided to continue to stress “Make sure you have your own supplies of food you like and the medicines you need. And don’t expect your neighbor to welcome you with open arms when you run out.”

What decisions are you making in your neighborhood?

Virginia
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

I’d really like to hear! Please send comments!

 

 

Lessons from the Village of Cold Spring – Seven Steps for Eastern Cities

Sunday, September 1st, 2013
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An excellent article by Michael Turton came out today in the Philipstown.info. It hit on important preparedness issues for cities in the east – or anywhere, for that matter.

Map of Cold Spring NY

Thanks to Wikipedia for this map.

(In case you aren’t familiar with this part of the country, the Town of Philipstown is in Putnam County, New York. Two incorporated villages lie within the Town. The Village of Cold Spring, focus of Turton’s article, is one of them. It lies across the river from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.)

If you don’t have time to read the whole article, here are highlights, with my comments. Every single one of these points could be an action item for your group or community!

1. Leadership. Set up a local committee if you don’t have one yet. Turton’s article refers to a specific committee being put together for the Village of Cold Spring. The Mayor and a Trustee sit on the committee, as well as residents.

2. Registry. Find out who in your community needs special care. First Responders need to know who lives where and what special circumstances exist, such as a need for oxygen or wheelchair access. Having this information allows them to check even before a storm hits. The Cold Spring committee is starting with volunteer participation in assembling a resident registry – but the committee is willing to consider a local law if necessary.

3. Local centers. Identify local venues that could serve as temporary respite centers – but not necessarily “shelters.” As reported in the article, a formal “shelter” may require security and medical personnel.

4. Emergency supplies. Put shelter in place as first priority, evacuation as second. Of course, shelter in place requires that people have survival kits for the first 72 hours, enough to get them home safely. And then, at home, they need more emergency supplies to carry them through.

5. Priorities. Set guidelines for the distribution of community resources: sandbags, medical supplies, pumps, fuel supplies, etc. Who gets first access?

6. Gawkers. Educate the community about the dangers of gawkers. (Aside from Virginia Nicols – This is a tough one! We’ve had neighbors get all in a huff when our local team kept them from driving right up to the site of a fire, impeding the fire department and hindering rescue efforts!)

7. Authority. Make sure people know HOW to turn off community utilities (gas, lights, etc.) and that the turn-off switches work in all conditions. (Another aside from Virginia: Authority to turn off community systems – such as natural gas distribution systems — needs to be limited, and those people need to be properly trained.)

Here in the west, more groups are forming this month to do precisely what the Village of Cold Spring has begun. What’s going on in YOUR community?  Let us know by sending a comment.

Virginia
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

Survey Shows Half of American Families Without Survival Supplies

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013
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Which half do you fall into?

A 2012 poll conducted by the Adelphi University Center for Health Innovation revealed the following:

Equation◊  48% of Americans don’t have a survival kit or emergency supplies.
◊  Americans believe they can survive an average of 16 days in their homes . . .but over half don’t have even a 3-day supply of non-perishable food and water.
◊ 55% of Americans believe that “authorities” will come to their rescue when disaster strikes.

If you had been a part of this poll, which half of the group would you have fallen into – the half with a survival kit and emergency supplies, or the half counting on someone else to take care of them?

Are you a “taker?”

There’s a lot of political talk about our American Society being “a society of takers.” Most of the rhetoric has been distasteful, some has been ridiculous.

But when it comes to disaster preparedness, there does seem to be a “taker” group — a group that somehow expects others to take care of them. In my estimation, that “taker” half of the population seems to be either lazy, in denial or just plain . . . well, you add in your own best word there!

This month is National Preparedness Month. People around the country are planning events to get neighbors and neighborhoods involved. Joe and I will be part of the activity – we’ve already got three different activities on our calendar.

When it comes right down to it, though, there’s only so much we can do. Ultimately, it is up to individuals.

It’s up to individuals . . . meaning you.

Remember that great advertising line, “He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.”? Here’s another version aimed at disaster preparedness: “It’s not hard, it’s just common sense.”  The first three steps are particularly easy:

1. Build or buy a survival kit for yourself and for each person you care about. Here’s a link to our updated Top 10 List Of Emergency Items for your kits. Or, if you just don’t have time to put them together, buy pre-made kits. Check out our emergency supply kit reviews to be sure you’re getting the most for your money.

2. Buy some extra food and water every time you shop, and stick it in the back of the cupboard.

3. Get to know your neighbors. They are the ones who will come to your rescue, not the authorities.

Three simple steps will put you in the other half of the equation – where you belong!

Please share this article with the people around you. The more prepared they are, the safer YOU will be. And the better you’ll sleep at night.

 

Virginia Nicols

Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

 

 

 

CERT Challenge: Overcoming Apathy and Procrastination

Sunday, June 16th, 2013
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Couple will depend on others for help in emergency.

“No emergency supplies.” Who will take care of them?

We sat at the 2nd Wednesday monthly meeting of our CERT Division Leaders and Special Team Leaders and stared gloomily as one of our members gave yet another status report about some of “her” residents in the community. “Not one extra can of food. Not one extra bottle of water.”

In some cases, elderly residents were handicapped by lack of funds. In others, the reason is plain apathy, procrastination or worse: “It’s the government’s job to provide for us in an emergency.”

Are “governments” responsible to care for us in a disaster? How capable are they?

We saw an answer to the second question in interviews by the media following Hurricane Sandy’s damage in New Jersey. Local and state governments were overwhelmed and unable to respond. Likewise, relief agencies like the Red Cross and Salvation Army were also overtaxed by the enormity of the event. Some people went weeks without services.

Here in California, following a major earthquake along the San Andreas Fault, all local government and disaster relief agencies are also likely to be overwhelmed. Further, they will be drawn to critically damaged areas to the north and east of us, leaving communities in our area to fend for themselves for up to a week or more.

Are you prepared to share with people who ignored warnings?

The question then becomes one of caring for irresponsible neighbors as well as ourselves in a disaster scenario. And that presents our responsible residents with untenable choices. We are admittedly better prepared than most. By all indications, over 50% of our residents indicate that they have some food and water set aside for just such an emergency, largely as a result of ongoing education programs that span a decade.

But 50% isn’t 100%. More needs to be done.

Maybe if we make a party out of preparing for emergencies . . .

One thing we might do is hold neighborhood survival kit stocking events. First, make a list of critical items (reliable flashlights, radios, can openers, etc.), together with optional food items and their recommended quantity. Research the best sources and prices. Come up with three or four versions of a survival kit.

Get as many neighbors as possible to pick a kit, and pay their money. Buy items in bulk for discounts or discounted shipping.

Then, when the supplies arrive, hold a party to “pick and pack your survival kit.” It’s at least worth a try. We’ll report on our results here.

 

ShelterBox – Here At Home

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013
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Over the past weekend we attended a Rotary International conference in Phoenix, Arizona. (Joe belongs to the “eclub” that’s centered there. It has members around the world who meet weekly online.) As always, Rotary impresses and inspires us with its programs, and ShelterBox was a highlight for us this time.

ShelterBox

150 lbs. of supplies in the ShelterBox

ShelterBox has been on the news a fair amount over the past few years; I remember Anderson Cooper in Haiti telling the audience how ShelterBox tents were being delivered after that terrible earthquake. And I read in the news just last week that ShelterBox was sending a response team into Moore, Oklahoma, to assess needs there.

It’s all in the name: ShelterBox.

What does ShelterBox do? Since 2000, the organization has provided emergency supplies such as tents, stoves, blankets and water filtration systems to help families rebuild their lives after losing their homes and possessions following a natural disaster or political conflict. Haiti was just one of their deployments; according to their website, they are currently at work in Jordan, Myanmar, and the Solomon Islands.

What’s in the box?

After all our recent focus on survival kits, it was interesting to see just what goes into a ShelterBox. The Box is meant to provide relief for an extended period, and for an extended family. The dome tent is modeled after a typical African bush hut, with built-in mosquito screens, groundsheets, ventilation and internal privacy screens so people can divide the space as they see fit. Thermal blankets, insulated ground sheets, treated mosquito nets and water purification equipment provide protection against contaminated water supplies.

The box contains a stove, pans, utensils; tools include a hammer, ax, saw, hoe, rope, pliers and wire cutters. There is also a children’s pack with books, crayons and pens. The volunteer at the Rotary conference told me that when a community is wiped out, setting up a school becomes a top priority, and these simple items can help get that started.

So what does this have to do with us?

  1. Action Item:  Check out the ShelterBox website and see what they’re doing. Read stories of survivors who’ve been served by this organization. It’s inspiring.
  2. Action Item:  Compare your list of long-term “survival supplies” with what goes into the ShelterBox. You may get an idea or two.
  3. Action Item:  Consider donating or volunteering.

You can learn more at www.shelterboxusa.org.

(P.S., just so you know, ShelterBox USA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization headquartered in Sarasota, Florida.)

 

Trapped In The Car

Sunday, June 2nd, 2013
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Cars in flooded street

Trying to escape!

How many stories have you heard in just the past few hours about people trapped in their cars due to severe weather? I’ve heard about hundreds, even thousands, of people — racing to avoid an oncoming hurricane, carried off roads by flood water, or just stuck for hours in massive traffic jams!

If you find yourself in one of those traffic jams . . .

and you are unable to escape before the storm hits, or unable to get home after the storm hits, what condition will you be in?

  • Do you know what action you and your family members in the car should take, and when?
  • What about being in touch with other family members that are outside the car?
  • What supplies will you have in the car to help you make it through the hours until you can get back home or to another safe place?

What can you do now, before the next storm hits?

Here are some very basic preparedness actions that the recent storms have reminded us about. You can take these steps NOW before the next storm hits!

1. Keep the car at least half full of gas at all times.

2. Have a map of the area in case you need to find alternate routes to get around traffic jams, road blockages, etc.

3. Know which radio channels broadcast weather information. On CNN we heard weather broadcasters telling people exactly what to expect by the minute.

4. If you get in your car, take your Survival Kit with you. Knowing you have some food, some water, some sanitary supplies, and some cash will be reassuring, at the very least. If you have to manage in the car for many hours, having this Kit will be a huge comfort.

5. If you take your pet in the car, take the Pet Survival Kit, too. I saw one man in flip-flops and a t-shirt whose passenger was his dog. Did the dog have food and water? An adult can understand that doing without is necessary for a while; an animal – or a small child – cannot.

Flooding facts, for review – thanks to FEMA.

More people drown in their cars than anywhere else.

Know the difference between a WATCH and a WARNING. A flood watch means a flood is possible in your area. A flood warning means flooding is already occurring or will occur soon in your area.

Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars causing loss of control and possible stalling. A foot of water will float many vehicles. What looks like six inches may not be; the road may be washed out below the water surface.

Two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles including sport utility vehicles (SUV’s) and pick-ups.

Stay in the car or get out?

Do not drive into flooded areas. But if floodwaters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground if you can do so safely. Do not stay in the car: it may stall or get stuck in the water, and then get pushed off the road. Once off the road, cars often start to roll, making escape impossible.

What’s your story?

What experiences have you had being trapped in a car? Share your stories with us and our readers. It may help save lives.

Thanks, Virginia

P.S.  If this article strikes a chord, please pass it along to friends and family.  Just copy this link and send it in an email:

http://www.emergencyplanguide.org/trapped-in-the-car/

 

Business Owner – Do you employ drivers?

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013
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Alley

Where will your driver be when the disaster hits?

Delivering services to homebound seniors

At a meeting last week at the local American Red Cross, we were discussing a new program aimed at preparing the senior community for disaster.

Most of the people in the room represented companies that deliver services to homebound seniors. There were folks from Meals-on-Wheels, SeniorServ, and a whole group of home health care providers.

Home health care staff members drive from home to home to assist their elderly clients. In the case of an earthquake disaster, these drivers will likely be on the road in their car or in the home of a client when the earthquake hits. The drivers will NOT be at their own home, and they will NOT be at their employer’s office.

Homes with few if any resources

These senior clients are people who, by definition, are not self-sufficient. They may be disabled or frail. This means that the driver, caught in the home with the client, will be faced with taking care of the client as well as him or herself.

If the driver is on the road when the earthquake hits, what is her responsibility? To continue on to the client’s home when possible? Return to the office? Or head for home to join the family?

Responsibility of the employer

This situation raises several issues for the employer that need to be addressed through training or investment in appropriate emergency supplies and equipment. Based on the group at the American Red Cross meeting, there was no one correct answer. But everyone agreed that these questions DID deserve consideration, and a positive answer.

1. Do your drivers all have an emergency supplies kit in their vehicle?

2. Does the kit contain enough to share with a client?

3. Are your drivers clear about their responsibility to their clients in the case of an emergency?

4. Do you know how you will communicate with your drivers in an emergency?

5. Do you have a plan for communicating with your clients’ families in an emergency?

Are you an employer with drivers?

What emergency preparations have you made to cover your staff and your customers?  What liability do you feel you carry as the employer?  Please share!

 

 

Emergency Supplies List

Friday, February 15th, 2013
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If you’re looking for a checklist, you’ll find many, many of them online. FEMA offers up a 26-item list; the American Red Cross has a 36-item list, and different commercial companies (selling tools, pre-made kits, insurance, dried food)  have their own lists, some of which extend to hundreds of items.

Different lists serve different purposes

Comprehensive checklist

Page One of list

Over the years we have created or used different lists for different purposes. For example,

* At an introductory neighborhood meeting, you may wish to distribute a simple, one-page list with items that apply to everyone and that won’t appear too intimidating.

* In a community where people have had some training, a more comprehensive list would be a good idea. (We wrote earlier about the “door-hanger list” that we created for our community.) Naturally, adding items appropriate for the geography would make sense: rain gear, for example, or cold-weather gear.

* In a senior community, a list might focus on items that apply to older people: 14-day supply of medicines (and how to get your doctor to give you extras), extra eyeglasses, batteries for hearing aids, etc.

* A community with pets needs a completely different set of reminders. (You can get a copy of our Emergency Pet Supplies Kit here.)

* A quick reminder card, useful for teaching, might have only a half-dozen items or a specific, focused list of supplies (for example, what you need in your first aid kit).

Our Emergency Supplies List

The Emergency Plan Guide has prepared its own comprehensive list. We have found that breaking it into three sections makes it easier for people to focus on. The three sections are:

 17 basic items for a 3-day emergency

 11 more categories for managing an extended, 14-day emergency

 10 essentials to take if you must evacuate

What’s important is to get your list, and then take the time to see what’s missing from it based on your family’s needs. Add those items to the list, and start assembling!

Like many families, you may need to prepare not only for the three situations listed above, but you may also want to put together specialty kits to carry in your cars, for students away from home, or for the office.

Get started now!

There is no time to assemble emergency supplies after the earthquake, after the storm has hit, after the fire has forced you out of your home.  Action item:  Download the Emergency Supplies Checklist and get started.

Virginia
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

P.S.  I am not called the “Queen of Lists” for nothing!  Stick around Emergency Plan Guide and you will discover a number of them. Lists help me think, and keep me on track.  I hope you’ll find them useful, too!