Prepared for disaster means lots of supplies.

Courtesy Emergency Prep Supplies

Unless your head has been buried deeply in the sand, you’re increasingly aware of potential disasters that may affect us here in the Northwest.  Examples abound: a Cascadia subduction earthquake event, a virulent pandemic flu outbreak, or even, heaven help us, a missile strike from south Asia. You have probably thought about how to prepare for such an event, how to safeguard yourself and your family for an initial period of a few days to a month when power and communications could be out, and emergency services would be, temporarily at least, unable to keep up with public demand.  But to be prepared seems overwhelming.  So approach the task in “bite-sized” steps. 

There are two elements of disaster preparedness that are most often mentioned:  the first one is commonly called a “go-bag”, or transportable bag that is kept handy at all times in case of an emergency.  A go-bag is typically not more than a backpack or sack that contains emergency supplies for three days.  Supplies for a go-bag normally include a change of clothing (preferably including a layer or two in case of heavy weather), food and water for three days, medication if needed, a flashlight, first-aid kit, some eating utensils and a pair of sturdy shoes.   Other items that are less obvious but could come in handy are a battery-run radio, can opener, matches, toilet paper, gloves, and water-purification tablets.  Keep the go-bag in your car or at your workplace.  

The second element of preparedness is a more substantial cache of supplies that will normally be kept at home, in a garage or shed.  This cache will keep you and your family supplied for two to three weeks, and should be kept in a location that can be reached even in cases of structural damage to your home (on the roof, for example, is not a good idea).  When you are considering a longer timeframe such as this, it’s important to remember that certain supplies will need to be replenished.  A good example is batteries.  These will be needed for the radio, flashlight, possibly a lantern.  If damage to your home requires you to sleep outdoors, you will want to have a tent and sleeping bag(s) as part of your kit. Think about everything you need and use in your daily life.  What items are essential and which ones can you live without?  Some items might be needed just because of the nature of the emergency, for example, hand sanitizer, or water purification tablets or filter.  What will you need to cook food if you’re outdoors?  And then of course you should have enough food and water to keep you and your loved ones supplied for two to three weeks.  Freeze-dried foods can be kept in vacuum-packed bags for long periods of time. Include some power bars and snacks.  

It’s a good exercise to imagine yourself in the first few minutes after an emergency:  what will you need right away?  In addition to supplies, you may want to have an emergency plan in place with your family, that has agreed-on contact persons, a place to meet, how to communicate if cellphone service is down. Check with first responders in your area to find out where public assembly areas are located. Be prepared – it’s not as hard as it seems!

For more information or assistance in creating your own emergency prep kit please visit www.emergencyprepsupplies.net