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How to Prepare for an Emergency
A natural disaster can happen at any time. Some
disasters give warning like a storm preceding a flood. Others, like
earthquakes give no warning. Once a disaster happens, the time to
prepare is gone and all you can do is cope. Take the next few minutes
to examine what you can do to prepare. Anything
you do today to will be like making a deposit in your survivability savings
account for withdrawal in tough times.
TheEpicenter.com has composed a list
of recommended supplies for your car, home, and work location.
At a minimum, you should prepare to be isolated and on your own for at
least a minimum of 3 days and nights. There will likely be the loss
of utilities after a disaster. Power outages are a given, but water
may be scarce as well. The phone system may be inoperable.
Your only source of news will be the car radio, assuming your local radio
station has generator equipment. There might not be medical help
for minor cuts or broken bones for several days.
the loss of power come side affects you may not think of. There will
be no gasoline available. (Without power, there is no way to pump
the gas.) You might be far from home. Your car's heater might
be your only source of heat. The money in your pocket will have to last
until power is returned. Some supplies may be available, but buying
some items like a manual can opener will be impossible. Cash cards
will be useless if power or phone lines are lost. Many stores will
have a hard time opening since items don't have prices on them anymore,
thanks to scanning cash registers! You get the picture.
You could be just about anywhere when a disaster
strikes; in the bathroom, driving to the store, sitting at your desk at
work, or in the back yard. But remember, you will most likely be
at, or near one of the following:
You need to have supplies on hand at each location.
It may sound like overkill, but you can't expect all three locations to
be unscathed if a large disaster strikes. If you store provisions
at each location, you will cover most of the likely situations. Another
note: pets may not be allowed into shelters for health and space reasons.
Prepare an emergency pen for pets in the home that includes a 3-day supply
of dry food and a large container of water.
Let's look at some things you can do to prepare
- Read your company's evacuation plan! Note the designated meeting locations
for after an evacuation.
- Each time you enter a room, take note of the exit routes and locations
of fire extinguisher and medical kits.
Note locations of stairways as you walk from location to location.
- Keep your own personal supplies in your desk in a single pack of some kind
that you can access quickly. Along with your supplies, store a pair
of walking shoes.
- Be sure you have composed a card to carry in your wallet or purse with
important phone numbers including the number of your out of state phone
- Keep the area under your desk free of waste-paper baskets and the like.
This 6 square foot area might be home during a few traumatic moments.
- If you are not at your desk when something happens, don't count on being
able to make it back. Store additional supplies in your car (see below).
Home is where you can do the most to be prepared. But remember that
you are only home for about 1/2 of the hours in a day. You must also be
prepared at work, and have additional supplies in your car.
- Strap gas appliances to walls or floor, especially the water heater.
Remember your water heater is a large source of water, and weighs several
hundred pounds when full. A four hundred pound water heater will break
gas lines on its way to the floor. Gas appliances are a real danger in
an earthquake, and are the cause of most fires after a quake.
- Verify your house is bolted to its foundation.
- Repair defective electrical wiring and leaky gas connections. These are
potential fire risks.
- Brace overhead light fixtures.
- Replace solid gas lines with flexible lines on stoves, water heaters, and
- Nail plywood on top of ceiling joists inside the attic to protect people
from chimney bricks that could fall through the ceiling.
Know your house
- Find out where the utility shutoffs are for water, power, and gas.
- Place a flashlight
or an emergency light
next to your breaker panel.
- Place a wrench in your water meter box located near the street.
- Place or attach a
tool on your gas meter for turning off the gas.
- Evaluate each room in your house. Ask yourself: what will fall on my head,
or will keep me from getting out if it fell? Secure anything you
find. Hang heavy items such as pictures and mirrors away from beds,
couches, and anywhere people sit.
- Fasten shelves securely to walls and place large or heavy objects on lower
- Store breakable items such as bottled foods, glass, and china in low, closed
cabinets with latches.
- Store household chemicals on a bottom shelf of a closed cabinet.
Never store bleach and ammonia in the same cabinet. These
chemicals, when mixed, will create a toxic gas as deadly as any ever created.
- Identify the best and worst places to be in your house. Remember that you
might not have any choice as to where you will be located when a disaster
strikes. The best places inside the house are under major beams that are
secured to the rest of the structure, or in strong doorways, or inner structural
walls. The worst places are in front of windows, or near fireplaces and
- Make an emergency plan including escape routes and meeting places.
Choose both a nearby meeting place and an out of state relative to be your
check in contact for the family.
- Test your emergency plan with all members of the family present.
- Plug emergency lighting
into selected outlets. (These flashlights are constantly charged,
and turn on automatically when power fails, or when the units are unplugged.)
- Keep all tree and shrub limbs trimmed so they don't come in contact with
- Keep trees adjacent to buildings free of dead or dying wood.
- Store combustible or flammable materials in approved safety containers
and keep them away from the house.
- Install smoke detectors on every level of your home and near sleeping areas.
your neighbors, and neighborhood
- Contact your school district to obtain policy regarding how children will
be released from school.
- Know the location of the nearest police and fire stations, as well as the
route to the nearest hospital emergency room.
- Meet with neighbors and find out who has medical experience.
- If you are taking this preparedness thing seriously, share this information
with the households next to you. The more people you can convince to prepare,
the greater your group resources. Remember that you will be called upon
by all around you for help, especially by those who didn't take warnings
seriously. (Remember Noah?)
- Give spare keys to your trusted neighbors. Show them where the utility
shutoffs are and provide them with a list of contact phone numbers.
- Ask how to turn off your neighbors utilities.
Hold a home evacuation drill to test your emergency plan with all members
of the family present.
Teach your children how to get help from neighbors and 911.
Keep photos of family members in wallet in case they turn up missing.
Teach household members how to turn off utilities.
In case family members are separated from one another during an earthquake
(a real possibility during the day when adults are at work and children
are at school), develop a plan for reuniting after the disaster.
Ask an out of state relative or friend to serve as the "family contact."
After a disaster, it's often easier to call long distance. Make sure
everyone in the family knows the name, address, and phone number of the
In Your Car
- Always keep your gas tank full! Fill it when it reaches 1/2 a tank.
You will thank yourself the first time you are stuck in a traffic jam in
the dead of winter. (A few years ago in my home town of Seattle,
a winter storm took us by surprise and crippled the city with abandoned
vehicles. Most of them ran out of gas while waiting for accidents
to be cleared from the roads.)
- Think of your car's trunk as a big steel supply cabinet. Keep your
supplies in the trunk along with other items like tools, jumper cables
and spare tire.
- Even if you are at home when a disaster strikes, and your home is well
stocked, you may still need the supplies in your car. Your house may not
be safe to enter, or may catch fire after a disaster like an earthquake
(like many houses in Kobe, Japan or the Marina District of San Francisco).
- Your car will be one of your most important resources after a disaster
strikes. Keep it mechanically sound, and pay close attention to the
exhaust system. A leaking exhaust system could kill.
- Replace your battery every 2-3 years. In an emergency, your car battery
will need to run the radio and heater for extended periods.
a mechanic check the following items on your car to keep it ready
Wipers and windshield washer fluid
Lights and flashing hazard
Make sure the tires have adequate tread
The following list of supplies are slanted to items
for your home. After all, home is where you have the largest space
available for your supplies. This is an ideal list and we at TheEpicenter.com
realize that some of these items might be a bit out of reach for many.
Look the list over, and try to understand why some of the items are listed.
What we all really need to survive is food, water, and shelter. Beyond
these three categories, everything else is just for comfort. But
again, anything you can put away will be greatly appreciated in time of
- 30 gallons per person (2 gallons per person per day for 1 week). This might
sound excessive, but look at your water bill this month! This figure
assumes that when at home, you will occassionally want a sponge bath, or
to cook something like pasta or rice. You might even wash your hair
or clothes, and will eventually flush a toilet. Large food grade
gallon plastic drums are ideal for bulk water storage. A good
location is in your detached garage. Remember that your water heater
in the house is typically 50 gallons, and may be used if your dwelling
survives. Additional water may be purchased in single use plastic
bottles, and should be stored away from the house or garage. Remember
that these water bottles will need to be rotated out since they have a
limited shelf life unless water
treatment is used. Another, perhaps better solution is to store
coast guard approved water
rations which are also available from TheEpicenter.com.
- Canned goods - ready to eat soups, meats, veggies and fruit. The
same type of food you normally have on hand. Make a point to start
buying extra of whatever you normally buy, to dedicate to your supplies.
Date the top of anything you buy with a black permanent marker.
- Plan for a minimum of 3 cans per person per day for a week, about 2 mixed
cases per person. Store these items in suitcases near corners of
the house. Additional food should be stored in the garage, and at another
location away from the dwelling. Pay close attention to how the packaging
will hold up to damp environments. Cans will rust unless you protect
them. A good way to protect an item for damp storage is to put it
in a zip lock bag, then pack it inside a food grade plastic bucket
(with lid). Remember to maximize canned goods with moisture content
like ready to eat soup. Don't forget a manual can opener! No power,
no way to open cans!
- MRE's - Meals ready to eat.
These are ideal for outside storage. Remember, the key is to distribute
your supplies at various locations. These may be stored in the worst
of conditions. Long shelf life with no rotation. Click here
for more information on
- Long shelf life Freeze dried
or Dehydrated foods. But remember, these items require water.
- Pet foods (as needed).
Barbecue, 40 pounds charcoal, and two cans of
starter fluid. Or a propane unit with two 20 pound containers of
propane. A propane camp stove may also be used.
Store the following items for use with above:
Pot and pan for cooking
Water proof matches or lighter
Zip lock bags
Aluminum foil. A must! Can be formed into just about anything
you might need.
First aid kit. TheEpicenter.com has several
First Aid kits available.
One is ideal for your car supplies and another is ideal for the home.
We also recommend taking a first aid class including CPR.
Also store the following items:
First aid manual
Extra prescription medications
Aspirin or Ibuprofen
Flashlight with 2
sets of spare alkaline batteries and one spare bulb. Newer LED
flashights are also available and run much longer on a set of batteries.
Lantern battery, kerosene or
propane powered. Store fuel or batteries, but never use fuel based lighting
until you are sure gas leaks are eliminated.
Waterproof matches or lighter
AM/FM radio. Store at least 3 sets of alkaline batteries for standard
units. Inexpensive radios are available from your local Radio Shack.
The best radio is one that has rechargeable NI-cads built in, and may be
charged with the built-in solar cell, or by cranking on a built in generator
handle. This solar/generator survival
radio is available from Epicenter. We recommend
this radio for your supplies in your car as well.
Pen, pencil, and paper pad. Store in zip lock bag.
Stamped postcards. Store in zip lock bags. Your house might
be gone, but if you still have a mailbox, the mail will continue service.
An easy way to stay in touch with family far away.
List of important phone numbers, including your out of state focal
Weather radio or police scanner. A bit expensive, but a weather radio
is a must in tornado or hurricane country.
Fire extinguisher large 5-20 pound, type ABC
Crow bar, 1 ft min.
pocket tool or knife
Plastic tarp, 9x12 ft min
rope, 100 foot
tool for shutting of gas and water main valves
Make your selection based on what really needs to be powered and the run
time of the model. Our recommendation is for a maximum size of 5 HP, 2250
Watt 120 vac only. To get a 230 vac generator will require an 8 HP motor,
and your run time will drop in half. Typically, the only items in your
house that will require 230 vac is an electric heating system, an electric
water heater, or an electric range. What you really need to power is a
refrigerator, a few lights, and a radio.
for running 120 volt items from car battery.
chemical toilet and disinfectant
Store in garage away from house. You will only need this if your
dwelling is damaged, or if your water supply is limited.
Toilet tissue rolls. Store inside portable toilet.
Garbage bags. Can also be used as toilet liners.
All purpose liquid soap
Tooth brush and paste
Feminine hygiene items
Gallon of disinfectant
stuff (if needed):
Baby formula and plastic bottles
Large box disposable diapers
Pre-moistened wet wipes
Baby blanket and knit cap
Two or three complete change of baby clothes
One complete change of clothing for each person
Pair of boots each person
Phone change. $6.50 in quarters fit in a plastic 35 mm film container nicely
$50 cash min, in ones, five's, and tens
Duplicate credit cards
Photo copies of ID
Components should be placed in a good quality backpack.
has developed several backpacks
with many of the items below. Additional items may be purchased from local
sources. Store backpack in trunk of car.
Take a look around your work site. You will find
that state and federal regulations have required your employer to have
fire extinguishers and first aid kits at key locations. Some employers
are beginning to place chemical light sticks in some areas, but you need
to plan for the worst. You need the supplies to be on your own for
three days. It may take you that long to get home, and don't count
on your car being accessible if you park in a parking building. TheEpicenter.com
has several basic supply
that are ideal for your desk.
to do during an Earthquake!
The following list is tailored to responding to
a disaster that gives no warning like an earthquake. Some responses
may not make sense if you are going through a hurricane for example.
Look over the list and see what applies.
You are inside:
Stay inside. The most dangerous thing to do during the shaking of
an earthquake is to try to leave the building because objects can fall
Duck under a sturdy table or desk. Cover head, neck and face.
Hold on to a table leg, so you're not tossed free of cover.
If a table is not near by, drop to the floor and move toward the nearest
inside wall avoiding all windows and objects that could fall. Cover
head, neck and face.
Go nowhere else until the shaking stops! Where ever you are when
it hits is home for the duration!
If you are inside a large and crowded facility like a stadium, stay put!
Thousands might trample you on the way to an exit. Cover your head. You
have a better chance of riding the quake out where you are.
You are in your car:
Stop your car away from buildings, overpasses and power lines if possible.
Stay in car until shaking stops.
Turn off the engine, but not until your car is stopped. Many cars will
lock the steering wheel if you turn off the ignition.
Turn on your radio.
Occasionally run the engine to keep warm if needed. Turn on the car's engine
for about 10 minutes each hour. Run the heater when the car is running.
Beware of carbon monoxide poisoning, and keep a downwind window slightly
open for ventilation.
You are outside:
Drop, and cover. Move toward an open area if possible away from power
lines and structures.
Once in the open, stay there until the shaking stops.
Move away from cliffs, or embankments.
If you are near tall buildings, duck under doorways. It is estimated
that the streets of Seattle will be covered by 12 feet of broken glass
in some areas after a major quake.
Get away from power lines!
to do after a quake!
Move away from rivers. A major quake may send mud and water down
river beds, or worse yet might breach dams upstream.
If you are near body of water, move to higher ground. A tsunami is
a real threat!
Stay off 911 unless life threatening.
Hang up any phones that are off the hook.
Check for hazards like precarious structures, downed power lines and gas
Turn off gas mains first. Turn off main power breakers only if no
gas is smelled.
Fill your bath tub, and any pots and pans right away.
Look for broken water pipes and turn off main.
Give aid to anyone who is injured.
If electricity is out, stay out of refrigerator and freezer.
Freezer items will be OK for up to 3 days if the door is not opened.
Items in the refrigerator will be OK for about 8 hours. Use the
items in the refrigerator first, and trust your nose. If it doesn't
smell right, throw it out.
If you use a generator, use extension cords unless you have the proper
cutout wiring installed by a qualified electrician.
Prepare for after shocks. Anything you thought might fall and didn't,
Turn off power to your hot water heater if you plan to use the stored water
it contains. Use a hose to obtain water from the drain spigot.
Eat food from the refrigerator first, then from the freezer. Eat canned
food and MRE's last.
Inside or around the house:
Open closet and cupboard doors cautiously.
Inspect the entire length of chimneys carefully for damage. Unnoticed
damage could lead to a fire.
Check for gas leaks. If you smell gas or hear blowing or hissing
noise, open a window and quickly leave the building. Turn off the
gas at the outside main valve if you can and call the gas company from
a neighbor's home. If you turn off the gas for any reason, it must
be turned back on by a professional.
Look for electrical system damage. If you see sparks or broken or
frayed wires, or if you smell hot insulation, turn off the electricity
at the main fuse box or circuit breaker.
Check for sewage and water lines damage. If you suspect sewage lines
are damaged, avoid using the toilets and call a plumber. If water pipes
are damaged, contact the water company and avoid using water from the tap.
You can obtain safe water by melting ice cubes, or from your water heater.
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Epicenter Supplies, LLC
384 Wallis Street #2
Eugene, OR 97402
Phone: 541-684-0717 | Fax: 541-338-9050
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