The earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disasters in Japan last
month have certainly shifted my thinking toward emergency
preparedness. Although home organization most often centers around
clutter-free surfaces and tidy drawers, being prepared for an
emergency is also part of getting your house in order. Here are
some important things to do before disaster strikes:
Start by creating a list in your phone or address book of
important numbers to call in case of an emergency. Include a list
of family members who would need to be contacted. If this is a
paper list, consider laminating it and keeping it near the home
Most phones nowadays are electric, so many of my clients keep an
old-style rotary dial phone handy in case the power goes out. This
especially makes sense if you have sketchy cell service at your
Backpacks (the day pack size), one for each family member,
should be stocked with emergency supplies. Store a couple in the
trunk of your car, since getting stuck on a cold lonely road can go
from bummer to emergency with the arrival of a few feet of snow.
The pack should contain a blanket, flashlight and batteries,
matches and lighters, a few small water bottles, nutrition bars,
toilet paper, a change of clothing, warm socks and a poncho. If you
have extra medication, such as asthma inhalers, put them in. Those
instant hand-warmers that come in small chemical packets are also a
At home, make sure you have at least some canned and boxed food
stored. This stuff doesn’t keep forever, so store only food you
will actually eat and replace it on a regular basis. One gallon of
water per person per day is a rule of thumb, so have enough stored
for each family member for three days. If you have room, store a
little extra. A good first aid kit (you can buy them stocked) is
also a must have.
It’s possible you will never have to use your pack in an
emergency, but it is important to use and replace any water, food
and medications on a regular basis. Using the perishables and
replacing them every three months should be enough to ensure that
they remain fresh and viable, but check the expiration dates to be
sure. Make sure your children know where their packs are. Stashing
them under each individual’s bed is not a bad idea.
A battery-operated radio and extra batteries are good to have in
one or two locations (one in an emergency pack and one at home).
Better yet: a solar-powered radio. Those flashlights that work on a
little hand crank power system are wonderful too — the less we
depend on batteries the better.
Get your CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) certificate and
renew it regularly.
Copies of your driver’s license, insurance policies and passport
should also be kept in a sealed plastic bag in your emergency
Don’t run on empty. Fill up your vehicles and keep your phone
and other gear charged. You want to always be in ready position for
There are many, many things you can do to prepare for an
emergency; these are just a few things to get you started. Your
home insurance agent should be able to review your home and make
suggestions for safety strategies as well as emergency procedures.
For more information, contact ready.gov, fema.gov or redcross.org.
I was really impressed with Napa City’s website as well. Go to
cityofnapa.org, where you can find information on emergency
prevention and preparedness.