How to Prepare for the Next Disaster

Here in Southern California, we worry about earthquakes. We also worry about wildfires, tsunamis and mudslides.

In the midwest, there are tornadoes. On the east coast, hurricanes, like Hurrican Sandy, which devastated huge portions of the eastern seaboard.

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I’ve been through some wild weather and quite a few earthquakes. When I lived on Long Island, I experienced plenty of power outages due to weather, and I remember vividly the great ice storm of 1974 (or was it 1975?), when it seemed like my entire town packed our bags and went to visit grandma and grandpa in Florida for winter break. The trees looked like they belonged in a fairy tale, covered in heavy, dangerous ice, and the houses were strung not with Christmas lights but with icicles. It was, despite the treacherous roads and possibility of impalement by a falling tree branch, quite beautiful.

However, there’s nothing like the earthquakes here in California to really make you feel, well, unsteady. For those of you who have been in an earthquake, you know what I mean – there’s the jolting, sudden kind that makes you feel as if your house has been hit by a car, and then there’s the (much more disturbing in my opinion) rolling, long lasting kind that turns the ground underneath your feet into a form of liquid dirt and makes you feel like you’re on a boat. With a hurricane or a tornado you can see what’s happening, but an earthquake comes from inside the earth, is impossible to predict, and the only visible signs come after it hits. Some believe there’s something called “earthquake weather,” when it’s especially hot and still, but they hit anytime, day or night, summer or winter.

I take comfort in being prepared for any disaster that may come my way. I have a red cross kit in my car with emergency supplies, and I have a large, plastic, covered tub from Rubbermaid in my garage with many things that I might need if when the big one hits – that’s assuming, of course, I can get into my garage. I have a pool filled with water. At any given time I have at least 3 cases of bottled water in my garage, too. Zippo sent me a firestarter to test out, and it works so well that I will add that to my kit, also.
Zippo emergency fire starter kit, earthquake preparedness, disaster preparedness, family safety, staying safe in a disaster, midlife, empty nest, baby boomer

Here are some of the things I keep on hand, things you may not have thought of. Use this list to create your emergency kit for your family, whatever disaster you may be preparing for. Whenever a big earthquake hits, many people get busy after the fact gathering items for their disaster kit. Why not take care of it now, before anything happens?

-copies of everyone’s driver’s licenses
-a crank style radio and/or a battery operated radio and extra batteries (don’t forget to replace batteries every 2 years)
-a manual can opener and canned food
-plastic forks and spoons
-extra heavy-soled shoes and socks for each member of the household
-toothbrushes and toothpaste
-hand sanitizer
-peanut butter crackers, beef jerky, raisins – any nutritious food that can keep without refrigeration for a long time
-a first aid kit
-feminine hygiene products
-large trash bags
-toilet paper
-if you have small children, a few games, crayons, and toys are a good idea
-any prescription medications that are vitally important – especially Xanax (this is a disaster kit)
-a substantial amount of cash – in a disaster there may be no way to access money electronically, and then cash will be king. Put aside as much as you are comfortable with in a safe place for just such an event.

The big one – earthquake, hurricane, tornado – is coming – it’s not IF but WHEN. Get yourself and your family ready.

26 Responses to How to Prepare for the Next Disaster
  1. Alison @ Under the Big Oak Tree
    October 29, 2012 | 7:16 am

    Thanks for the tips! My husband would love one of those zippo lighters! I’ll have to add it to his Christmas list!
    Alison @ Under the Big Oak Tree recently posted..Menu Plan Monday 2012 ~ Week of October 29thMy Profile

  2. Grown and Flown
    October 29, 2012 | 7:34 am

    Have to agree with you that earthquakes are the worst. I am from Northridge and now live in NY and we certainly have a lot of time to prepare for hurricanes and the like. Was thrown from my bed in a big earthquake in 1971, it is not something that you forget. Great list Sharon, we have our firewood piled up and our bathtubs full of water as well!
    Grown and Flown recently posted..Calm Before the Storm, Hurricane SandyMy Profile

  3. Mariah
    October 29, 2012 | 7:48 am

    I really need to update my hurricane kit. I keep saying I’ll do it and then I put it off. But you never know when disaster could hit!
    Mariah recently posted..Very Busy Spider Web CraftMy Profile

  4. Natalie Johnson
    October 29, 2012 | 7:49 am

    The hurricane seems to be a deadly one. In case of natural calamity, the earthquake is the most dangerous. It can destroy the surroundings in a few seconds of shaking. I hate that from my heart.

    Thanks Sharon for the crucial list. Blessings!!
    Natalie Johnson recently posted..מחשוב ענןMy Profile

    • Sharon Greenthal
      October 29, 2012 | 6:58 pm

      That’s what’s so terrifying – you just don’t know how big it will be when it begins.

  5. Kristin Wheeler (MamaLuvsBooks)
    October 29, 2012 | 7:56 am

    That is so scary! Thanks for the tips! I’ve felt an earthquake before and it was the scariest feeling!!! Yikes!
    Kristin Wheeler (MamaLuvsBooks) recently posted..Champions for Kids ~ Dial Into Giving SIMPLE Service Project #DialCFK #CBiasMy Profile

  6. Lisa @ Grandma's Briefs
    October 29, 2012 | 8:49 am

    Great list. My family and I were visiting Disneyland and left the day before the Northridge earthquake. Considering earthquakes out west, hurricanes out east, I’m thankful to live in Colorado, where the worst is crazy snowstorms now and then. Oh, and wildfires, of course.

    Stay safe, one and all!
    Lisa @ Grandma’s Briefs recently posted..Photo replay: Grandma playdateMy Profile

    • Sharon Greenthal
      October 29, 2012 | 6:58 pm

      I guess up in the mountains in Colorado you’d have to watch out for avalanches…

  7. sue
    October 29, 2012 | 10:13 am

    Thanks for such a great list. I have none of these in a prepared container and I should. I just heard on the radio exactly what you say about having money set aside too. Take care everyone in the path of this storm.
    sue recently posted..Orange Houses – Exterior House ColorsMy Profile

  8. Tee
    October 29, 2012 | 10:59 am

    Thanks for the list! I’m definitely not prepared for a major earthquake! I’m from New England and I remember tree branches looking like that!

  9. pattie
    October 29, 2012 | 2:20 pm

    We purchased one of those hand cranked radios just for this type of occasion. Thank you for the reminder to get the rest of the kit in order.
    pattie recently posted..Updating Fall Wardrobes with Cookie’s Kids | @CookiesKids #CookiesKids #CbiasMy Profile

    • Sharon Greenthal
      October 29, 2012 | 6:57 pm

      You’re welcome – it’s something we all forget about until something happens!

  10. Sydney Harrison
    October 29, 2012 | 6:31 pm

    I experienced the deadliness of Earthquake in my life several times. The situation during the earthquake cannot be described in words. It is horrible & devastating. Thanks for your graceful thinking about making a list of significant things during disaster.

    Best wishes.
    Sydney Harrison recently posted..engagement ring under $1000My Profile

    • Sharon Greenthal
      October 29, 2012 | 6:56 pm

      Thanks for reading, Sydney. It is a very terrifying experience!

  11. trina
    October 29, 2012 | 8:48 pm

    Thanks for the great tips. In terms of natural disasters, I would rather be in an earthquake than anything else, but maybe that’s my familiarity with them. But it’s always good to be prepared, even if you are used to them.

  12. Brenda
    October 30, 2012 | 7:33 am

    Good list and a reminder for those of us on the West Coast in earthquakeville. I grew up in So Cal but now I live in San Francisco.
    Brenda recently posted..A Ring of FireMy Profile

  13. Kim, Rambling Family Manager
    October 31, 2012 | 9:45 am

    I’m on the east coast so hurricanes are the worry for me. I would add one additional item to your list- work gloves. I keep a couple of pairs in my car and several pairs at home. After cleaning up from Andrew (which destroyed my mom’s house) I realized how vitally important they are! You can get a lot more done if your hands are protected. If you are trying to evacuate and there is debris in the road they would prove pretty useful as well.
    Kim, Rambling Family Manager recently posted..Dietary Changes and What They Can Teach YouMy Profile

    • Sharon Greenthal
      October 31, 2012 | 7:29 pm

      Great suggestion, Kim. I’ll have to add some to my kit!

  14. House Crazy Sarah
    November 2, 2012 | 2:48 pm

    Great advice – and you mentioned a couple of things that I hadn’t though of (fem hygiene products!)
    I live in Colorado so one of my fears is getting snowed in for weeks, or worse, getting stuck in the middle of nowhere in my car in a snowstorm.
    House Crazy Sarah recently posted..Houses vs. the HurricaneMy Profile

  15. Haralee
    November 6, 2012 | 9:32 pm

    My husband is the boyscout prepared guy of the family but I know in his disaster tubs he does not have copies of drivers licenses or cash. Thanks for the list that no one wants to have to use but would be glad they did!
    Haralee recently posted..WelcomeMy Profile

  16. Carpool Goddess
    October 30, 2013 | 7:49 am

    I don’t think I’ve replenished my earthquake kit since my kids were little. Thanks for the reminder!
    Carpool Goddess recently posted..On My Way To Bed Book Review & GiveawayMy Profile

  17. Karen Sandoval
    October 30, 2013 | 10:08 am

    You know what I love about ice storms? The sounds. The last big one I remember back home in PA that shut everything down was beautiful. When the sun came up in the morning everything glittered. The tinkling sound that branches make when they are covered with ice is just fantastic. But, this is coming from someone who stands on the porch when storms are approaching right up until the very last minute… I’m a weather nut.

    I have one of these lighters in our emergency kit too. :)
    Karen Sandoval recently posted..50 Something and That Blasted Internal FurnaceMy Profile

  18. Haralee
    October 30, 2013 | 12:17 pm

    Thanks for the list. My husband is Mr. Be Prepared. Just yesterday he was restocking some canned foods.
    Haralee recently posted..I finished LAST in a charity walkMy Profile

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