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.
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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
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.


  1. says

    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!
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  2. Natalie Johnson says

    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!!
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  3. says

    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!
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  4. says

    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!

  5. Sydney Harrison says

    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

  6. says

    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.

  7. says

    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.
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  8. says

    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

  9. says

    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!
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  10. says

    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. :)
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