Emergency Supplies List for Your Home
Compiled by the “Seascape One - Aptos” CERT Team
The Seascape 1 CERT Team of Aptos has adopted the following list from the Red Cross and other emergency supply resources, then tailored them according to our climate and situation in Aptos. To keep every item on an IDEAL list in your home would take up a whole room (e.g. a generator, tents, biohazard suits and the like). We have therefore confined our list to the “musts” and highly desirable items, if you have the space. Keep the items you would most likely need during an evacuation in easy to carry, “grab-and-go” containers (e.g. a small covered trash container, backpack or duffel bag).
Note: The garage is not the best place to store emergency supplies. In most homes, it is the least structurally sound room due to the wide, unsupported garage door opening.
Emergency Preparedness at Home:
There are six basics to stock in your home:
WATER: Store one gallon of water per person per day for a three to five- day supply (2 quarts a day for drinking and 2 quarts a day for food preparation and sanitation). Store water in plastic containers such as soft drink bottles (look for the triangular recycling symbol with a number 1 on the bottom of the bottle, as those are best for water storage). Avoid using containers that will decompose or break, such as milk cartons or glass bottles. Store water in a cool, dark area away from direct sunlight, and replace supply every 6 months. Keep a 2% tincture of iodine (12 drops per gallon of water). However, don’t use iodine if you have a thyroid problem or are pregnant or nursing). You can also stock chlorine bleach (no soap additives, use 5-8 drops per gallon of water) on hand to purify. Remember that you have several sources of water already in your home that can be used in an emergency such as your hot water heater, toilet tanks (don’t use water from a tank that contains colored disinfectant, as it is poisonous), water pipes and ice in the freezer.
FOOD: Store at least a three day supply of non-perishable food that requires no refrigeration, cooking and little to no water for each person. Select food items that are compact and lightweight, and ideally low in salt. Include a selection of the following foods in you Disaster Supplies kit that could be transported from your home, should you need to evacuate: Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits and vegetables, canned juices, high-energy foods, staples (sugar, salt, pepper, etc.) vitamins, special food for infants and/or pets, comfort/stress foods (e.g. vacuum packed snack bars). If staying in your home eat food from the refrigerator first, then food from the freezer before using the non-perishable supplies. Also make sure supplies are on hand to prepare the food, such as an all-purpose knife, a non-electric can and bottle opener, aluminum foil and re-sealable plastic bags.
FIRST AID SUPPLIES: Assemble or purchase a standard first aid kit for your home, and one for each car. Include the usual items, plus some you may not normally think about such as sunscreen, latex gloves, moistened towelettes, aspirin, laxatives and other over-the-counter medications.
CLOTHING AND BEDDING: It is wise to keep a special set of clothing in the area that your family would congregate in case of an earthquake or evacuation (e.g. an inside room, a closet, etc.). These special items would include heavy-duty clothing for each (long-sleeved heavy shirt and jacket, heavy pants and socks and sturdy shoes or work boots, hats or hard hads, leather or other sturdy garden gloves, and enough blankets to cover everyone in the household. Also, consider sunglasses, an extra pair of prescription or reading glasses, and/or contact lenses/supplies. Keep sturdy shoes close to your bed, ideally in a plastic bag (to prevent glass or other debris from falling into them) and tied to a bed leg.
PET SUPPLIES: Keep your pets with you, because they face the danger of being left behind during an evacuation. Pets are not permitted in public shelters. Go instead to relatives or a friend’s home, or find a “pet-friendly” hotel. In your pet supply bag, include a three-day supply of pet food, extra water, three-day supply of any needed pet medications, a pet first-aid manual, antibacterial soap, hydrogen peroxide, a pet blanket, and perhaps a pet toy or chew bone (whatever is used to comfort your pet).
SPECIAL NEEDS: Any special needs such as prescription medications, supplements, medical aids, etc.
OTHER HIGHLY-DESIRABLE EMERGENCY SUPPLIES:
TOOLS: Flashlight with extra batteries, solar crank or battery-operated radio with extra batteries, utility knife, fire extinguisher, pliers, tape, matches (in a waterproof container), heavy colored chalk (for writing emergency messages on your house or garage door), small sewing kit, shut-off wrench for utilities, whistle, cash (bills and change) or travelers checks, cell phone (may not work during an emergency), and safety matches. Also, a pair of strong scissors, airtight goggles, dust masks and workers knee pads can also be helpful.
ENTERTAINMENT: If you and your family are isolated (especially without power) board games and books are psychologically indicated survival supplies.
SANITATION ITEMS: Toilet paper, towelettes, paper towels, liquid antibacterial soap, feminine supplies, deodorant, plastic garbage bags and ties (for sanitation uses), plastic bucket with tight lid (can be used to store supplies until needed for human waste disposal), disinfectant (e.g. household chlorine bleach). Toothbrushes and toothpaste, fingernail/toenail clippers, mouthwash and breath fresheners (for stress-related halitosis), brush and comb, lip balm, and sponges.
IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS: Copies of important documents should be stored in a remote, safe place. Keep these records in a waterproof and portable container. Wills, insurance policies, contracts, deeds, stocks and bonds, passports, social security cards, immunization records, bank account an credit card account numbers, inventories of valuable household goods, important telephone numbers and family records such as birth, marriage and death certificates. Store these in a place known to your trusted family members or friends.
What to Do if Disaster Strikes
If a major disaster occurs near your home while you are there, check for damage. Check for fires, fire hazards and other household hazards. Sniff for gas leaks, starting at the water heater. IF you smell gas or suspect a leak, turn off the main gas valve, open windows and get everyone outside quickly. Shut off any other damaged utilities. Confine or secure your pets. Call your family contact, then do not use the telephone again unless it is a life-threatening emergency. A CERT team may be able to help you make outside contact, since they have access to special resources. Check on your neighbors, especially those who are elderly or disabled. Write a message on the front of your house with big, colored chalk if you have a serious, immediate need for help. Do you know how to turn off your own power, water and (only if necessary) gas? If not, now is the time to learn!
If You Must Evacuate Your Home: wear long sleeved shirts, long pants, and sturdy shoes. Take along your disaster supplies kit. Lock your home. Use travel routes specified by local authorities, rather than taking shortcuts or alternate routes – certain areas may be impassable or dangerous at that time. Stay away from downed power lines. Stay tuned to local radio, and follow their instructions. If you have time, call your family contact to tell them where you are going and when you expect to arrive. Remember to take your pets with you. Always keep your car’s fuel tank at least half full, for if power is out, gas stations rely on electricity to power their pumps, and you may have to travel a long distance before refueling. When leaving your home, take as much of your home emergency supply items as possible, including a set of extra sturdy clothes and blankets, and grab your cell phone. You should store as many basic items as you can in your car at all times, including bottled water, sanitation kit, non-perishable food such as energy bars, first aid kit, safety matches, leather gloves, flashlight, and plastic bags. If your car has no radio, a portable one would be helpful. If you have additional room, a multi-function knife, tri-fold shovel, 50-foot nylon cord, paper plates, cups and plastic flatware, signal flare, and emergency candles are also helpful. Hopefully, you would be able to carry some emergency supplies from your home to supplement what you keep in your car.
Other Useful Information: If you have an electric garage door opener, know where the manual release lever is located and learn how to operate it. Some garage doors are heavy, so get help lifting it. If you regularly use the garage as the primary means of entering your home, be sure to keep a key to your house with you (in case a power outage causes you to be unable to enter through the garage).
Create an emergency communications plan. Choose an out-of-town contact for your family to call or email to check on each other, should a disaster occur. Establish a meeting place, in case any members of your family become separated. Try to make the plan flexible (if X, then Y but if A then Z) to ensure the wisest course of action is used during the emergency.
When thinking about disasters, we often realize that our most valuable material possessions are not our jewels and other expensive belongings, but rather our memorabilia such as photo albums. Now might be the time to consider taking advantage of the technology that can transfer your photographs and other visual treasures (E.G. that special Mothers Day card) to a CD-ROM or DVD disk. An added bonus is that loved ones can also have a copy of these digital family albums. You can retain the originals, but would know that they were preserved by family members as well. Many can do this themselves with a CD or DVD burner (which often comes with newer computers), a scanner, and photo-related software programs.
Homeland Security: Many Neighborhood Watch programs are now including Homeland Security issues. Some tips given include briefly but carefully looking at your mail to check for any odd unexpected packages, or white powdery substances, and reporting any packages left on the curb or other unusual place (like a bus stop or mall), as well as any conversations overheard regarding money laundering or attack plans. This “thinking out of the box” about what we have heretofore not taken into consideration is what Homeland Security leaders have asked us to do, to help become their “ears and eyes”.