Get prepared for disasters for TWO WEEKS by spreading out the cost and effort over 12 months!
Month 1: Store two weeks of emergency
water per person
Why? An earthquake can damage water systems.
Get a gallon of water for each person in your home.
Keep adding water each week until you have 14 gallons of water per person.
- Buy commercially bottled water or bottle your own.
- Store water around your home in places such as under sinks and in closets.
- Learn how to access water already stored in your home and how to properly store water. Read the Take 5 Emergency Water flyer.
Months 2 and 3: Store two weeks of emergency food per person
Why? Stores may be closed after a disaster or shelves may be empty.
Get enough food for a breakfast, lunch and dinner for each person in your home.
Keep adding food each week until you have two weeks of food per person.
- Dry cereal
- Instant oatmeal
- Breakfast bars
- Canned fruits
- Protein bars
- Peanut butter
- Ramen noodles
- Canned non-perishable foods: soup, stew, chili
- Canned vegetables
- Freeze-dried foods
- Focus on long shelf-life items such as canned, dried, dehydrated and freeze-dried foods.
- Write expiration dates on foods and use or donate them before they expire.
- Get foods your family likes to eat and if needed, provide for special diets and baby foods.
- Get creative to find ways to stretch meals. Canned chicken broth and canned vegetables are an inexpensive way to stretch a can of chili or soup.
- To heat food or boil water, use a portable stove or BBQ grill outdoors. Learn how to use them safely. Get matches and extra fuel.
Month 4: Get emergency medical supplies
Why? Medical supplies can save a life.
Get a first aid kit. Tell everyone where it is kept.
Refill prescriptions as quickly as insurance will allow. If possible, save a few pills each month and work toward a two-week emergency supply. Speak to your medical provider about getting emergency-use medications and supplies.
- Get copies of prescriptions, medical information and emergency-use medications. Place them inside a sealable bag and label it with your name and medication expiration dates. Make one for each person.
- Check medication expiration dates every year and use them before they expire.
- To save money, make your own first aid kit. Visit the Red Cross to learn more: www.rdcrss.org/2vN6nNL
Month 5: Make an emergency toilet and get sanitation supplies
Why? After an earthquake toilets may not work for weeks or months.
Make a twin-bucket emergency toilet: two 5-gallon buckets, label one “pee” and the other “poo.”
Store extra plastic garbage bags, toilet paper, hand wipes, sanitizing hand gel and natural material such as wood shavings, ground dried leaves or shredded paper.
- Store twin bucket and hygiene supplies inside your buckets.
- Get toilet seats that are made to fit on a 5-gallon bucket.
- Learn more about disaster sanitation. Read the Take 5 Disaster Sanitation flyer.
Month 6: Create a communication plan
Why? You might be separated from loved ones when a disaster strikes.
Make a written list of phone numbers and emails of family, friends and neighbors, school and work. Include an out-of-state contact.
Make copies of your list and share it with family and friends. Keep the list with you.
- In a disaster, phone lines may be busy. Texting often works when calling doesn’t. Calling someone out-of-state may work when local lines are busy.
- Add a charged battery bank to your emergency supplies and check it regularly.
- Be sure you can receive news and critical information. Get an AM/FM/NOAA weather radio.
- Learn more about creating a communications plan. Read the Take 5 Family Preparedness flyer.
Month 7: Make a “go bag” for home, work and car
Why? You might not be home when a disaster or earthquake hits.
Place three days of emergency supplies, food and water in a bag. Have a go bag for home, work, and your car.
In your home go bag, add copies of important documents, photos and your contact lists.
In your car or work go bag, add cash in small bills (ATMs may not work).
In your car go bag, add work gloves, basic tools, rope and a flashlight.
- Headlamps leave your hands free to work.
- A backpack, shopping bag, duffle bag or a wheelie bag makes a great go bag.
- In your car go bag, add items for the seasons such as warm clothes and blankets for winter and sunscreen and extra water for summer.
- Learn more about emergency supplies and go bags. Read the Take 5 Emergency Supplies flyer.
Month 8: Make a bedside nighttime safety kit
Why? To protect your head, hands, and feet from injury from glass and fallen objects if an earthquake occurs at night.
Put a flashlight, sturdy shoes, work gloves, bike helmet or hardhat and a crow bar (to open stuck doors) in a bag or box under or near your bed.
- Attach the safety kit to the bed frame to keep it from moving during an earthquake.
Month 9: Make your home safer for earthquakes
Why? Falling objects cause the most injuries during an earthquake.
Secure heavy furniture, big TVs, computer monitors, and art to prevent falling or blocking exits.
Secure cabinets with child safety locks so contents don’t fall and break.
Secure breakables to shelves with museum putty.
Strap water heater tank to wall studs.
Locate and learn how to shut off utilities: electricity, water and natural gas.
- Place a gas shutoff tool or crescent wrench next to the gas meter so it can shut it off quickly. NOTE: Only turn off natural gas if you smell “rotten eggs,” see the meter running unusually fast or hear a hissing sound. NEVER turn the gas back on; it must be checked for leaks and can only be turned back on by a utility professional.
- Learn more about preparing your home. Read the Take 5 Home Preparedness flyer.
Month 10: Include pets in your preparedness efforts
Why? Pets are family, too.
Add two weeks of water, pet food and treats for each pet to your emergency supplies.
Develop a buddy system with neighbors or friends to make sure someone is available to care for your pets if you can’t.
Back up vaccination records and micro-chip information. Have paper copies and place digital copies on an online storage site or on a portable storage drive.
- Have photos of your pets that include you. They are helpful if your pets get lost.
- Be sure to microchip your pets and register with the manufacturer. Update the contact information each time it changes or you move. Microchip registrations expire.
- Learn more about preparing for pets. Read the Take 5 Pet Preparedness flyer.
Month 11: Meet your neighbors and build community
Why? First responders may not be immediately available when disaster strikes.
Get to know your neighbors by hosting a BBQ, block party, or game night. A strong social network will provide help during and after a disaster.
Create a community contacts list including names, addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers.
Find out about people’s skills that would be helpful in an emergency such as first aid or carpentry.
- If a disaster strikes, check on your friends and neighbors. Help however you can.
- Create a Facebook group with your friends and family so you can share information.
- Learn about connecting with your community. Read the Take 5 flyer Get Connected.
Month 12: Learn about hazards that occur in Washington County
Why? The more you know about hazards, the better you can prepare.
Washington County is prone to many types of hazards: earthquakes, wind storms, winter storms, extreme heat and cold, floods and more. Learn about these hazards and know how they may affect you, your friends, and family.