Emergency Preparedness Part 1: Seriously? Yes.

12/05/2011 at 12:00 pm 2 comments

Flooded Oregon highway

Floods are a hazard of Oregon living. Photo: OregonDOT/Flickr

Say hello to Jennifer, a newcomer to Oregon, who will be sharing her experiences in getting ready for emergencies. Here’s Part 1:

Until 15 months ago, my husband and I lived in the Midwest. We were used to dealing with inclement weather, and we made minimal preparations for dealing with severe storms. We had a weather radio; we put boots, blankets, and food in the car for winter travel; and we knew where to take shelter from tornadoes. If I suggested additional measures (“Maybe we should stock up on canned goods?”), my husband gave me that look. “Seriously?” he said. “We’ll be fine.”

We never had to deal with anything serious, so we didn’t seriously prepare for anything.

Then we moved to Oregon—land of forest fires, floods, earthquakes, and tsunamis. Unlike Midwest storms, these natural disasters can occur without warning and cause long-term disruption. So can other disasters, such as flu pandemics and acts of terrorism. And thanks to prominent media coverage of a likely major subduction zone earthquake in the Pacific Northwest, my husband now agrees that our current “emergency supplies” aren’t sufficient.

We have some bottled water and a flashlight shoved in the front closet along with coats, shoes, tools, and the vacuum. I’m not sure how much water two people actually need, and I’m pretty sure we don’t have extra batteries.

Bottled water

Bottled water in the closet. Is it enough for two people in an emergency?

We have a weather radio, but it won’t do any good unless we add batteries and plug it in.

An emergency radio

The battery-less radio.

We have one first aid kit under the kitchen sink, but we probably need another for the car.

A first aid kit

The home first aid kit.

I know we should gather additional supplies and make a household disaster plan, but in the rush of daily life, it’s easy to push these tasks to the bottom of my to-do list. Fortunately, an invitation to write for this blog provided the motivation I needed to get serious about household disaster planning. Now, I need specific information, and maybe a how-to guide.

The OSU Extension Catalog has an entire section on emergency response. The publications on “Preparing your family for emergencies” and “Family emergency preparedness kit” look like a good starting point.

I also plan to review OSU Extension’s Emergency Information webpage, which lists a variety of websites, documents, and other resources. “When disaster hits: What you can do to recover and prepare” looks particularly helpful, and it also includes links to information from the Red Cross, FEMA, and the Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN).

It looks like I’ll need to spend some time reading and navigating these websites to figure out what supplies and types of plans are appropriate for my family. I’ll share my progress here, on the Smith & Lever blog.

I’m also interested in hearing from you. Does your family or workplace have a disaster plan? What emergency preparedness resources have you found helpful? Let me know in the comments.


Entry filed under: Current Events, Emergency preparedness. Tags: , , , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Lynette Black  |  12/12/2011 at 10:10 am

    My husband and I are firm believers in disaster preparedness. We have at least 5 days of food and water (1 gallon per person per day) stored at our home. Part of our emergency supplies include our wilderness camping supplies in case we cannot stay in our home or in a shelter. We also keep emergency supplies in our vehicles (water, food, seasonal clothes, extra footwear, flashlights, notepad and pen, first-aid kit) and road-side emergency supplies (flares, jumper cables, tool kit). We have a family emergency plan that includes a communication plan. Our children are young adults and each have an emergency kit in their vehicles and apartments.
    There are several survival kit lists available from organizations that deal with disasters (American Red Cross, FEMA, etc.) that can be used as guides. Each kit should be personalized for the family with certain guidelines kept in mind (such as cooking fuel and water may be at a premium). As far as batteries go. We have flashlights that work on batteries and wind-up versions. Remember to not store the batteries inside the flashlight. We store them in a zip-lock type bag tied to the flashlight. Final comment: the disaster survival kit should be a “living” kit meaning food, water, medications, batteries and anything else that has a best-if-used-by date should be rotated out to ensure a “fresh” kit for when the disaster strikes.

  • 2. Jeff HIno  |  12/22/2011 at 9:36 am

    I’m adding a wind-up flashlight to my Christmas list!


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