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What You Need to Prepare


Prepare for an Emergency

Keep copies of important papers outside your home

Include your passport, driver’s license, social security card, health insurance cards, prescriptions, list of your valuables, living trust/will, deeds and financial records.  Copies of each utility bill and credit card statement should be included as well.  Keep a hard copy of each in a fire-safe box or bank safety deposit box.  Or scan your documents to keep electronically.  Or copy onto a CD or flash drive.  Does your partner/spouse know the user name/password/pin number to all accounts?  Is he/she an authorized signer on the account in your absence?

Choose an out-of-area person to be your contact

Choose someone outside the Bay Area. Give this person the names and telephone numbers of people to keep informed. After a disaster, ask your contact person to call those people. This person will act as a liaison to you and your family members until such time that you can all be reunited.

Develop emergency plans for home, school and work

Pick exit routes and meeting points. Pick alternate routes and meeting places in the event your first choice is not an option.  Get familiar with emergency procedures for different situations. Involve your whole family.  Practice your plan periodically!  Update it as needed.  Designate an authorized adult who has your permission to pick up your child from school if you are not able to.  Be sure to register that adult with your child’s school.

Register your child with your local police dept                                                                                                                                                                                       Contact your local police dept regarding registering your young child (photo i.d., finger print, etc) and update it periodically.

Put smoke detectors in your home

Change the batteries twice a year.

Secure your appliances, particularly your water heater, to the wall.  Use furniture strap kits to secure your television, other large home electronics, and bookcases/tall furniture.

Learn how to turn off utilities (see What to Do).

Make emergency kits for home, work and car (see section below)

Practice. If you're a NERT, attend drills at least twice a year and take a few classes. And check out The Great California Shake Out site for other practice opportunities.


Emergency Preparedness Supplies for Family of Four

First Aid Supplies

  • 8 absorbent compress dressings, 100 adhesive bandages, 4 roller bandages, 8 triangular bandages, 40 sterile gauze pads, and 4 rolls adhesive cloth tape
  • 20 antibiotic ointment packets
  • 20 antiseptic wipe packets
  • Personal medications and over-the-counter medications for adults and/or children as indicated or recommended
  • 4 blankets (Mylar) and/or Mylar sleeping bags
  • 4 breathing barriers or face masks
  • 4 instant cold compresses
  • 8 pairs of non-latex gloves
  • 8 hydrocortisone ointment packets
  • Scissors
  • Oral thermometer (non-mercury/non-glass)
  • Tweezers
  • First aid instruction booklet
  • Prescription medications (replace on yearly basis)
  • Spare eyeglasses
  • First-aid handbook

Food and Water (Replace on a yearly basis)

  • Nonperishable food including energy bars (preferably Metrx or other bars containing protein), canned soup or peanut butter (recommended: 2,400 calorie ER Food Bars).  Low sodium foods are recommended.
  • 12 gallons of water, one gallon of water per person per day for three days (more if you have pets)
  • Water purification tablets
  • Can opener if storing canned foods
  • Alternate way to cook: camp stove, grill

Emergency Supplies

  • Two fire extinguishers (Type 3A; 40 BC) Check gage for full charge once per year.
  • Battery-operated or crank radio
  • Emergency charger or power source for charging cell phones
  • Dust masks
  • Whistle to alert rescuers
  • Flashlight(s)  with batteries (preferably 20-year shelf life batteries)
  • 50 Waterproof matches
  • Money – small bills, quarters
  • Swiss army knife
  • Twelve-hour light sticks (+ 30 Minute High Intensity Light Stick)
  • Maps
  • Tools including wrench to shut off gas in case of a leak, screwdriver, hammer, pliers, knife, duct tape, garbage bags, manual can opener, work gloves, protective goggles, 50 feet nylon rope, 5 function army Swiss army knife
  • Paper towels, toilet paper, hygiene supplies (soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes)
  • Plastic/Sanitation/toilet bags (+five-gallon buckets and toilet chemicals)
  • Clothing, extra socks, sturdy shoes, ponchos with hoods
  • Mylar blanket/sleeping bag
  • Comfort items for children


  • Cash in small denominations, including change
  • Important documents
  • Emergency contact information
  • Important phone numbers
  • Spare Keys

Go Bag – in the event you need to leave your home during a disaster

  • Water – one gallon per person per day
  • Food – ready to eat or requiring minimal water
  • Manual can opener, cooking supplies, plates and utensils
  • First Aid kit & instructions
  • A copy of important documents, list of point of contact phone numbers
  • Warm clothes, rain gear, blankets or sleeping bag for each family member.
  • Heavy work gloves, disposable camera
  • Unscented liquid household bleach and an eyedropper for water purification
  • Personal hygiene items: toilet paper, feminine supplies, hand sanitizer, soap, toothpaste and toothbrush
  • Plastic sheeting, duct tape and utility/pocket knife to cover broken windows
  • Tools: crowbar, hammer, nails, adjustable wrench and bungee cords
  • Large heavy duty plastic bags, plastic bucket for waste/sanitation, permanent marker, paper & tape, flashlights, portable radio, batteries, whistle, dust mask, local map
  • Emergency cash in small denominations
  • Photo of family members and pets, extra house and vehicle keys
  • Copy of health insurance and identification cards, prescription medications, list of allergies to any drugs (especially antibiotics) or food, extra prescription eye glasses, hearing aid or other vital personal items

Check underlined items every six months to be sure they are current/have not expired/in working order.

If you evacuate your home be sure to bring your Go Bag.

Car – Store Items in Car

  • Walking shoes, gloves
  • Food – non-perishable
  • Water – 1 gallon
  • First Aid Kit and Handbook
  • Radio, flashlight, batteries
  • Backpack for supplies
  • Car cell phone charger

For a partial list of suggested vendors, go to SUPPLIES


Storage Tips

Store supplies in a sturdy trash barrel, box, suitcase, backpack or duffel bag. Store in closet, garage or other safe place. Consider outdoor storage in water proof plastic trash can. To store in a plastic trash can:

  • Top: Flashlight, batteries, first aid kit, leather gloves
  • Middle: Food
  • Bottom: Clothing, bedding

Keep water in a separate container. Label your containers.


Make a Plan


Why Plan?

Planning helps you with preparation, and preparation will help you survive and recover faster from any incident or disaster than would be possible if you were suddenly thrown into the middle of a disaster with no plan, no supplies, no resources and no idea where to go or how to seek shelter and assistance.


  • THE PLAN – is the roadmap to help you prepare yourself, your family, your loved ones, your pets and your extended family and friends for what may happen if an incident or disaster occurs.
  • THE PREPARATIONS – allow you to store essential information, food, supplies, medication, resources and other important personal items in a “ready to go” or easy to access way,. This means you have a minimum of delay, confusion and uncertainty when the need to evacuate arises.
  • THE ACTION – is the steps you will take to implement your plan and use your preparations either as a practice test – or in real life. Testing and reviewing your plans and preparations is essential to make sure everyone knows the details, everyone knows the preparations, and anyone can “take action” if and when necessary.
  • THE RECOVERY – may take a long time and may be fraught with delay, disappointment and struggle, but imagine going through this if you weren’t as well prepared as you will be if you implement these simple plans ahead of time. Having your family identification papers, insurance documents, house content lists, credit card and banking information, some personally important items and some comfort foods for you and your family and loves ones will make recover just a little easier to handle. A few hours of preparation can literally make a WORLD of different after a disaster.


What Plans Do I Need?

This question will best be answered by your own circumstances and by the loved ones you live with, and the colleagues you work with or spend leisure time with. You may only need to develop a personal or family plan if you don’t work outside of your home, or alternatively you may need to develop a work and pet plan in addition to your personal/family plan.

The basic idea is to give some thought to how you would respond to a disaster if it happened RIGHT NOW, and what resources you would need in order to look after yourself and your loved ones for SEVEN days if no help or supplies were available from anyone else.


The Personal / Family Plan

This plan will help you:


  • Identify safe areas of your home for family members to seek shelter during earthquake, hurricane, shelter in place, etc.
  • Identify alternative evacuation routes from you home.
  • Identify areas where you will store your “go bag” and emergency supplies.
  • Identify assembly areas where you and your family will meet if you must evacuate.
  • List important documents you will copy and include in your “go bag”.
  • List important medications or special “comfort” foods that would be important if you need to evacuate.
  • List out of city/state contacts that you and your family members can communicate with or stay with if you are unable to return home or contact each other in the immediate aftermath of a disaster.


The Work Plan

If you work away from home, or spend a great deal of time away from home, it is useful to prepare a plan that covers that location also:


  • Review your workspace to identify safe areas and evacuation routes.
  • Take necessary steps to make your work area as safe as possible i.e. secure heavy objects to walls or desks or keep them close to the floor level.
  • Have a “work go kit” at your workspace and also one in your vehicle if you typically drive to and from work. This can be smaller and intended only for TWO days of survival, as you can hopefully get to your home for your full “go kit” within that time.
  • Ensure your company or volunteer organization takes preparations seriously and practices once a year.


The Pet Plan

Our pets are as important to us as other members of our family, and it will take a similar amount of focus and preparation to ensure they are well cared for during and immediately after an incident of disaster. Your pet plan will consider:


  • Ensuring your dog/cat is used to being caged and is comfortable with this for quick evacuations or short duration stays out of your home.
  • Ensuring your bird cages, aquariums and so on are properly secured and stable during an earthquake.
  • Keeping important inoculation documents and medications in your “pet go kit” as well as some treats and toys to keep your pet engaged during what will be a stress- inducing time.
  • Keeping collars and leashes in good working condition and some spares just in case.
  • A plan to evacuate your pet to friends or family outside of the disaster area if it is just too difficult on your pet to keep them during the recovery phase.


How Do I Create A Disaster Plan?

There are many on-line resources that will assist you in the development of the plan or plans you may want to prepare. These will vary from person to person and family to family based on your own unique needs, desires and requirements, thus no single plan will look exactly the same as anyone else’s. Some general concepts however will run through all plans.

Check out the following resources for ideas on creating plans, what to include, what to think about, what to pre-plan and what supplies to prepare. If a section makes sense for you and your family, include it in your plan. If a section doesn’t seem to apply to you or your family, skip it and move on. If you think of something that is not in the plan, then add it to your own plan.


Sample Plans

City And County of San Francisco –

American Red Cross –

US Federal Emergency Management Agency –

San Francisco Animal Care & Control – Pet Disaster Plan

Totally Unprepared Web Site –


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