Are You Ready for the Big One?

You might be on your own after you experience a catastrophic quake. You will need water, food and other essential supplies. You should have enough set aside for about three days. Help by way of local, state and federal agencies may be on the scene in timely manner, but it takes time to meet the most immediate needs when you need them. It could take hours or days. Consider the quake in Haiti or the most recent disaster with Hurricane Sandy.

It is quite possible that gas, electricity, water and sewage services will be down. Land lines and some cell phone towers may also be out of commission for days. You should put together supplies or a kit to help you cope with the difficulties you could face.

What Supplies Will You Need?
According to FEMA, you will need the following:
Water, food, and clean air are important things to have if an emergency happens. Each family or individual's kit should be customized to meet specific needs, such as medications and infant formula. It should also be customized to include important family documents.

Recommended Supplies to Include in a Basic Kit:
- Water, one gallon of water per person per day, for drinking and sanitation
- Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
- Battery-powered radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert, and extra batteries for both
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- First Aid kit
- Whistle to signal for help
- Infant formula and diapers, if you have an infant
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
- Dust mask or cotton t-shirt, to help filter the air
- Plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)

- Clothing and Bedding If you disaster should strike during periods of cold weather; you will need warm clothing and bedding. Rethink your clothing and bedding supplies to account for growing children and other family changes. One complete change of warm clothing and shoes per person including:
* A jacket or coat
* Long pants
* A long sleeve shirt or top
* Sturdy shoes
* A hat and gloves
* A sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person

- Emergency reference materials such as a first aid book or print out the information on
- Rain gear
- Mess kits, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils
- Cash and change
- Paper towels
- Fire extinguisher
- Tent
- Matches in a waterproof container
- Signal flare
- Paper, pencil, markers or pen
- Personal hygiene items including feminine supplies
- Disinfectant
- Household chlorine bleach - You can use bleach as a disinfectant (diluted nine parts water to one part bleach), or in an emergency you can use it to treat water. Use 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.
- Medicine dropper
- Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a water proof, portable container.

Other Important Considerations
There are safety issues and prudent measures that should be planned for and implemented in advance of a natural disaster. Seismic strapping of your water heater should be a priority. In the event of an earthquake, your water heater is an important item in two ways.

Firstly, an unstable water heater can topple, causing the gas line to break and spew gas into the residence. It only takes a spark to ignite the natural gas with catastrophic consequences.
Secondly, keep in mind that a water heater sufficiently strapped will give you a supply of potable water. In most cases, this foresight will provide you with forty gallons of water.

If you are away at the time of the earthquake and a gas line in your residence breaks, you will also face a very hazardous condition; resulting in the destruction of your residence and the safety kit you have set aside for the natural disaster. The remedy for this issue is the installation of automatic gas shutoff devices, which may include excess flow gas shutoff valves and/or earthquake actuated gas shutoff valves. A plumber would be needed to install the device. If you haven’t the cash on hand to pay a plumber for the valve, then you should get a wrench to turn off the gas valve. These are manufactured specifically for the gas meter and are available at most hardware stores. You should have them attached to the gas meter.