We evacuated to the playground where we waited for parents to pick up their students. Many students live on train lines which were not running. Cell phones and land lines were not working, but we discovered we could use the Internet and Skype. Make sure your children know how to contact you in an emergency! Think through what you would do if you were at work and they were at school. Designate a neighbor or friend to take care of your child if you are unable to get there, and let the school know who it is.
Those who could not return home because of the trains, stayed in the houses of those of us who live near enough to walk. I was scrambling to find an extra toothbrush, but otherwise we had no trouble housing people. Simple living aside, it might be a good idea to keep a few extra toothbrushes around.
Kindness was seen in all directions, from the moment we evacuated to the playground: Children comforted each other; High school students prayed together in huddles; The librarian sat on the ground and read a book to a group of kindergartners and first graders; Staff members and visiting parents who just happened to be there sat near enough to the building to get Wi-Fi on their computers and helped children contact parents.
I think the clincher for me was when the parents of a first grader, who stayed at our neighbor's, picked him up. The mother said, "I had two strangers in my home last night, because we nearly got stuck on the subway together. We were just going to get on the train when the earthquake happened. I couldn't help but invite them to sleep at our house."
This is not a thrifty tip, but it is on my heart today - practice for disaster, be prepared, and most of all, practice kindness every day and it will stay with you in a disaster.
Source: my experience during and after the earthquake
By cantate from Tokyo, Japan
Editor's Note: This is a stock photo, not from the recent damage in Japan.
By fossil1955 from Cortez, CO
Instead of buying bottled water, which can get awfully expensive when you're buying a lot, when I finish with a 2 liter soda bottle, I wash it out good, then bleach the inside good to sanitize it. After it's been rinsed good, I fill it with water and label it. I can stock a lot more water this way without spending a fortune on buying it. I keep a minimum of 50 two liter bottles of water. This way I don't have to worry about not having enough to cook with, drink, or wash and clean with if we lose water.
As I rotate the water, I put some on a separate shelf for use for cleaning with. That gets rotated only once a year. The rest all gets rotated every 3 months. Everything in the cabinet is dated with the rotation date so there's no mistake about when to do it.
In a spare bedroom (since I don't have a basement or garage), I keep a kerosene heater (kerosene is kept in the shed outside), spare batteries of all sizes, flashlights of all sizes, battery powered lanterns, blankets, battery powered radio TV, and DVD player, books, pens, cat box and litter for my cat.
I also have a 12v stove and coffee maker that I can plug into the cigarette lighter in my car to cook with. This way we are all set in case of loss of power for an extended amount of time.
By Cricketnc from Parkton, NC
I am sure there are many more ideas, but these are important ones that everyone should think about in case they are evacuated or lose power. Hopefully you may never have to use this list but it is always best to be safe.
By Gem from VA
I keep 4 bins here. Two to be used in warm weather, and two for cold weather. There are a lot of duplicates in all 4, such as non perishable foods, pet foods, rawhides, and treats, water, flashlights, batteries, radio, pet supplies, including leashes and collars, a blow-up air mattress that will fit in the back of my car with a 12V inflator, sheets, pillows, and blankets suitable for the season. I also keep in each, a list of what clothing to grab for that season, and a list of all prescription and non-prescription meds, along with any other medical supplies (in my case I'd have to grab my TENS machine and the supplies to go with it).
I also keep copies of all items in my wallet. All of these are laminated to prevent damage to the lists. And there is one copy in each one of the 2 seasonal bins. Another list I put in there is a list of everything in my house, along with all the pertinent information for each and, if possible, a picture of each. And last but by no means least, a close-up and current picture of myself, my husband, and each of my pets.
For the pets, I include all their veterinary history and shot records, most importantly their rabies shot dates and when they are due again, and the rabies tag numbers, and all the information on the chips I had implanted in them.
Also, in an envelope I keep 5 money orders in each season's bin in the amount of $100.00 each. Yes it's a lot, and yes it took me a while to save it up, but if the situation arises, I won't be broke. Once every 5 years, I cash the money orders in and buy new ones in the same amounts. This way I know they are current. By having $100.00 increments instead of one $500.00, it makes it easier to cash them. And money orders do not expire. I also keep a credit card in each of these envelopes. I keep a credit card with a $500.00 balance on each. Four times a year, I take each credit card and buy one tank of gas for the car, and pay it off immediately. This keeps the cards from expiring from lack of use.
Something else I do is when I buy a car, I make sure it's one that would be at least fairly comfortable to live in for a few days. My pets are among the most important parts of my life, right up there with my husband. So I refuse to be separated from them. If I ever have to evacuate (it has happened here), many times I can't find a hotel or motel that will accept pets. Or if I do they want an arm and a leg for it. So we find a good rest area, or sometimes I've simply pulled into a motel parking lot, but change every night, and sleep in the car. The best places I've found to park like that, are major truck stops, such as Flying J, Petro, TA, etc. I park the car as close to the truck parking area as I can, and also no more than 2 rows back from the building. As a former trucker myself, and the wife of one now, I learned that truck stops can be the safest place to stop overnight.
In these bins, anything that is paper is laminated and put into a plastic folder. Anything else (pet foods, snacks, meds, etc) gets put into doubled plastic Ziploc bags.
And one last thing; I also grab one or two books, crossword puzzle books, and my portable DVD player with some DVDs. This will keep the boredom at bay for me.
Oh, since I have a bird too and his cage would take up most of my car, I keep a small "travel" cage for emergencies. He'd be quite confined, but he'd be safe and with me. When I had a hamster I did the same thing. I'm actually using the same travel cage that I used for the hamster.
By Cricket from Parkton, NC
Being prepared for unexpected emergencies is important. If you didn't think so before, look at the East Coast this week. Many have experienced their first earthquake and now the worst hurricane in decades. I'm sure not one person was prepared for a natural disaster in the summer of 2011. Since we all know now, there isn't a way of knowing for sure we can still be prepared with what I have learned living where earthquakes happen. My family has lived through times when power lines are down, no electricity, phones, etc..
What everyone recommends is 3 days worth of everything such as WATER; drinking water and water for cleaning yourself up. In a case where we know it's going to hit, have everyone take showers or bathe and be clean. Fill tub up with water. If you do have a back yard, porch or balcony, you may want to fill buckets or tubs with extra water. Putting water in pots on the stove can work also.You may or may not have electricity or running water, you've got to think ahead. Remembering DRINKING water is the most important so 3 days worth of fresh, clean water!
Food is the same rule, since we don't know how long electricity might be down. You need to get non perishable items like tuna, bread and peanut butter. Pop some popcorn up, it stays fresh quite easily in a grocery bag. I eat organic but rules may need to be broken on what kinds of food last without refrigeration so plan for at least 3 days. Any canned items, juices, Gatorade, or snacks will be very tasty, if needed. If subways, buses, roads or traffic lights are down, you aren't going anywhere for a little while at the very best.
You will need batteries (make sure you have plenty), a portable radio with AM/FM, have all cellphones charged, have charger packed with suitcase, if possible. Have candles, flashlights, matches or lighter, first aid kit just in case. Your usual things need to be in first aid kit: antiseptic, band aids, aspirin, etc. Baby wipes, paper towels and hand sanitizer are a must to stay clean without using water. Also VERY important, have 3 days worth of prescription medicine. If possible, get medications refilled.
Have important papers put in a case next to bags in case of having to evacuate. Remember what's really important. Every material item can be replaced, however important documents can be very hard to track down.
I think having a bag or suitcase ready is a good idea. You never know if there may be an evacuation. Having it ready ahead of time means less stress in an already stressful situation. Have all cars filled with gas, battery checked, oil and tires filled, just in case. It's better off being done. If it's not needed, you have saved yourself a trip when it all passes. If you live where you can have an extra gas can filled with gas, it may not be a bad idea.
Have things to keep yourself occupied, such as cards or games that you can play or paper and coloring books for the kids. If you have small Gameboy type thing, this is one time you will not be putting a time limit on it. If children are busy and you aren't acting like you're afraid, they wont be either. Have blankets and pillows out and ready in case lights are off. Don't worry, you can easily put them back when the emergency is over.
I hope this at least gave you a few much needed ideas and got you thinking.
By Luana M. from San Diego, CA
The ones with the LED lights are great. You can also use them on the counter, table, and in the bathroom. Don't forget extra batteries.
By Jane A. from Vista, CA
With the storm bearing down on the Eastern seaboard, I thought I'd share some things I learned while living on the Gulf Coast. In addition to "store bought" water, I always kept several clean milk jugs to save tap water before the storm. This can be used for making coffee, tea or other things, thereby saving bought water.
I went around and sprayed all my door and window sills with Raid. I found out the hard way that outside critters do have enough sense to come in out of the rain.
If you go ahead and cook meat that is in the freezer, you can keep it in your ice chest and eat it over a day or two. A stovetop percolator is a really handy thing for those of us who must have coffee. It can be used on a grill or camp stove.
Another thing I did was to spray the outsides and around the dirt in my large pots before bringing them inside. It won't hurt the plants and will keep unruly critters out of your house.
Most of your helping agencies will have a list of Dos and Don'ts but these are some things I found to be helpful on my own.
By Marty Dick
Also, keep strong tape in your bathroom to tape towels over glass mirrors or shower doors. Flying glass can cause severe injuries and a little pre-planning can keep you out of harm's way!
By Carol from Lebanon, TN
Wait for emergency. You have small bits of fuel for cooking or staying warm all ready. All it cost you was the work and empty jars that were probably destined for the trash.
You can read my tribute here: My Mother Lived For "Someday"
Source: I originally got inspired watching a video on this channel. I don't know if this is the video he shows his cooking fuel (sticks) in a plastic peanut butter jar or not, but in one of his videos he does.
I was also led to purchase that stove, just so I could use the fuels laying around my yard. With walnuts available as well, I will have a good go at any emergency that comes our way! The hulls burn hot though, so be aware.
By melody_yesterday from Otterville, MO
These can be used in the freezer or refrigerator during outages to help keep them cold. If the door is not opened too much it should help to keep the food frozen for several days. As a hurricane approaches us I now have as many in the freezer as I had room for.
By mother of 5 from Nova Scotia
Whether the forecast predicts a hurricane, hail storms, or an impending blizzard, there are steps that can be taken to deter some damage to a home. The best step, however, is to listen to authorities and evacuate dangerous areas before the storms arrive. Homes can be replaced; families cannot.
When our new windows were guaranteed to keep out every draft from winds in excess of 60 mph, I wrote it off as a sales pitch. However, after a wind storm blew shingles off our roof and toppled trees in the neighborhood, I appreciated the stability of my windows on the side of the house that took the brunt of the storm.
Contractors or installation experts can install entry doors using longer screws that fasten the door frame with at least one inch of support. Proper sealing around doors, windows, soffits, and gables will prevent winds from prying at the structure by creating an aerodynamic quality.
For those who encounter high winds often, consider installing real shutters that will protect the glass panes behind them.
Some structural elements that can be added to a home include extra waterproofing under roofing materials, strapping on walls beneath the siding, and purchasing wind tolerant roofing. Roofs can be anchored to the second floor of the house when a roof is replaced. This added security will prevent future wind damage to the new roofing materials as well as secure the second level from exposure.
A house's weakest point is the juncture between floors. Strapping pulls these levels together to prevent complete devastation in high winds or floods. If wind damage is something you worry about, consider the added precautions.
Clearing the area around your home from brush and debris will also slow the progression of wildfire. Keep gutters and chimneys clean so that hot embers do not light these combustible materials. Likewise, clear old vegetation from the area around your decking or foundation.
For more information about adding structural safety to your home, visit:
I live alone and I want to be prepared. I am in the process of cleaning up my very disorganized condo. I have many friends cheering me on because well this is very hard for me. Anyway I have cleaned out a walk in closet that is in the interior of the building. I am thinking it will be a nice reading nook in the winter as it is right near the dryer so it will be warm in there.
I am also thinking I have no place really to go in case of a storm. We can get pretty bad thunderstorms and hurricanes here. There is no door on this closet and no window. What do you think I should have in the closet with me? I don't want to go crazy, just be prepared. Thanks.
Sandy from Baltimore
I was in a natural disaster once, and I learned quickly that there are some things people just don't think of till it's too late. Keep some cash on hand for buying things, because if the power's out. Chances are you won't be able to use your debit/charge card.
Keep your important papers (birth certificate, etc.) with you! The only thing worse than being in a natural disaster is to be bureaucratically "dead" because your life's documentation is gone!
Finally, you should have a NOAA radio (also called a weather alert radio). You can get these at Wal-Mart or Radio Shack, etc. These have built-in sirens that go off when the Natl. Weather Service issues a storm watch or warning. You can also just turn it on and listen to the Natl. Weather Service's broadcast. Hope this info helps!
Considering the fact that winter will soon be here and that the TV news is full of the misery affecting the Katrina survivors, I have been thinking about stocking up on pantry staples in case the power goes out. For starters, I have a non-electric can opener. Any one been there and done that? Suggestions?
By Vikki in NM
I would just look in your pantry now and think if you had no electricity what could you pick out and eat if it came down to it. Your options might not be good but you have time to change that. I feel that if we have to go more than one month we, as a community, have a bigger problem that my extra days of food will not solve. (09/10/2005)
By Cindy in AL
I don't know about you, but I feel awful if I don't get enough protein. Also, if you know a storm is coming, make sure your gas tank is full on your cars. (09/10/2005)
Consolidate rooms, shutting off unnecessary ones, even to the point of hauling in your mattresses. Plug under the doors, pull the blinds and drapes shut.
I once survived for a week with no electricity on the farm, just 5 kids, myself and numerous cats and dogs. We consolidated in the kitchen,. What a riot, the kids thought it was fun. My husband was caught in town and couldn't get home. (09/10/2005)
Yes, I still need batteries and I guess maybe some sterno but maybe not. We haven't been for a long time with no electricity. (09/10/2005)
Below is another good site for a detailed list of what can be in a 72 hour kit. It also has a winter car kit list. I have a friend who keeps everything neatly in a clean 5 gallon bucket by the back door, then if she ever has to evacuate she'll just grab her bucket and go. It's nice to keep food like crackers, granola bars, dry soup packets, and hot chocolate in there too along with all important documents. Hope this helps, Good luck!
I suggest fresh batteries in flashlights, a gallon of fresh water per individual for 3 days, canned foods, a battery powered radio (LL Bean has one you crank t recharge batteries) and copying all your important papers onto a CD or disk (09/12/2005)
Prayer and preparedness is something we can do for our families. (09/15/2005)
Generator: $400 min.
Gas for 7 days, run 24 hr/day: (assume it uses 1 g per hour) 7 days * 24 hrs * 2.50/gal = $420
Food replacement cost: about $200 (01/11/2006)
Food storage is the key to being prepared for emergencies as well as saving a great deal on groceries. Consult weekly sale fliers and shop for things you normally use in quantity when they are on sale. There should be no need to buy very much but fresh produce, eggs, cheese, and a few perishables on a weekly basis.
Store staples such as rice, flour, dry beans, dry milk, and canned goods and rotate them. Make use of your freezer if you have one. If possible, grow a garden.
Have 14 gallons of water per person on hand for a two week supply. Store some additional items such as soap, toiletries, flashlights, battery-powered radio, quilts, extra shoes and clothes, and first aid items. If possible, store fuel for heating and cooking.
By Judy S.