Living La Vida Local
This first stage will require three blocks of time for putting keepsakes and documents together. The second stage of disaster prep and maintenance will require one day a month to check on everything. Being proactive now may be a blessing later.

Time One: Plan

Basic steps: "My No. 1 tip is to make a plan," declared Keith Robertory, a preparedness expert with the American Red Cross. "If you've thought about it, you'll be that much better prepared to act." His suggestion – father your household together to talk about these three questions. Put your answers on paper.

1. What types of emergencies could occur? Consider residential fires, as well as natural and man-made disasters.

2. Where would you go? The Red Cross says that residential fires are the most common disaster. Choose a meeting place outside and practice two evacuation routes from each room. Map the possible routes out of the neighborhood, and think about where you and your pets would stay if you had to leave your home. (Most emergency shelters do not accept pets. Ask your veterinarian for suggestions.) Next consider a "shelter-in-place" plan should a plague or an earthquake confine you to home — what supplies would you need and, depending on the emergency, which rooms would be safest?

3. Who would you contact? What would happen if an emergency occurred while you were at work or school? Agree on a preferred meeting place and identify two people to call if you can't reach one another: one local contact and one out-of-state contact (long distance lines may be more free in times of crisis.) Everyone in your household should keep these names and phone numbers handy — say, in your cell phone and wallet.

Additional steps: Every six months, review and update your plan and conduct an evacuation drill.

Time Two: Survival Kit

Basic steps: A basic survival kit should include enough nonperishable food and water for three days, a battery-operated radio and flashlight, and first aid supplies. Remember to include personal items (e.g., cash, prescription medications, diapers…). (If you would like a Survival Kit checklist, please email me - Choose a container like a backpack or a box that’s easy to carry.

Additional steps: Every six months, re-evaluate your kit and update items. Be prepared; keep a kit in your car and at your workplace. Prepare a brief list — or even a box — of valuable or sentimental items you would grab if there were time.

Time Three: Review Your Insurance

Basic steps: Read your insurance policies; talk about potential emergencies with your insurance agent to make sure you understand what's covered. You might need additional insurance. Typical homeowners or renters insurance policies don't cover every calamity. For example, most policies in California don't cover landslides, earthquakes, or floods.

How Much Do You want to be Insured for?

What do you own? Take inventory of the items in your home. This will help you calculate how much coverage you might need for your personal possessions. Additionally, it will serve as a record should you file a claim. Try a room-by-room approach: For each item of value, note its brand, model, approximate date acquired, and estimated purchase and replacement costs. Videotape your contents and put the tape in your safe deposit box. Fyi, a home inventory form is available at Attach copies of receipts and other documents. This will keep you very busy.

If you would like a Survival Kit checklist, please email Visit her community history website at



Last week we worked on the concept of emergency preparedness – where would you go, what would you do, how you would stay in touch. This week lets dive into some of the household details of being prepared for all scenarios.

So FEMA is not sent into an incompetent panic, the government suggests that we all do our part and be able to be self-sufficient for up to seven days (three days was the norm until recently). The City of Los Angeles Fire Department, California Office of Emergency Services, Federal Emergency Management Agency and American Red Cross suggest that our week’s worth of self-sufficient items include:

• Nonperishable packaged or canned food
• A gallon of water per person per day (replace every 6 months & count pets)
• Manuel can opener
• Fire extinguisher
• First aid kit & handbook
• Clothing, rain gear and sturdy shoes
• Blankets, portable radio, flashlight & spare batteries
• Essential medications & list of family physicians and the style & serial number of medical devices such pacemakers
• Extra eyeglasses, Extra set of house & car keys
• Toilet paper, toiletries
• Pet food, water & leash or carrier
• Cash & small change
• Water purification kit or unscented liquid bleach (eight drops per gallon when water is first stored)
• Any special foods & supplies for babies, the disabled or elderly
• Plastic eating utensils, paper cups, plates & paper towels
• Heavy duty aluminum foil, matches in waterproof container
• Knife, razor blades, Candles & light sticks
• Work gloves, broom, hammer & nails, coils of rope & wire
• Ax, crow bar & shovel, Small tool kit
• Cheesecloth (to strain water), Large & small plastic bags
• Two tarps, 8ft by 10 feet
• Local street map & compass, paper, pens & stamps
• Entertainment pack of family photos, notebooks, reading material & games

• Nylon tote or day pack, first aid kit, gloves
• Bottled water, nonperishable food, manual can opener
• Transistor radio, flashlight & extra batteries, blankets
• Sealable plastic bags, matches & lighter, small tool kit
• Walking shoes, extra socks, change of clothes
• Cash (small bills, coins)
• Local street map

• Dry food, such as candy bars, dried fruit, jerky & crackers
• Water or orange juice
• Tennis shoes or walking shoes
• First aid kit, flashlight & portable radio with extra batteries, matches
• Small & large plastic bags, toiletries
• Entertainment pack of family photos, notebooks, reading material & games

Once you’ve gotten prepared, you need to stay prepared. Make it a family event. Involve children in emergency preparedness. You know they'll react better during a real-life emergency if they've practiced beforehand.

Pick a day any day…say the 4th of each month. Each month on that day you will test batteries and make sure your smoke detectors and flashlight and radio batteries all work.

Check the expiration dates for your emergency food and water supply (see details below). Use and replace them before their expiration date.

Store your emergency preparedness plan and disaster supplies kit in the same place.

Make it fun. If you’re stuck for a while, be sure to have something to do in your emergency supplies kit. Books, cards, games, keep yourself entertained.

Take note of recent disasters in the South and the long lines of evacuees. Remember to have at least a half-tank of gas in your car, so you'll be prepared to evacuate.

Hold a fire drill at night, to practice finding your way out of the house in the dark.

Conduct a hazard hunt around the house. Look for furniture that needs securing, flammable products that require safe storage, and other items that could fall or cause a fire. Once you’ve identified the problems, solve them.

Helpful Resources

Here are places to go additional information, tips, and checklists.

If you’d like an emergency supplies checklist, please email me.

The least threatening program is the American Red Cross program, Together We Prepare located at Together We Prepare encourages you to take five steps toward emergency preparedness: 1. Make a plan, 2. Build a kit, 3. Get trained (in first aid and CPR), 4. Volunteer, and 5. Give blood. There's also a link to the online Red Cross Store, which sells emergency supply kits.

Want to know it from a federal disaster management point of view, check out You can refer to or download the Federal Emergency Management Agency's tell-all 204-page tomb, Are You Ready? An In-depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness – available in both English and Spanish. It is full of handy hints, and includes a step-by-step approach to preparedness, as well as tips and checklists. (You can also get it by calling 800-480-2520.)

If you want the government’s opinion on how to handle a disaster, check you the U.S. Department of Homeland Security website They are here to help us prepare for the possibility of terrorist attacks, natural disasters, and other emergencies. It encourages putting together a kit and a plan, and staying informed. You can download a brochure, Preparing Makes Sense. Get Ready Now, which includes worksheets and a wallet card; it's available in English and Spanish. (To order the brochure by phone, call 800-BE-READY [800-237-3239].)

Preparing for Disaster, a booklet with tips and checklists, is available through both the American Red Cross and FEMA. Contact your local Red Cross office (ask for booklet number A4600), visit, or call FEMA at (800) 480-2520 (ask for booklet FEMA 475).