The first step is to read through the Plan & Prepare section on this site to learn what to do before an emergency, whether it is to evacuate or shelter-in-place. If this is overwhelming, just pick a few tasks that are most important for your specific needs. When those are done, come back and do a few more. Doing something is better than doing nothing. There are three steps to consider:
1. Make a Plan –Build a support team of family, friends and caretakers.
2. Build a Kit – Include prescriptions and medical supplies necessary for 5-7 days.
3. Be Informed – Know what the risks are for disasters and take a Get Ready class.
Make a Plan
Most of us know we should prepare for an emergency but it is too often pushed down the to-do list in favor of something more fun! If it makes you anxious to think about disasters, the best thing to do is to take some steps to plan your response. Remember you are not alone!
Disasters can happen quickly so it’s important to build a network ahead of time. Explain your concerns to your family and friends and arrange for someone to check in on you after a disaster. This might be a neighbor who can come knock on your door in case the phones aren’t working or if an enforced evacuation has been announced. If you have mobility issues, talk with your team about what you’ll need to evacuate safely. Here is a list of what you want to discuss with your Team.
- Make arrangements for someone to check on you immediately after a disaster.
- Exchange important keys with someone you trust.
- Show your team where you kit is, including medical supplies/prescriptions.
- If you have medical equipment, make sure your team members know how to operate it.
- If you have a cell phone, learn how to text and practice with your team.
- Notify your team if you are leaving town and when you will return.
- Make a plan for your pets too. Make sure your neighbors care for them in case you are not home. Read more about pets on the ReadyPets page.
What if a Disaster Happens at Night
If an emergency happens at night it is disorienting for everyone. But with a little planning and a small time commitment, you will have the tools at hand to improve your safety if awakened abruptly at night.
It is critical that you keep a flashlight or headlamp next to your bed in case the power has gone out. If you can’t see, you are more likely to get hurt. If you have mobility problems, it is important your walking aids are also right by your bed. Put an extra pair of shoes and socks under the bed to put on in an emergency. If you use hearing aids, you might want to velcro your case to your nightstand to keep them within reach.
For more details on building a plan if you have to evacuate your home, download the Evacuation Plan Checklist.
Build a Kit
Your kit serves two purposes. First, if you have to evacuate (which could happen very quickly), this is a backpack you can grab as you leave. If you are going to shelter-in-place, this kit has extra items to keep you safe at home for 5-7 days. Read about additional items and more details on the Plan and Prepare page. You can also download an Evacuation Backpack Checklist here.
These are important items to have in your kit:
- Medical information and Prescriptions: Carry a list of your medications, issues and medical contacts in your wallet. If you take medicine or need special medical treatment, make sure you have what you need to survive a week on your existing supplies. Depending on your medical plan, some drugs are only dispensed in 30-day amounts. If you need extras for your kit, talk to your doctor about how to obtain an extra week’s worth of prescriptions.
- Medical Facility Services. If you undergo regular medical treatments or have regular visits to a medical facility, check with them about their emergency plans. If they are not available to help you, ask for a back-up service plan. Carry this information with you as well.
- Carry family contact information in your wallet. Choose an out-of-town contact person. After a disaster, it is often easier to make a long-distance call than a local call from a disaster area. If you are injured or sent to a medical facility, someone can contact your family to let them know where you are. Download an emergency wallet card.
- Hearing Aids and extra batteries
- Flashlight and batteries (keep one by your bed too)
- Non-perishable food
- Extra cash in small denominations
You can download the full Build a Kit Checklist list here.
There is a lot of information on our site to educate you about disaster response in our area. You might also want to take a 2-hour Get Ready class. The Get Ready page will give you more information on what is included in the class and contact information throughout Marin County. If you are in a neighborhood group, check in with your neighbors and see if there are efforts to coordinate a neighborhood supply cache.
The more you know and the more you plan, the calmer you will be if something does happen.