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What SHOULD you have done? Post-disaster notes!

Written by Clay on . Posted in Emergency Preparedness Guide

This week I have some tips about what to do to best recover AFTER a disaster – what you would wish you had done before an individual or major disaster impacts your family or community.

In your “go bag”  

  • Identification of all family members (passport, social security cards, birth certificates)
  • Checks with deposit slips (provides checking account number and institution)
  • Copy of ATM and credit cards, medical ID cards
  • Contact card you prepared in October for your out of state contact

Additional items on “jump drive” – originals in a safe deposit box

  • Items from your “go bag” plus
  • Homeowners insurance policy
  • Two years federal tax returns
  • All investment account statements
  • Checking account statement
  • Household inventory (see below)
  • Password list

Insurance – Fire, Flood, Earthquake, Homeowners & Renters

Fire insurance protects the structure, structures and contents of your home.  It is important to know that earthquake insurance must be offered to you but is optional coverage.

If you rent – you must insure the contents of your home yourself.  If you have a condo or townhome you must insure the fixtures and  improvements inside the walls.  The policy the landlord or HOA has does NOT cover more than the structure.  Check with your insurance agent annually to be sure you are current.

Be sure your policy has a replacement cost coverage for your home that includes a building code upgrade.  If you have an older home and suffer a loss you will be required to comply with current codes when rebuilding and that could add thousands to the cost.  Same with contents insurance – it should replace your stuff – not just a pro-rated value of its original cost

Household Inventory

Take a video inventory of your entire house.  This could be a fun project for a summer afternoon and worthy of bribing a kid to do it.

A “flip video” camera is effective as it creates a digital file that can be copied onto a CD for storage and to create more than one copy.  Narrate the video describing the room, fixtures and contents and be sure to open every drawer.  This is not for public display so don’t worry if it is not perfect or your home is no immaculate.  It will be the basis for creating a very detailed list of contents were your home to be destroyed.

Prepare a separate video and/or list of electronic equipment including serial numbers.  Closely document all valuables – art, jewelry, heirlooms including an appraisal if available.  That will be invaluable in the event of a loss.

Heirloom Inventory

Pictures, ancestry files, etc – maintain copies of important family pictures, documents on your computer (and then archive the drive). Save on a jump drive or secure online service.

Would you be able to shut off your utilities in an Emergency?

Written by Clay on . Posted in Emergency Preparedness Guide

Locating and being able to shut off utilities that are damaged in the event of an earthquake is important for the safety of your family.  Find where to shut off your gas, water and electricity.

Gas Meter – only shut off if you smell leaking natural gas

gas meter

Natural gas leaks and explosions are responsible for a significant number of fires following disasters. It is vital that all household members know how to shut off natural gas.

If it is not clear to you how to shut off your gas at the meter, it is important to contact PG&E for guidance.

Share the information with everyone in your household. Be sure not to actually turn off the gas when practicing the proper gas shut-off procedure.

If you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window and get everyone out quickly. Turn off the gas, using the outside main valve if you can, and call PG&E from a neighbor’s home.

CAUTION – If you turn off the gas for any reason, a qualified professional must turn it back on. NEVER attempt to turn the gas back on yourself.

Water – preserve water and pressure …

water shut offWater quickly becomes a precious resource following many disasters. It is vital that all household members learn how to shut off the water at the main house valve.

Cracked lines may pollute the water supply to your house. It is wise to shut off your water until you hear from authorities that it is safe for drinking.

The effects of gravity may drain the water in your hot water heater and toilet tanks unless you trap it in your house by shutting off the main house valve. You can hire water damage cleanup to take care of water damage in your home.

It may be a round handle (illustrated) or a lever. Usually this can be found at the base of a hose spigot generally in line with your water meter.  Find it and put a big bright colored tag to identify it.  It may be behind a bush so a challenge to find.

You can also get a tool to turn off the water at the meter – but often that valve is very difficult to operate.

Electrical panel …

electrical panelElectrical sparks have the potential of igniting natural gas if it is leaking. It is wise to teach all responsible household members where and how to shut off the electricity.

There are two (or more) electrical panels in your home – one directly attached below your meter and more inside your home.  It is good to locate all of them …

Inside panels will reset circuit breakers in the event there is an overload from an appliance or other issue in your home.

If you smell gas … it will be important to shut the main panel down.  The main breakers are labeled on/off and are in the main panel (outside).   Don’t practice, resetting all the clocks is a pain .. but you should know where the panel is in the event of an emergency.

I pay a lot of attention to emergency preparedness and will pass along tips on a regular basis. If you live in the San Ramon Valley check out FireDepartment.org and the CERT community emergency response team program (or similar CERT program in your neighborhood)… Be a resource in an emergency rather than a victim.

clay signature black

Emergency Preparedness Christmas List

Written by Clay on . Posted in Emergency Preparedness Guide

Put these Emergency Preparedness Essentials at the top of your Christmas List this year.

Stocking Stuffers

whatsunderyourbed

For your shoes under everyone’s bed …

  • Very bright shoelaces
  • Whistle
  • LED headlamp / Flashlight

Emergency foil blanket (for go bag) $4.50 at REI

Fire Starters

Can Opener

Light Sticks (emergency light)

Survival candles

Rain poncho

Flashlight / Lantern

For you, for your Family

first72hours

Emergency Backpack

  • 72 hour kit + first aid in a back pack $99 – $239
  • Go bag for every person

Backpack for GO Bag … each family member

Other Essentials (one per family)

  • Battery or hand crank radio
  • USB Drive to store significant documents
  • Earthquake Survival Tool (for gas/water shut off) $6.50
  • FRS Radios – WalkieTalkies for every member of family and make sure they take AA batteries – $20-$30 on Amazon

For your home

watersurvivalsmall

  • Carbon Monoxide Detector(s) $20-$30
  • Smoke Alarm
  • 9V batteries
  • Fire Extinguisher

Water Storage – Barrels 55 gallon

  • Costco / 8 unit pallet $729 (split with families)
  • Your Safety Place, Dublin $130
  • Case of water for each car
  • Water filter as an option

Food / Fuel

  • Costco and Shelf Reliance have great selections of emergency food that can cover 14 days to 6 months – Adjust to the size of your family
  • Extra propane tank for the BBQ

Consider

  • WoundSeal (stops bleeding) for your first aid kit
  • Auto first aid kit / emergency kit
  • Auto emergency tool
  • HAM radio / become certified
  • Solar charger / hand crank charger for cell phone

And for your New Year’s Resolution

  • Sign up for CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) at www.firedepartment.org/communityoutreach
  • Become certified as a HAM Radio Operator

 Easy to search on Amazon.com or Costco.com for many of these items. Your Safety Place in Dublin, CA is a local source… I found nifty LED headlamps that were two for $4.88 at Home Depot as a Black Friday Special. There will be one in my families stocking this Christmas!

It is not a matter of IF you will need to be prepared  – it is a matter of WHEN … Do it this Christmas!

Emergency Food: Pick What Your Family Will EAT!!

Written by Clay on . Posted in Emergency Preparedness Guide

You want your emergency kit to contain food that your family is familiar with and will actually want to eat. There are plenty of items that make great emergency kit additions.

Consider the following items:

  • Beef Jerky
  • Saltine Crackers
  • Soup for one
  • Trail mix
  • Powerbars
  • Cheese & Crackers
  • Fruit Cups
  • Applesauce cups
  • Cookies
  • Snack Pack Cereal
  • Fruit Snacks
  • Raisins
  • Peanuts
  • Granola Bars
  • Juice Boxes
  • Hard Candy
  • Hot Cocoa Mix (foil pouches)

TIP: If you include items that must be heated you would need to include fuel and a method of cooking. I would stick with things that only require water.

Before you say, “I have plenty of these items around the kitchen, I’ll just grab it if I need it,” consider this–If there is an emergency and you can stay home, you may have enough around the home to get by for 72 hours.

What if there is a major fire and you have to leave NOW?  What happens if you are at work or on the way home?

That is the purpose of a 72 hour kit.   Do it today.

Finally, if the thought of purchasing and putting all these items together seems overwhelming there are several resources to check out:

  • www.72hours.org  informative site sponsored by the City and County of San Francisco – easy to navigate for more details.
  • www.redcrossstore.org has a listing of basic 72 hour kits.  Nothing that cannot be done on your own.  Not wild about “food bars”
  • https://www.ready.gov/ includes basic plans and a more descriptive list of contents for a 72-hour kit
  • www.amazon.com has several basic 72-hour kits ranging from a 2 person kit at $45 and up from there.  Could be a wonderful Christmas gift for your family. There is a more extensive kit for less than $100.
  • www.costco.com has a 72 hour kit for $90 that included 10 yards of duct tape – so it was well thought out.  May need to supplement a better radio? Also have Mountain House food as another selection.

With so many options and so much information there is no reason to NOT be prepared! Get started today!

In an emergency… it is all about WATER!

Written by Clay S. on . Posted in Emergency Preparedness Guide

The first 72 hours after an emergency event you will be on your own.  You cannot survive without Water – it is the most important part of your emergency preparedness.  There is a good chance you will not be at home in the event of an emergency so make sure you have water in your car and at work. watersurvivalsmall
  • Buy a few cases of water – put one in each car – another at the office – and several more at home. Imagine an earthquake and you are stuck somewhere with no water…
  • Each person will require a minimum 15 gallons of water for 72 hours. Do not forget your furry friends as your pets will need water too!
  • Commercially available 55 gallon drums can store water indefinitely. Fill one up and cover it with a tarp in the back of your yard.
  • Do not overlook the water in your water heater and toilet tanks in the event of an emergency. Turn off the Smart Measurement tools or electricity to the water heater – then turn off the intake valve and open the drain. That avoids adding contaminated water to your 50 or 60 gallons of H2O. You can hire an electrician to do it.
  • Locate your water main both at the house and the box that the water company uses to read your meter. Have an emergency shutoff wrench for the water (and gas).
  • Have some water purification tablets in your emergency kit. Unscented bleach works too – 16 drops per gallon and let stand 30 min.  it will still have a slight  chlorine smell but that means it’s okay to drink.

Emergency Preparedness Christmas List

Written by Clay S. on . Posted in Emergency Preparedness Guide

Put these Emergency Preparedness Essentials at the top of your Christmas List this year.

Stocking Stuffers

whatsunderyourbed

For your shoes under everyone’s bed …

  • Very bright shoelaces
  • Whistle
  • LED headlamp / Flashlight
Emergency foil blanket (for go bag) $4.50 at REI Fire Starters Can Opener Light Sticks (emergency light) Survival candles You also need something to protect yourself with so visit this site where you can buy a stun gun http://stungunforsale.net/ Rain poncho Flashlight / Lantern

For you, for your Family

first72hours

Emergency Backpack

  • 72 hour kit + first aid in a back pack $99 – $239
  • Go bag for every person

Backpack for GO Bag … each family member

Other Essentials (one per family)

  • Battery or hand crank radio
  • USB Drive to store significant documents
  • Earthquake Survival Tool (for gas/water shut off) $6.50
  • FRS Radios – WalkieTalkies for every member of family and make sure they take AA batteries – $20-$30 on Amazon

For your home

watersurvivalsmall
  • Carbon Monoxide Detector(s) $20-$30
  • Smoke Alarm
  • 9V batteries
  • Fire Extinguisher

Water Storage – Barrels 55 gallon

  • Costco / 8 unit pallet $729 (split with families)
  • Your Safety Place, Dublin $130
  • Case of water for each car
  • Water filter as an option

Food / Fuel

  • Costco and Shelf Reliance have great selections of emergency food that can cover 14 days to 6 months – Adjust to the size of your family
  • Extra propane tank for the BBQ

Consider

  • WoundSeal (stops bleeding) for your first aid kit
  • Auto first aid kit / emergency kit
  • Auto emergency tool
  • HAM radio / become certified
  • Solar charger / hand crank charger for cell phone
 

And for your New Year’s Resolution

  • Sign up for CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) at www.firedepartment.org/communityoutreach
  • Become certified as a HAM Radio Operator
  Easy to search on Amazon.com or Costco.com for many of these items. Your Safety Place in Dublin, CA is a local source… I found nifty LED headlamps that were two for $4.88 at Home Depot as a Black Friday Special. There will be one in my families stocking this Christmas!

It is not a matter of IF you will need to be prepared  – it is a matter of WHEN … Do it this Christmas!

  (Download a Printable Version here.)

Would you be able to shut off your utilities in an Emergency?

Written by Clay S. on . Posted in Emergency Preparedness Guide

Locating and being able to shut off utilities that are damaged in the event of an earthquake is important for the safety of your family.  Find where to shut off your gas, water and electricity.

Gas Meter – only shut off if you smell leaking natural gas

gas meter Natural gas leaks and explosions are responsible for a significant number of fires following disasters. It is vital that all household members know how to shut off natural gas. If it is not clear to you how to shut off your gas at the meter, it is important to contact PG&E for guidance. Share the information with everyone in your household. Be sure not to actually turn off the gas when practicing the proper gas shut-off procedure. If you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window and get everyone out quickly. Turn off the gas, using the outside main valve if you can, and call PG&E from a neighbor’s home. CAUTION – If you turn off the gas for any reason, a qualified professional must turn it back on. NEVER attempt to turn the gas back on yourself.

Water – preserve water and pressure …

water shut offWater quickly becomes a precious resource following many disasters. It is vital that all household members learn how to shut off the water at the main house valve. Cracked lines may pollute the water supply to your house. It is wise to shut off your water until you hear from authorities that it is safe for drinking. The effects of gravity may drain the water in your hot water heater and toilet tanks unless you trap it in your house by shutting off the main house valve It may be a round handle (illustrated) or a lever. Usually this can be found at the base of a hose spigot generally in line with your water meter.  Find it and put a big bright colored tag to identify it.  It may be behind a bush so a challenge to find. You can also get a tool to turn off the water at the meter – but often that valve is very difficult to operate.

Electrical panel …

electrical panelElectrical sparks have the potential of igniting natural gas if it is leaking. It is wise to teach all responsible household members where and how to shut off the electricity. There are two (or more) electrical panels in your home – one directly attached below your meter and more inside your home.  It is good to locate all of them … Inside panels will reset circuit breakers in the event there is an overload from an appliance or other issue in your home. If you smell gas … it will be important to shut the main panel down.  The main breakers are labeled on/off and are in the main panel (outside).   Don’t practice, resetting all the clocks is a pain .. but you should know where the panel is in the event of an emergency.   I pay a lot of attention to emergency preparedness and will pass along tips on a regular basis. If you live in the San Ramon Valley check out FireDepartment.org and the CERT community emergency response team program (or similar CERT program in your neighborhood)… Be a resource in an emergency rather than a victim. clay signature black

In an emergency… it is all about WATER!

Written by Clay S. on . Posted in Emergency Preparedness Guide

The first 72 hours after an emergency event you will be on your own.  You cannot survive without Water – it is the most important part of your emergency preparedness.  There is a good chance you will not be at home in the event of an emergency so make sure you have water in your car and at work. watersurvivalsmall
  • Buy a few cases of water – put one in each car – another at the office – and several more at home. Imagine an earthquake and you are stuck somewhere with no water…
  • Each person will require a minimum 15 gallons of water for 72 hours. Do not forget that there are electric dog fences you can buy for your furry friends and your pets will need water too!
  • Speaking of pets, you can now get them health insurances that suits for them. Some of the insurance at petinsurance.review offers great plans for those who wish to minimize their monthly expenses.
  • Commercially available 55 gallon drums can store water indefinitely. Fill one up and cover it with a tarp in the back of your yard.
  • Do not overlook the water in your water heater and toilet tanks in the event of an emergency. Turn the gas or electricity off to the water heater – then turn off the intake valve and open the drain. That avoids adding contaminated water to your 50 or 60 gallons of H2O.
  • Locate your water main both at the house and the box that the water company uses to read your meter. Have an emergency shutoff wrench for the water (and gas).
  • Have some water purification tablets in your emergency kit. Unscented bleach works too – 16 drops per gallon and let stand 30 min.  it will still have a slight  chlorine smell but that means it’s okay to drink.

Be Prepared For Your OWN Emergency! Part Two

Written by Clay on . Posted in Emergency Preparedness Guide

COMMUNICATION IN THE EVENT OF AN EMERGENCY

Your cell phone will not work! Many households do not have a land line telephone!

Get an FRS radio for each member of the family and put an extra in the family car.  Cell phones are not likely to work – FRS radio will work – but have limited range.  Only designed to get you help and communicate within a short distance (under 2 miles).

REI offers a very good summary of the FRS Radios and GMRS. Check them out HERE. A GMRS radio requires a license but is more powerful and longer range. I’ve found good radios at the following sites: www.amazon.com(FRS radio) Motorola $40 for a pair REI has Motorola (FRS) for $35 pair (online only), more choices in store Radio Shack also has a several choices. Costco radios have 3 AA batteries … not as good but you still want the flexibility to run on AA batteries Make sure your radio comes with AA batteries.  When the power is out you will want to be able to put new batteries in your radio. When you purchase it – recycle the battery pack – and carry spare AA batteries

GET A HAM RADIO LICENSE/HAM RADIO In the hours and days following the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake, in some affected areas, Amateur Radio was the only means of two-way communication Get the booklet from the local library! Read, study and find where an exam is available near you. Check it out HERE. Take the 35 question exam (you can take it more than once). Pay a $15 license fee. Check out www.hamcity.com for a LMR Two Way Ham Radio – should cost between $200 – $300. TAKE THE CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) CLASS Go HERE for upcoming classes and the Community Outreach for the San Ramon Valley Fire Dept. You get a nifty green helmet, goggles, vest and a backpack!  Most of all you will understand how to be more prepared in the event you come across an emergency – a bus accident or an earthquake! You will be prepared!

 

Be Prepared for Your OWN Emergency! Part One…

Written by Clay on . Posted in Emergency Preparedness Guide

There are only 42 fire fighters on duty at any one time in the San Ramon Valley Fire District.  In the event of a large scale disaster – you will have to take care of basic first aid for you and your family until communications and transportation are available to get some medical attention.

BE PREPARED FOR YOUR OWN EMERGENCY:

Register with SMART911 This system allows you to provide critical medical information to the 911 dispatch center BEFORE YOU DIAL 911 … important for families with special medical needs! www.smart911.com

FILE OF LIFE card alerts responding paramedics to obtain a quick medical history when patient is unable to do so.  A reflective sticker is placed near the front door so responders know to look for the file.  The file is a plastic pouch with a magnet on the refrigerator.  Important for Seniors and anyone with special medical needs.  Stop by any Fire Station and ask for one!

Keep First Aid Kit Current Once you have a first aid kit – be sure to replenish supplies used so a complete kit is available in the event of an emergency.

BE PREPARED TO HELP YOUR FAMILY OR SOMEONE IN NEED: Know the warning signs of a Heart Attack – medical attention within the first hour is critical – Discomfort or pain in the center of the chest * Discomfort in the arm(s), back, neck, jaw, or stomach * Shortness of breath * Breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, or light headedness. Know the warning signs of a Stroke – act F.A.S.T … FACE – ask the person to smile, does one side of the face droop?  ARMS – ask the person to raise both arms – does one arm drift downwards? SPEECH – ask them to repeat a simple sentence. Does speech sound slurred or strange? TIME – any symptoms – call 911 – time is critical! Think BASICS – your responsibility early is to keep a patient stable, treat or avoid shock, keep wounds stable and sterile. Basic First Aid and CPR/AED Training Bay Area Red Cross can help prepare you!  www.redcrossbayarea.org. Daytime, evening and weekend classes.

MEDICAL EMERGENCY AT HOME OR AWAY:

-MUST have a first aid kit in your car

-MUST have a first aid kit in your office

-MUST have a first aid kit in your GO BAG!

IN YOUR CAR AND AT WORK- Assume You Will Not Be Able to Return Home: Copy of all your prescriptions – if you cannot return home because of a fire or emergency – you can get a prescription refill 3-10 day supply of medications with you – you must rotate to keep the medications current.  If you cannot return home having these with you could save your life. Having a copy of your medical doctor contact information in the event you have to reach them because you are not able to return home is important too.  REMEMBER… Even if someone is severely injured it could be hours or days before emergency services are available. You need to be able to provide for your family in an emergency – preparation is key.