How to Be Prepared

Imagine your family has to survive for four to seven days on just what is in your pantry at this very moment.  If you have stocked the pantry with the possibility of disaster in mind, your family can survive and recover.  Imagine there is no electricity, no water, no working gas stations or ATMs.  What would you need to survive and emerge healthy from difficult times?

· Water
· Food
· Medical Supplies
· Communications Plan


Water is essential to life. Each individual needs a gallon of water a day. Additional water for sanitation purposes will make difficult times more manageable. Plan on storing two gallons of water for each person in the family for the four to seven day event. So, that's between 8 to 14 gallons of water for just two people. Start small and work toward the water storage goals. Look for 5-7 water-storage containers on sale. Watch the grocery sales for the 2 1/2 gallon containers of bottled water.

How and Where to Store Water

Learn where the water intake valve to your home is. If you hear reports of broken water or sewage lines, or if local officials recommend doing so, you would need to shut off water to your house at the incoming water valve to stop contaminated water from entering your home.

·  In a cool, dark place in your home, each vehicle, and your workplace.
·  Preferably in store-bought, factory-sealed water containers.
·  In food-grade-quality containers made for storing water.

Safe Use of Water Containers

· Wash containers with dishwashing soap and rinse with water.
· Sanitize by swishing a solution of 1 teaspoon of liquid household chlorine bleach to a quart of water on all interior surfaces of the container.
· Rinse thoroughly with clean water before use.

Avoid Using

· Store-bought water past the expiration or "use by" date on the container.
· Containers that can't be sealed tightly.
· Containers that can break, such as glass bottles.
· Containers that have ever held any toxic substance.
· Plastic milk bottles and cartons. They are difficult to clean and break down over time.


· Change stored water every six months.

Alternate Emergency Water Sources Inside Your Home

If a disaster catches you without a stored supply of clean water, you can use the water in your:
· hot-water tank
· pipes and faucets
· ice cubes

If your tap water is safe to drink, so is the water in your pipes and hot-water tank, even if the idea seems unappealing. If you don't drink tap water, the water in your pipes and hot-water tank may still be useful for sanitation.

To use the water in your hot-water tank, be sure the electricity or gas is off, then open the drain at the bottom of the tank. Start the water flowing by turning off the water intake valve at the tank and turning on a hot-water faucet. Refill the tank before turning the gas or electricity back on. If the gas is turned off, only a professional can turn it back on.

To use the water in your pipes, identify and turn on the highest faucet in your home to let air into the plumbing. You then can get water from the lowest faucet.


How frequently do you shop for groceries? In the imagined scenario of surviving on stored supplies, suppose the disaster arrives just before you plan to do your regular shopping. What remains in the pantry? Can your family survive for four days on a can of artichoke hearts, a jar of olives, a box of Cream of Wheat, and some wilted lettuce? Plan ahead and you can enjoy eating instead of trying to survive on Vienna sausages, pop tarts, and peanut butter sandwiches.

C.E.R.T. has found these two disaster survival cookbooks helpful in planning food supplies, shopping lists, and recipes for the supplies:

"Apocalypse Chow: How to Eat Well When the Power Goes Out" by Jon Robinson

"The Storm Gourmet: A Guide to Creating Extraordinary Meals Without Electricity" by Daphne Nikolopoulos

Both Robinson and Nikolopoulos offer menus for using pantry supplies and for cooking without a microwave (remember no electricity or refrigeration). Both books are exceptionally useful.

Stock non-perishable food that your family actually likes:

cereal                                                        canned juice
ready to eat soup (not condensed)           granola bars
canned pasta                                            peanut butter
trail mix                                                      canned vegetables
Comfort Foods: instant foods, lollipops, chocolate, cookies, whichever items make difficult days easier.

Remember to stock a manual can opener and matches.

Medical Supplies

In an emergency, you may need to treat small medical problems on your own. Gather a home first aid kit and make a smaller separate kit for each car.

Home Kit

· Sterile adhesive bandages in assorted sizes
· 2-inch sterile gauze pads (4-6)
· 4-inch sterile gauze pads (4-6)
· Hypoallergenic adhesive tape
· Triangular bandages (3)
· 2-inch sterile roller bandages (3 rolls)
· 3-inch sterile roller bandages (3 rolls)
· Scissors
· Tweezers
· Adhesive tape
· Medicine dropper
· Needle
· Moistened towelettes
· Antiseptic
· Thermometer
· Tongue blades (2)
· Tube of petroleum jelly or other lubricant
· Assorted sizes of safety pins
· Cleansing agent/soap
· Latex gloves (2 pair)
· Sunscreen
· Prescriptions required for each family member

** Non-Prescription Drugs**
o Aspirin or non-aspirin pain reliever
o Anti-diarrhea medication
o Antacid (for stomach upset)
o Syrup of Ipecac (use to induce vomiting if advised by the Poison Control Center)
o Laxative
o Activated charcoal

Auto First Aid Kit
· First aid book
· Maps, jumper cables
· Blanket
· Insect sting relief swabs
· Aspirin, antihistamines
· Bandages
· Tweezers
· Facial tissues
· Medical tape and gauze
· Alcohol wipes, antibiotic ointment
· Sterile dressings
· Sharpies, paper
· Emergency flares
· Single use cold packs
· Snack bars
· Whistle
· Flashlight
· Two large bottles of water
· Cash in small bills (about $20)
· Plastic garbage bags

Communications Plan

Imagine your family on an ordinary day: kids at school, mom at work, and dad at work across town. When the emergency happens and communications are interrupted, what is your plan to rejoin your family and assure friends you are safe? Plan on telephones being out of commission and mobile phones overwhelmed. The family communications plan can reunite the family.

Make certain everyone knows where to meet if it isn't possible to get back home. Have a meeting location just outside the neighborhood, in case the difficulty is within your own neighborhood. Have a second meeting place in town, but some distance from the neighborhood. Have third meeting place at some distance from your hometown in the event you are separated or evacuated. Be certain each person knows to wait at the meeting place until others arrive. If you must leave the area, leave a message at the designated meeting place.

Arrange an out of town emergency contact. During emergencies, it is frequently easier to reach a number in a distant area code than a number nearby. Be sure everyone has the number for the contact. In the event of an emergency, your contact can coordinate the reunion of the family. As always, keep the lines free except for essential calls.

Commonly available walkie-talkies do not use phone lines or mobile transmissions. They are helpful in communicating with family across distances. With practice, you will find the distance at which they work best. It's a good alternative in difficult times.