Preparing for a Natural Disaster

What you need for an earthquake, smoke, or simply stormy weather.

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None of us like to dwell on the thought of some natural disaster turning our world upside down. But in the event that something were to happen, it’s always good to be prepared for whatever may occur. The last thing anyone needs during times of disaster is to desperately search for supplies on empty shelves in the stores. Be prepared for whatever comes our way with an emergency kit.

Earthquake Preparedness

We’ve all heard it – the Pacific Northwest is overdue for a massive earthquake. It’s smart to have an earthquake kit easily accessible in your home. Pack it, store it, and hopefully never have to use it! Here’s what we recommend for your earthquake kit:

  • Water – it’s recommended that you have a gallon of water per person per day. That’s a lot of water!
  • Food – Pre-packaged snacks, nutrition bars, canned food, and other non-perishable food. You may also want to think about packing some BBQ sauce or mustard to flavor otherwise bland food.
  • Battery-powered hand-crank radio – Bartell’s has it!
  • Flashlight & extra batteries
  • Medications – both prescription as well as over-the-counter like pain relief. It may be a good idea to pick up something like iodine tablets for water purification.
  • First Aid Kit – either make your own, or buy one of our pre-made first aid kits
  • Emergency blankets – yep, we have these too. Or, simply store some regular fleece or flannel blankets.
  • Copies of important documentation – passports, birth certificates, bank account information, and any other information
  • Babies and young children – don’t forget to pack some baby food, powdered formula, diapers and wipes for your little one.

Other items to consider: Instant coffee in case you’re prone to caffeine withdrawals, board games or a deck of cards, sturdy shoes, duct tape. For more information on preparing for an earthquake, visit the Center for Disease Control.

Smoke and Smog

The wildfires in Eastern Washington over the past couple of years have been devastating for our neighbors both stateside and in Canada. It’s also impacted residents in Western Washington by spreading thick smoke in and around the Puget Sound. Smoke can have strong negative impacts on our health, and these impacts are even worse for young children, seniors, and those who are sick. Here’s what you should have at the ready:

  • Water – it’s important to drink lots of water to reduce coughing and to help with a sore throat
  • Eye Drops – to help with dry itchy eyes
  • Indoor Games & Activities – the best thing you can do when air quality is poor is limit your exposure to the smoke and possible fumes. Stay indoors with the windows and doors closed! We recommend having some board games, Mad Libs, and other forms of entertainment at-the-ready in case you find yourself indoors for a long period of time

Power Outages

At a minimum, the PNW usually gets hit with a strong winter storm or two during the course of the fall and winter season. Some years that means a power outage, often times for multiple days when temperatures outside are less than ideal. Here are some tips for food and warmth during power outages:

  • Preserving items from the fridge/freezer – Once your power goes out, items in the refrigerator are generally safe if kept in the fridge for about 4 hours. If the power outage is the result of a snowstorm, you can pack some snow into a cooler and keep items cold outdoors. Frozen foods will be ok for up to 24 hrs for a half-full freezer and 48 hours for a full freezer.
  • Get a portable BBQ or camping stove – If you don’t already own a large standing BBQ, the small portable ones that are popular for camping are not only fun for summer grilling, but useful when there are power outages. You can cook/eat up some of the perishable items from the fridge and have hot meals when the house is starting to get cold.
  • Stay warm – Blankets of course are always great for staying warm – but they do take a while for you to warm up under them. Try making a hot water bottle. If you have a fireplace, a camp stove, or anything else that can heat water, pour hot water into hot water bottles and you can hug them close for warmth, or place them under the covers before you get in them for a nice and toasty bed. If you don’t have the rubbery hot water bottles, do not fear – you can pour hot water into an old empty plastic soda bottle. Just be sure the water isn’t so hot that it melts the plastic.
  • Hot tea/coffee – Again, if you have a way to heat water, drinking hot tea or coffee is another good way to warm up from the inside out. Instant coffee or coffee grounds in a French press are great options.
  • Stay illuminated – Often times our power outages happen during the darkest time of year. Make sure you have flashlights – or better yet, lanterns – and extra batteries on hand. Candles will work in a pinch, but never leave candles unattended.
  • Battery powered chargers for phone/electronics – Stay connected to friends, family, and statuses on weather/outage situation by keeping your phone charged. While you will lose connection to wi-fi, generally speaking cell coverage will still be available.
  • Non-perishable food – Canned foods, sure, but don’t forget about things like crackers, peanut butter, canned tuna, and single serve shelf-stable items like some cheeses and summer sausage.

At a minimum, the PNW usually gets hit with a strong winter storm or two during the course of the fall and winter season. Visit our blog post for more information on how to prepare for the next storm.