Disaster Ready...What Does That Mean?

If a disaster such as an earthquake were to happen tomorrow, would you be ready to take care of yourself and those around you until help can arrive and City services can be restored? That's what Disaster Ready means. Don't approach this as an overwhelming project; instead, think of it as an adventure into self-sufficiency and community resilience. 

There's a new campaign called "What to Do to Make It Through." Like many preparedness programs, it identifies three steps that you can take to get Disaster Ready. The steps don't have any particular order or priority. What's important is to do what you can do NOW. Pick steps or tasks that interest you or are simple to accomplish.

Some tasks are more fun and economical to do with others. For others, you might need some help—so don't be afraid to ask your family, friends, and neighbors to join you! 

Now, here's the path to your journey to Disaster Ready:

Have a plan:

  • Identify one person to call—who everyone in your family calls—to relay information to each other. This works best if the person lives out of state.
  • Select a meeting place for your building or neighborhood to meet and start checking on each other.

Build a kit:

  • Start with items that matter for life safety, like prescription medications. Have a supply for 7–10 days. Work with your doctor and pharmacist to build your supply.
  • Water! Store at least a half-gallon per day—and it's better to have a gallon per day. Two-liter pop bottles that are washed and filled with water will last for at least 6 months before you have to empty and refill.
  • First aid supplies—because you'll need to take care of yourself and others, and most injuries are ones that can be treated with basic first aid.
  • Light—flashlight, glow sticks, solar lamps—anything except candles.
  • A whistle – to signal for help if needed.
  • A radio and batteries—so that you can find out how serious the damage is, and what transportation routes are available.
  • Food—what you typically have in your cupboards is best for a disaster.
  • Pet's needs—if you have a pet, don't forget to pack what it needs.

Help each other:

  • Talk to your neighbors about organizing to help each other efficiently. The City of Seattle has a program called SNAP—Seattle Neighborhoods Actively Prepare—that can help. Call 233-5076 or visit www.seattle.gov/emergency.
  • Take a first aid class.
  • Learn how and when to control utilities—www.makeitthrough.org has great videos on using a fire extinguisher and how to control utilities.

You can't get Disaster Ready if you don't start somewhere. Pick something you can do today and do it! The benefits of Disaster Ready?  Confidence, empowerment, control, and peace of mind!  You’ll be glad you did!

—JoAnn Jordan, Seattle Office of Emergency Management