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Tips for Survival and Disasters

Several years ago I had to evacuate my home in Sonoma County, California, due to a threatening wildfire. The experience reminded me how importnat it is to have a disaster preparedness plan. Here are some suggestions I follow myself.

1. Home Preparedness. Evaluate your home. Do you have the supplies that you need for all household members (even add a guest) should there be any local disaster or loss of electricity, heat and/or water. Here are a few ideas for household preparation:

  • Water (1 gal per person per day and food (canned items, dried items)
  • First-aid kit can include band-aids, antibiotic ointment, gauze and tape, aspirin or pain reliever, and homeopathic Arnica Montana for injuries
  • Propane stove and pots for cooking
  • Recycled paper products for eating and cleaning
  • Blankets and clothes, goggles and masks for air protection
  • Sanitation products (made from recycled paper also)
  • Flashlight and batteries (or non-battery LED lights), portable radio, matches, etc. For a solar powered LED flashlight with extra gadgetry and uses, visit:
  • For a more detailed list, see Emergency Disaster Supplies on
  • Keep copies of all of your important documents (and some cash) in a single box, bag, or briefcase for easy and rapid transport. These can be kept close to your first-aid kit and other emergency supplies. Also keep separate copies offsite, such as in a safety deposit box or mailed to a family member or friend who lives at least 100 miles away
  • Develop and distribute to those in your home and office a pocket-sized list of the top things to be sure to do in the event of a disaster. This would be the first thing to do in a disaster: Pull out the list and simply DO what it says to do, such as turn off the gas lines, check status of all people who should be accounted for, etc.
  • Regarding personal supplies, be aware of what you have and their expiration dates. Make sure they stay fresh and usable by replacing when needed. Make an investment and update your supplies several times a year

2. Automobile Preparedness. Evaluate and prepare your car in case you get stuck away from home. A longer one is available on, then look at Car Kit page

  • 1-2 gallons of water (may want to store in protected glass)
  • Snack foods and some cash ($50 or more)
  • First-aid kit and toilet paper
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • Walking/hiking shoes and extra clothes
  • Flares, matches and tools
  • Heavy gloves and blanket or sleeping bag
  • Keep your gas tank more than half full

3. Office Preparedness. Suggest meetings at work to look at emergency situations. How is the office prepared to handle isolation and disaster? Who is in charge of this? Is there a backup generator and necessary supplies to support everyone in the office, such as stored water, food, blankets, etc? For starters, you could personally have the supplies you need in a big plastic waterproof bag with a few snacks, bottle or two of water, a blanket, comfortable walking shoes, flashlight and batteries, and a portable radio.

4. Medications and Personal Supplies. What about any required medicines or nutritional supplements that you depend upon? Just in case, keep some extra supplies of items that you cannot do without. One problem with prescription medications is that insurance companies typically allow only 30-day supplies and you cannot get a refill until right before you are out. Check your insurance plan because many do allow 90-day supplies which may even be less cost to you. Otherwise, you can ask your doctor for some extras at your visit. With natural medicines, you can store some extras of those most important to you. Just be sure to watch their expiration dates.I follow the motto of my father from our family grocery store way back when: Rotate and Rejuvenate. In other words, keep things fresh and do not keep the oldest stuff in the back. This is also important for your refrigerators and cupboards too.

5. Financial Considerations. Do you have some cash available at home (even some hidden in your car)? Many people nowadays live through plastic and count on electrical debits and credits. Yet, what happens without electricity or phones or ATMs? Cash is gold in a time of crisis. We are all concerned with the financial state of our country and the world right now. Are the banks and governments stable? If we are concerned about personal investments and stability, diversity is the wisest choice these days.

6. Individual Roles. What is your role at home, at work, or in your local community if there is some disaster? Some world communities focus on this. Of course we will all typically do whatever we can to help ourselves, our family, our community, or anyone based on where we are. It is basic human nature to want to help; but also basic human nature to only care for ourselves and loved ones, and to survive. When we are prepared, we are more able to take care of others.

7. Summary Review. Prepare for the most likely disaster in your area. Is it an earthquake, flood, or fire? Or possibly a volcano eruption or avalanche? We all have something that Mother Nature could impose on us when she does her thing, or that humans may create in our neighborhoods or airports. We have all been stuck somewhere, some time, so be prepared. The American Red Cross has sheets for many natural events, such as earthquakes. There are also local handouts in your city to help get your thinking and households organized. Use the resources you have and bring your community together at home, and at work. It may be worth it.

Do not be sorry, be safe and prepared!
As eco-poetess Argisle says, “Do not be scared, be prepared!”

© Elson Haas, MD

Elson Haas, MD.

Integrative Family Medicine Physician, Author and Educator

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