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Five Ways To Be Disaster Ready In The Bay Area

The San Francisco Bay Area is acutely vulnerable to certain natural disasters, with earthquakes and their aftermath being especially devastating. While it is impossible to be fully prepared for natural catastrophes, planning ahead for disasters or emergencies of any kind will help save precious time, reduce injuries and potentially save lives.

Contact Emergency Resources For Information On Disaster Preparedness

Take advantage of resources locally and online for information on what to do in an emergency, steps on ways to connect before disaster strikes and instructions to help prepare for an emergency. Guidance on how to plan for when disaster hits will make you better prepared to stay safe in an emergency. Here are several disaster resources for San Francisco Bay Area counties:

Assemble A Disaster Preparedness Emergency Kit

The American Red Cross advises being equipped with the proper supplies needed in an emergency or a disaster. Assemble and keep your supplies in an easy-to-grab-and-carry emergency preparedness kit to use at home or to take with you in case you have to evacuate. Be sure the supplies include enough provisions for the entire family for at least three days.

According to the American Red Cross, a basic emergency kit should include the following:

  • Water — one gallon per person, per day (three-day supply for evacuation, two-week supply for home)
  • Food — non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items (three-day supply for evacuation, two-week supply for home)
  • Flashlight
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible) with extra batteries, tuned to KCBS Radio 740 AM or 106.9 FM
  • First aid kit
  • Medications (seven-day supply) and medical items
  • Multi-purpose tool
  • Sanitation and personal hygiene items
  • Copies of personal documents: medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies
  • Cell phone with chargers
  • Family and emergency contact information
  • Extra cash
  • Emergency blanket
  • Map(s) of the area

Make A Disaster Preparedness Emergency Kit For Your Pet

Make sure your pet is as disaster ready as the rest of the family. Pets can be vulnerable in a disaster as they become injured, scared or separated from their families and familiar surroundings. Your disaster preparedness plan includes making arrangements for your pets as well. If you must evacuate your home in a disaster, then your pet must evacuate with you. Never leave a pet behind when you are forced to leave.

Health and safety regulations do not allow the Red Cross to let animals into its disaster shelters (only exception is for service animals), so before disaster strikes, begin to inquire about pet acceptance and boarding policies at hotels and motels, boarding facilities and veterinarians outside your local area. Ask friends, relatives and others outside the emergency area if they would shelter your pet if needed. Create a contact list of pet-friendly volunteers, so you and your pet are ready in an emergency.

Assemble a pet emergency preparedness kit. The Red Cross advises the following essential supplies packed in a sturdy container or duffel bag, and ready for easy access and portability:

  • Medications and medical records (stored in a waterproof container) and a First Aid kit
  • Sturdy leashes, harnesses and/or carriers to transport pets safely and ensure that your animals can't escape
  • Current photos of your pets in case they get lost
  • Food, drinkable water, bowls, cat litter/pan and manual can opener
  • Information on feeding schedules, medical conditions, behavior problems and the name and number of your veterinarian in case you have to foster or board your pets
  • Pet bed or toys if easily transportable

Related: Best Resources For Emergency Preparedness In The Bay Area

Make It A Family Affair

It is important to create a disaster readiness plan for the family, particularly because the family may not be together when disaster or emergency strikes. Start preparing well in advance to be ready when you need to act quickly. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security suggests that as a family your plan considerations include the following:

  • How you will get to a safe place
  • How you will contact each another
  • How you will get back together
  • What you will do in different situations

Homeland Security suggests using its Family Emergency Plan resource to collect each family member's vital information on wallet-size cards to conveniently carry. Get the family together to check on each person's school and workplace schedule or plans to know the best way to communicate with each family member when an emergency hits.

Take A Training Course To Learn Life-Saving Skills

Being prepared can include learning life-saving skills that are valuable assets in an emergency. The American Red Cross offers a variety of options that give training and certification in a range of courses, including First Aid, CPR and AED. Learn how to recognize and deal with a variety of first aid emergencies for victims 12 years and older. Visit the American Red Cross website here to learn more and register for courses.

Related: Top 10 Earthquake Survival Kit Must-Haves

Melanie Graysmith is a writer, artist and educator based in San Francisco. She writes on adult education, art and lifestyle topics, and enjoys writing short stories and poetry. She is also a member of an independent filmmaking group. Her work can be found at

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