The following is a compilation of several emergency preparedness guides to help you and your family stay safe. The time to plan is before a natural disaster or emergency situation. Take the time now to prepare in advance.
“… there’s no harm in hoping for the best as long as you’re prepared for the worst” ~ Stephen King
Holiday Safety Tips
Many of us enjoy holiday traditions or start new ones during the holiday season. Enhance the beauty and joy by following these tips to keep your family safe and healthy.
Before firing up a yule log, check for cracks, nests, or other obstructions. Clean the chimney for Santa’s visit and have fire screens in place. Never burn wrapping paper or other trash as many contain dyes and plastic that emit toxic fumes.
Don’t be Griswold and overload electrical circuits. Check those strings of festive lights for frayed or faulty wiring. For those mechanical decorations, be sure they are safely maintained and in good working order. Live Christmas trees need regular watering, as lights and indoor heating make them especially thirsty. Enjoy burning candles but never leave them unattended.
‘Tis the season to enjoy holiday cooking, cozy chats by the fireplace, and frequent use of space heaters. Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are your first line of defense. Make a habit of checking and testing your detector batteries twice a year.
Be careful when enjoying holiday cheer, especially those involving alcohol. Designate a driver or drink festive libations at home. Be mindful that the legal limit is .08%. For your safety and for others, don’t drive impaired.
Fireworks & Firearms.
Leave the fireworks to professionals, as they can ignite shake roofs, holiday decorations, and dry vegetation. Bullets shot into the air come down, often causing destruction or worse… deadly consequences.
The Grinch isn’t the only one who can spoil the holidays. Stay alert against porch thieves, false charity scams, stolen credit card numbers, and other financially-motivated fraud. Make copies of all the credit cards in your wallet. You’ll be happy you have them on hand in case of a pickpocket or purse-snatching incident.
Safeguard Legal Documents
Keep your important legal documents in a safe place so you can access them during any kind of emergency.
Fireproof Safe or Deposit Box.
Store essential, irreplaceable, original documents like birth and marriage certificates in a safe place. A lockable fireproof safe can provide protection against fire as well as theft. A security deposit box is an excellent choice for documents or precious items that you do not need to access frequently.
GoKit Document Cache.
Disaster-planning professionals suggest that you organize important records in a 1” binder with page protectors or in a waterproof container. Documents to store in a GoKit Document Cache could include copies of:
- Birth and marriage certificates
- Adoption and divorce papers
- Emergency contact information for family members (in and outside of the area) as well as key individuals. Include home and work phone numbers and addresses.
- Social security cards
- Citizenship papers, green cards
- Military papers to prove veteran benefits eligibility, military IDs
- Original passports for all family members
- Medical information for each individual including physician names and contact info, prescription drugs names and dosages with pharmacy details
- Insurance policies with 24-hour contact numbers
- Key bills like mortgage payments, lease payments, utilities, or similar to prove residency
- Driver’s licenses for all family members
- Blank checks, emergency credit card, and cash in small bills to pay for emergency expenses like food, lodging, replacement clothing
- An estate plan, wills, health directives, funeral arrangements/wishes, and similar documentation
Consider scanning and storing important documents in a secure cloud-based service like DropBox. Portable thumb drives are an alternative, but they present security risks if lost or stolen. The benefit of scanned documents is that you can access them from anywhere from any type of device.
Emergency Car Kits
Emergency preparedness includes when you’re on the go. The following list is meant as a guideline for items to include in your car kit:
- Water. This is the most important item in your emergency car kit. Keep 1 gallon of water per person as it can be used for drinking and first aid.
Medications. Carry a 3-day supply of prescriptions as well as over-the-counter medications you routinely use.
- Food. Select foods that store well and that you routinely eat. While protein bars are convenient, you’ll want foods that satisfy hunger without making you feel thirsty.
- Lights. Flashlights, electric plug-in lights, chemical light sticks are sources of illumination that won’t lose power quickly. If you’re relying on battery-operated lighting, store extra batteries, or consider a hand-cranked version.
- Communication. Keep a cell phone charger in the car. Make sure you have important numbers in your ICE (In Case of Emergency) function and key individuals in your contact list. To conserve battery and communicate when voice functionality is unavailable, send texts instead.
- Radio. Make a list of all-news stations for the areas you work, live, or drive regularly, and keep them in your glove compartment. If you’re away from home, you’ll want to tune into emergency broadcasts. Consider a hand-cranked or solar-powered emergency radio.
- Blankets. Mylar emergency blankets offer warmth and double as a sun shield without the bulk of regular blankets. Add a thermal blanket if you can.
- First Aid Supplies. There are all types and sizes of ready-made first aid kits available. Choose one with or add to the kit with these items: gauze, tape anti-bacterial ointment, scissors, cloth for tourniquet/sling, safety pins, chemical ice pack, eyewash, and a first aid manual.
- Personal Items. Consider things like toilet paper, hand sanitizer (a staple now due to Covid-19), heavy-duty garbage bag, tissues, toothbrush, and other items you want handy when you’re away from home during an emergency.
- Clothing. Add sturdy shoes, jackets, gloves, hats, or change of clothing.
- Miscellaneous. Additional things to add if you have room in your go-kit: a whistle, sunscreen, rope, paper and pencil, cash.
- Gas Tank. During an emergency, you may need to rely on your car to power radio and heat. Get into the habit of keeping your car’s gas tank at least half full.
Knowing the location of your main gas service shutoff valve will help you turn off the gas supply quickly in the case of an emergency. The valve’s location varies depending on the type of building and when it was installed.
When To Turn Off Gas
Do not shut off the gas unless you smell gas, hear gas escaping, see a broken gas line, or if you suspect a gas leak. If you shut off the gas, there may be a considerable delay before PG&E can turn your service back on.
Once the gas is shut off at the meter, do not try to turn it back on yourself. If the gas service shutoff valve is closed, PG&E or another qualified professional should perform a safety inspection before the gas service is restored and the appliance pilots are lit.
How to Turn Off Gas
In an emergency, your gas can be turned off at the main gas service shutoff valve normally located near your gas meter. Using a 12 to 15 inch adjustable pipe or crescent-type wrench (or other suitable tool), give the valve a quarter turn. The value is closed when the tang (the part you put the wrench on) is crosswise to the pipe.