From hurricanes to earthquakes: be prepared for anything – National Consumers League

By Mimi Johnson, NCL Director of Health Policy

Nearly the entire eastern seaboard felt the quake on Tuesday, and nearly the entire eastern seaboard will feel the effects of Hurricane Irene later this week.  This is a great time to get your emergency plan in place, assemble an emergency kit, and stay informed.

Every home and business should have a disaster kit in place. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the following items be placed in an emergency kit in your home, office, car, and/or school:

  • Water—one gallon per person, per day (3­ day supply for evacuation, 2 ­week supply for home)
  • Food—non­perishable, easy-­to-­prepare items (again, 3­ day supply for evacuation, 2­ week supply for home)
  • Flashlight
  • Battery-powered or hand-­crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
  • Extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Medications (7­ day supply) and medical items
  • Multi­purpose 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

Consider the needs of all family members and when gathering supplies for your kit. Suggested items to help meet additional needs include:

  • Medical supplies (hearing aids with extra batteries, glasses, contact lenses, syringes, cane)
  • Baby supplies (bottles, formula, baby food, diapers)
  • Games and activities for children
  • Pet supplies (collar, leash, ID, food, carrier, bowl)
  • Two­-way radios
  • Extra set of car keys and house keys
  • Manual can opener

Additional supplies to keep at home or in your kit based on the types of disasters common to your area:

  • Whistle
  • N95 or surgical masks
  • Matches
  • Rain gear
  • Towels
  • Work gloves
  • Tools/supplies for securing your home
  • Extra clothing, hat and sturdy shoes
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Duct tape
  • Scissors
  • Household liquid bleach
  • Entertainment items
  • Blankets or sleeping bags

It is especially important to keep your kit current, and if you have a chronic condition, PLEASE keep a supply of meds in the kit.  Dealing with a disaster and unknowns can be stressful and chaotic, which makes it all the more important to maintain your health and keep a clear head.  The CDC has great resources for specific chronic conditions and what kits should look like for different conditions. For more information on managing your chronic condition, visit

While the likelihood of another moderate earthquake hitting the East Coast anytime soon is slim, it was a good reminder that natural disasters and emergencies can strike at any time, and often without any warning.  If you would like to learn more about how to best to prepare for possible disasters in your community, contact your local public health department for more information.