Posts Tagged ‘earthquake preparedness’

Cold SnapHEADLINE!  Cold Snap Freezes All City Utilities!  So…whaddya DO?

Just as in all preparedness plans, it is important to make your preparations before the emergency happens.  Make your home ready for cold weather emergencies by applying the concepts spoken of in previous posts about Emergency Sheltering.

Look for & create a warm room.  Choose one room of the house as the designated warm room where everyone will spend most of their time.  This saves on any limited heating resources you may have during the emergency situation.

  • Select a room on the highest level of the house with a low ceiling.  Since heat rises, these will be the warmest rooms.  The low ceiling will hold the heat closer to where you need it to stay warm.
  • Select a room with south-facing windows.  This will allow the direct sunlight to help provide heat during the day to your room.  Keep all house windows clear & clean during the day to allow as much solar radiation in as possible.  Think about turning your home into a make-shift solar oven.
  • Insulate your windows with clear plastic sheeting.  This allows sunlight in during the day, but creates an insulative layer of trapped air to hold in heat.  The distance between the plastic sheeting and the window should be about one inch.  Be sure no air can escape from between the plastic and the window.  Use duct tape the seal off any drafts.  At night use curtains, blankets or other insulative materials draped over windows to help hold in the heat.
  •  Isolate and insulate your warm room from the rest of the house.  Again you only want to warm as few areas as possible to conserve your heating supplies.  Cover doors, under doors and other openings with blankets or towels.  Don’t forget to leave some ventilation to allow oxygen into the room for breathing, especially if using heaters, candles, or other indoor safe supplies that consume oxygen.
  • Make a “nest” or a room within your warm room.  Use small tents, blankets, couch cushions, etc. to isolate and insulate your nest and make it even warmer than the larger warm room.  Couch cushions just like the fort you made as a kid are excellent for insulation.
  • Get cozy with the family.  Radiation from body heat can be used to keep each other warm and warm the inside of the nest.  Get Mom, Dad, the kids, Grandma, and Grandpa all together in the same nest.  Sleep together inside the same tent, even in the same bed or sleeping bag if possible.
  • Eat high calorie foods and stay hydrated to generate heat from your metabolism, the process of breaking down food into energy.  When possible, eat hot, simple to prepare meals to help in maintaining your body temperature.
  • Use indoor safe heaters, fireplaces, or wood stoves.  There are many commercially available alternative fuel heaters that are safe to use indoors.  Be sure to allow a sufficient supply of oxygen to enter into your room and check the manufacture’s guidelines to know how to safely use your device.  Keep a ready supply of fuel for your heater or fireplace.

Don’t forget the dangers of Carbon Monoxide (CO).  Don’t use fuel burning camp equipment indoors.  Don’t use gas appliances like the oven, stove or dryer to heat your home.  Don’t use gas-powered tools indoors (generators, etc).  Large propane bottles are never to be indoors so have a long enough hose to allow the bottle to stay outside while the indoor safe heater is inside.  Check the manufactures directions for safe operation.

3 Cold Weather Layers

3 Cold Weather Layers

Use a 3 layer clothing system to maintain a normal body temperature in cold weather conditions.  The main goals are to retain heat and stay dry by dispensing and repelling moisture.


The Base Layer of clothing is right next to your skin and is made from artificial fibers like polyester or nylon.  Artificial fiber clothing wicks moisture away from your body, which can otherwise freeze or evaporate, both which make you colder.

Cotton underwear and even cotton thermal underwear should not be used because cotton holds moisture next to your body which promotes heat loss through evaporation and conduction.


The Insulation Layer of clothing needs to be breathable, like wool or fleece, allowing moisture to vent.  Multiple small layers insulate by trapping non-heat conducting air between them.  They also have the added benefit of being able to easily self-regulate to a comfortable temperature by adding or removing layers as necessary, rather than one bulky layer.

For shelters, wool or fleece blankets work wonderfully.  In a pinch, you can use dry leaves, crumpled paper, or anything else that will trap air layers all around you.


The Outside Protective Layer of clothing protects against the elements such as wind, rain, snow & sun. Unless you are in an extremely wet environment, water resistant is usually better than water proof because it “breathes” better, letting moisture out.

A protective layer for your shelter, like a tarp, protects you from the ground.  A tent also will protect you from other elemental hazards in the surrounding environment.  A Mylar tent can reflect your body heat back to you in cold weather and reflect sun and heat away in hot.  Any safe structures that block wind, rain or sun can save your life.

An understanding of Cold Weather Clothing Layers and the Science of Effective Emergency Sheltering will help you to use your available resources to maintain body temperature and make effective, life saving shelters in an emergency.

The purpose of a shelter is to help your body maintain its normal temperature.  If you understand these concepts, you can use your available supplies and resources to make effective, life saving shelters for the given circumstances.

Gaining & Losing Heat

In cold temperature situations, you usually want to retain and gain heat; whereas in warm temperatures, you want to promote heat loss or at least not increase your temperature.  Remember that heat
always travels from warmer areas to colder areas.

Conduction:  Heat transfer through direct contact, such as bare feet on a cold floor.  Ice packs use conduction to pull heat away from burns or sore muscles.  Prevent conduction from your body in cold temperatures by wearing socks or when camping by making an insulation barrier between your sleeping area and the ground.

Convection:  Heat transfer through air and liquid currents.  Wind chill is a good example of convection.  When the wind blows, it feels colder than the ambient temperature because the moving air is pulling heat away from your body.  You use convection in warmer temperatures to cool down when you use a fan.  Prevent convection in colder temperatures by wearing clothing or using shelters that block wind.

Radiation:  Heat transfer through emission.  A car’s radiator radiates heat to keep the engine from overheating.  You experience radiation from the sun every day.  In the same way you feel warmth from a campfire without having to touch the flame.  You can even feel your own body radiating heat if you put your hand just above an area of skin.  Prevent radiation heat loss in cold temperatures by using insulated clothing and shelters, and by using shelters that reflect your heat back to you.

Metabolism:  Converting food into energy and heat.  Food is your body’s source of fuel.  Help your body regulate your temperature in cold weather by eating high calorie foods like energy bars, trail mix & fruit snacksWater is an important part in the metabolism process, be sure to stay properly hydrated in warm and cold situations.

Evaporation:  Heat transfer through converting liquid to gas.  When your body sweats, the sweat evaporates, or changes from a liquid into a gas, which requires heat energy.  This helps keep you cool.  When you get out of a pool, even on a hot day, you feel cold until you dry off because of evaporation.  Promote evaporation in hot temperatures by staying hydrated.  In extreme situations you can even wear wet clothing.  Prevent heat loss in the cold by staying dry, minimizing sweating, and by wearing artificial fiber clothing, which wicks moisture away next to your skin.  In humid climates, regulating temperature through evaporation is not effective.

Respiration:  Heat loss through breathing.  You breathe out warm, moist air.  You can’t stop breathing, so in cold temperature situations, wear a mask or scarf that covers your mouth & nose.  Breathe through your nose to warm & moisten the air before it gets to your lungs, and to retain as much heat and moisture when you breathe out.

You could also say friction generates heat, like when you rub your hands together, but heat generation is very small and can be damaging to skin tissues in extreme situations like frost bite.

Preventing or Promoting Heat Transfer

After learning how your body gains or losses heat, it is important to learn how to prevent or promote those heat losses and gains.

Insulation:  Trapping air to stop or slow the transfer of heat.  Air is not a good heat conductor, so it works well as a barrier.  Multiple small layers of clothing trap air for insulation and allow you to regulate to a comfortable temperature by adding or removing layers as needed.  Insulation prevents conduction and radiation.

Reflection:  Bouncing heat back to or away from.  Heat, also known as infrared light, can be deflected and directed just like a flashlight beam and a mirror.  Reflect your radiated body heat back to you in
cold or reflect solar heat away from you in hot weather by using Mylar blankets, sleeping bags, or tents.  Be sure to have an insulating layer of clothing or cloth between your skin & the Mylar, otherwise it turns from reflecting your heat back, to conducting your heat away.

Protection:  Keeping out the heat transferring elements like sun, water, wind, and physical dangers.  Maintain your body temperature by protecting yourself from the elements. Stay dry and warm by wearing an outer layer that sheds water.  Shelters that block wind and/or provide shade from the hot sun are also vital to survival in extreme temperatures.

Moisture Wicking:  Pulling water away from the body.  Artificial fiber clothing or shelters like polyester, fleece, and nylon or a non-plant fiber like wool can actually wick, or pull moisture, away from your skin.  This is essential in cold weather.  You do not want evaporation happening or ice forming next to your skin when you are cold.  DO NOT wear cotton in cold weather situations since cotton holds moisture and causes evaporation next to your skin.

Basic Food StorageHaving a food storage supply is essential for maintaining energy and health in an emergency situation.  There is no perfect food or complete nutrition pill; nutrition comes from a variety of foods.

This list is the basic food requirements for an average adult for one year.  Bold items are the total for the whole category, non-bold are possible suggestions.  Tailor your list based on these recommendations.  Consider your needs, wants, abilities, resources and budget.

“Eat what you store, and store what you eat.”

Suggested Amounts of Basic Food Storage (One Adult/One Year)
Item Per Year 3 Months Shelf Life in Years
Grains 400 lbs 100 lbs
Wheat 175 lbs 30 +
Flour 20 lbs 20
Cornmeal 30 lbs 20
Rolled Oats 50 lbs 30
White Rice 80 lbs 30 +
Pearled Barley 5 lbs 30 +
Pasta 40 lbs 20
Legumes 60 lbs 15 lbs
Dry Beans 45 lbs 30
Dry Lima Beans 2 lbs 30
Dry Soy Beans 2 lbs 30
Dry Split Peas 2 lbs 30
Dry Lentils 2 lbs 30
Dry Soup Mix 7 lbs 1 to 2
Fats & Oils 10 quarts 2.5 quarts
Cooking Oil 5 quarts 1 to 2
Shortening 2 quarts 5
Mayonnaise 1 quart 1 to 2
Salad Dressing 1 quart 1 to 2
Peanut Butter 1 quart 1 to 2
Milk Group 16 lbs 4 lbs
Non-Fat Dry Milk 14 lbs 20
Evaporated Milk 12 12-oz cans 1 to 2
Sugars 60 lbs 15 lbs
Granulated Sugar 40 lbs 30 +
Brown Sugar 3 lbs 1 to 2
Molasses 1 lbs 1 to 2
Honey 3 lbs 30
Corn Syrup 3 lbs 1 to 2
Jams & Jellies 5 lbs 1 to 2
Powdered Fruit Drink 6 lbs 30
Flavored Gelatin 1 lbs 5
Salt 8 lbs 2 lbs 30 +
Dry Yeast 1/2 lbs 2 oz 1 to 2
Baking Soda 1 lbs 1/4 lbs 30 +
Baking Powder 1 lbs 1/4 lbs 1 to 2

Include dried or canned fruits and vegetables to add vitamins and nutrients.


Preparedness Principles, Barbara Salsbury, pg.86  “New Findings for Longer-Term Food Storage”

To prevent disease in an emergency situation, keep yourself and your environment clean!

Sanitation KitMobile Sanitation Kit
Home Sanitation Supplies
Portable Hygiene Emergency Kit

  1. EarthquakeFireAccidentSnow StormHurricaneFood
  2. Water
  3. Sanitation
  4. Shelter
  5. First Aid
  6. Cooking
  7. Light
  8. Communication
  9. Personal Items & Clothing
  10. Important Papers & Money

 All ten things need to be planned for, for every emergency, even though these items may apply differently in different situations.

Work Emergency Kit

Work Emergency Kit

Keep this personal emergency kit in a desk, locker or other quick access area to help you survive an emergency until you are able to evacuate and go home.  Make sure your place of business has an emergency plan and additional emergency supplies.



Shelter & Warmth



First Aid


Hygiene & Sanitation

Clothing & Personal Items

Important Papers & Money

  • Emergency & Non-Emergency Numbers
  • Emergency Family Contacts:  Phone, Address & E-mail
  • Home, Work, School, Day Care, Out of Area, Out of State
  • Local Maps with Evacuation Routes, Home, Work, School, Family Meeting Places
  • Currant Copies of Family Photos & IDs
  • Personal Medical Information
  •           Medical Providers
  •           List of Medications
  •           Special Medical Equipment
  •           Medical Conditions
  •           Vaccinations
  •           Blood Type
  •           Allergies & Sensitivities
  •           Health Insurance
  • Emergency Cash
  • Coins for Pay Phones

Kit must be small enough to fit in a desk or locker.



Shelter & Warmth


  • Unnecessary


First Aid


Hygiene & Sanitation

Clothing & Personal Items

Important Papers & Money

  • Child ID Tag with Emergency Contact Info, Family Picture & Medical Info
  • Small Bills & Change

Lightning Hit

How safe is YOUR home?

Are flashlights and spare batteries easily accessible in the event of a power outage?  Flashlights are safer than candles.
Are step stools with handles or ladders used to reach high objects?
Are emergency numbers posted next to every phone? (911, Poison Control 1-800-222-1222, Work, School, Day Care, Out of State Emergency Contact, etc.)
Are there First Aid Kits that are easily identifiable, labeled and easily accessible around the house?  Does everyone know where they are?
Do all responsible people know basic first aid and how and when to use the first aid kits?
Do all responsible people know how and when to use a fire extinguisher?
Are shelves bolted to the wall and items on shelves secured so as not to topple in an earthquake?
Does everyone have their own, personalized, portable 72 Hour Kit stored in an easily accessible location like the front door closet?
Are all emergency kits checked, inventoried and expired items rotated every six months?
Is there enough food and water stored to last everyone in the home a minimum of one month?
Is there a sanitation kit with supplies to last at least a month if the water and sewer are not functioning?
Are there extra blankets and a safe means of warming the home if the power and gas go out?
Is there a family emergency communication plan?  Does everyone have a copy and know how it works?
Are copies (not the originals) of all important documents kept outside the home in a safe deposit box or trusted family member’s safe?
Do you keep your lighters and matches locked, out of the reach and sight of children?
Do you keep lighters and matches away from heat sources like stoves or heaters?
Do you make sure lighters, matches, candles and smoking materials are “cold out” before disposing of them, leaving the home or going to bed?
Do you make sure candles are sitting on a non-combustible base and are away from curtains, lamp shades, plants, decorations and children when burning?
Do you have plenty of large non-combustible candle bases or ashtrays in every room?
Is “NO SMOKING IN BED” a rule in your home?
Do you have a smoke detector on every floor and inside or near every bedroom properly installed?  Does everyone know what it sounds like?
Do you have a carbon monoxide (CO) detector on every floor properly installed?  Does everyone know what it sounds like?
Do you test your smoke and CO detector monthly and change batteries twice a year?  Are detectors replaced every 10 years?
Do you have a fire extinguisher mounted outside each room that contains a serious heat source? (furnace room, kitchen, water heater, laundry/shop area, etc.)
Do you, your children & babysitter know how and when to call 9-1-1?
Do you have an escape plan from every room in your home?
Have you practiced that escape plan by holding fire drills in your home twice each year?  Have you practiced it at least once while everyone was asleep?
Is there a plan to help young children or the elderly who may sleep through an alarm?  Is a person designated to help?
Does everyone know at least two escape routes from every room?
Do upper floor rooms have an emergency ladder or other means of escape?
Is there a designated place to meet a safe distance from your home?
Do you allow only qualified electricians to install or repair your wiring?
Do you have enough electrical outlets in every room to avoid the need for multiple plug attachments or long extension cords?
Do responsible people know how to reset breakers or replace fuses?  If you blow fuses or breakers often in your home, you need an electrician.
Are all extension cords in the open — not run under rugs, furniture, over hooks or through partitions or door openings?
Do all outlets and switches have properly fitting face plates?
If there are children, are safety caps installed over electrical outlets?
Are bulbs the correct wattage for the lamps of light fixtures in which they are used?
Too many appliances using the same outlet can cause a fire.  Are outlets used properly?  Are surge protectors used?
Do you have your heating system inspected and serviced before heating season begins?
Do you have all flue pipes, vent connectors, gas vents and chimneys inspected each fall and cleaned and repaired if necessary?
Are wood floors under stoves and heaters protected by insulation or ventilated airspace?
Do you always turn off portable or gas heaters when you go to bed?
Do you always keep a window slightly open in rooms where gas or oil heaters are being used?
Is the water heater set to 120º F or below to prevent scalding?
Is the water heater securely mounted to wall studs with sturdy earthquake straps and connected with a flexible gas hose?
Do all responsible people know how, when and where to turn off main water, gas and electricity to the house?
Are loose clothing, curtains, potholders or other combustibles near cooking ranges or heating equipment arranged so as to not fall or blow over the heat source?
Do you keep your range, its oven and broiler, clean of grease?
Has everyone been warned not to wear loose-fitting clothing near a kitchen range?  Loose garments may catch on fire.
Are pot holders used when cooking?
Are children kept away from the range when cooking?
Do all appliances have an Underwriters Laboratories (UL) mark or stamp?
Are dangerous products labeled and stored in different areas from food, beverages and medicines?
If there are children, are product safety caps and cupboard locks used?
Are cupboard locks used to prevent cupboards from opening in the event of an earthquake?
Is heated food temperature tested before given to young children?
Are there non-slip surfaces or adhesive strips in bathtubs and showers?
If there are elderly or disabled, are grab bars installed near toilets and in bathtubs and showers?
Do bath mats have non-slip bottoms?
Are bathroom floors kept clean and dry?
Are there nightlights in bathrooms?
When children use the sink or tub, is an adult within arms reach?
If there are children, are toilet seat locks properly installed?
Are medicines and cleaners kept in their original containers with labels and kept separate from each other?
If there are children, are medicines, cosmetics and cleaners locked in cabinets?
Are electrical appliances kept away from water and unplugged and put away after using?
Do all electrical outlets in bathrooms and near water use a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) to prevent shock?
Do all exterior doors and windows have locks?    
Do windows and doors unlock and open easily from the inside?    
Do “dead-bolt” locks have a “thumb-turn”, not a “key” inside lock?  A missing key could trap you inside.    
Are all doors and windows kept locked when not in use?    
Are windows made of tempered safety glass?    
Do security bars have an inside release latch?  Does everyone know how to use it?    
Are window blind cords up high out of reach of children?    
Window blind cords should not have a loop.  Has the loop been cut in two pieces?    
If there are children, do upper windows have window guards to prevent falling out?    
Are stairs, doorways and escape routes kept clear?    
Are rugs and carpets secured to the floor or removed?    
Are stairways adequately lit at the top and bottom?    
Are there nightlights and emergency lights in hallways and along emergency escape routes?    
If there are children, are there gates at the top and bottom of stair cases?
Do hand rails go completely from the top to the bottom of the stairs?
Are shelves bolted to the wall and items on shelves secured so as not to topple in an earthquake?
Is home office equipment unplugged when not in use?
Is home office equipment and supplies out of children’s reach or safely locked away?
Does the paper shredder have safety features and is it unplugged when not in use?
Are file cabinet drawers kept closed when not in use?
Are shelves bolted to the wall and items on shelves secured so as not to topple in an earthquake?
Is a smoke detector installed and checked regularly?
Are emergency numbers posted by the phone?
Do you keep your yard cleared of leaves, debris, and combustible rubbish?
If any of the surrounding property is vacant, have weeds, dry leaves, and rubbish been cleared away?
If your garage is attached to the house, is there a tight-fitting door which is always kept closed?
Is gasoline only used as a fuel for motors?
Is gasoline stored in a container that is designed specifically for gasoline and stored out of sight and out of reach of children?
Do you warn your family never to use gasoline, benzene or other flammable fluids carelessly near visible or hidden open flame or for cleaning?
Are children kept away from BBQ grills during cooking?
Are gas BBQ grills checked for leaks before each use and stored with the gas disconnected after each use?
Do swimming pools have a fence with a self-locking gate?
Are adults always present when children are in or near water?
Are large buckets stored upside down so as not to collect water?
Are stairs, porches and walkways well lit?
Do stairs have hand rails?
Are ladders put away, locked and stored on their side so children cannot climb on them and intruders cannot use them?
Are stairs kept clear of tripping hazards?
If there are young children, is a safety gate used to prevent falls from the deck or porch?
Is there 9 to 12 inches of mulch, wood chips or safety material under playground equipment?
Are tools, chemicals, car fluids, pesticides and lawn and garden products put away after use and kept out of reach and out of sight of children?
Is garden equipment stored where children cannot reach it?
Are sharp tools stored pointing downward?
Are shelves bolted to the wall and items on shelves secured so as not to topple in an earthquake?
Is the garage clean from dust, webs and trash, which can interfere with the electrical system?
Does the automatic garage door opener have an auto-reverse feature that prevents trapping people or pets?
Do garage and shed doors have locks?  Are they used?
Are tools, toys and equipment not left in the yard where they can be stolen or be possible hazards in an emergency?
Are electric generators, BBQ grills and gas powered tools only used outside?
Is the house number visible from the street, day and night?
Much of the information was obtained from


  • One Apple Box with Lid, or 2 large matching boxes with flaps cut off
  • Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil
  • Stapler
  • Heavy Duty Scissors
  • Metal Wire Rack that fits completely in the box horizontally
  • Metal Wire (Optional)
  • 2 Pie Tins
  • Bricks or Boards for a Base
  • Charcoal
  • Tongs
  • Hot Pads

(Figure 1)

Box Oven Instructions:

  1. Completely cover the inside and bottom of the apple box with heavy-duty aluminum foil.  Fold the foil over the edges about 2” and staple it to the box.  (Figure 2)  Turn the box on its side.
  2. Place a rack in the box so that it is level and approximately 8” from the bottom of the box.  You may secure it with wire on all 4 corners of the rack.  Or, use a rack that comes with legs.  Make sure the rack fits completely inside the box. (Figure 3)
  3. Cut the lid of the apple box or second matching box down to about 3” to 4” from the bottom.  (Figure 4)  This is now the door of the oven.  Cover the outside of the door with foil and secure the foil in place with staples.  (Figure 5)  Place the lid with the foil side toward the opening of the oven to form a door.
  4. Place bricks or boards under the bottom edges of the oven so air can circulate and keep the outside of the box cool. (Figure 6)
  5. Put two pie tins with the bottoms together and the tops facing up and down.  The top tin holds the coals while the bottom tin prevents the coals from burning the oven.   (Figure 7)  Place about 12 hot coals in the top pie tin and place both tins in the bottom, center of the oven.
  6. Place food on the rack for cooking like you would in a normal oven.  Cover with the oven door to cook the food.  (Figure 8, Figure 9)
  7. Use a pair of pliers or tongs to adjust the coals and a hot pad to remove the hot pans from the oven. (Figure 10)

Reflector Oven Instructions:

  • To use the oven as a reflector oven, you don’t need the pie tins or the door.  Place the pan of food on the rack in the oven and set the oven close to and facing a heat source like a campfire.  The radiant heat from the heat source will then cook the food.  (Figure 11)