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Preparedness Checklist

Survival Planning & Preparation

Do you have your survival planning and preparation in place? What if you and your family were to experience a catastrophe...a disaster such as a Hurricane, Earthquake, Tornado, Wildfire, Blizzard or other natural disaster? What if the emergency was a man-made disaster such as a terrorist strike or power black-out? Are you ready? Have you drafted a checklist for emergency preparedness?

How Many Days Should One Plan to Survive a Disaster?

Your planning should see your family through a minimum of 14 days of survival. Fourteen days will statistically sustain you through 96% of known disaster emergency situations. Seven days will only get you through 50% of them. Consider more than 14 days of survival for locally-known situations where your area can be physically cut off from resupply for very long durations (seismic areas, land/snow/mud slide areas, below sea level areas, flood plains, low lying island areas and areas of difficult or single method access by bridge, single road, boat, plane, trail, or horse/mule). The 2004 Florida Hurricanes left certain areas of homes without power for up to 22 days, but the area residents had access to vehicles and could travel to other towns for supplies. New Orleans' Hurricane Katrina demonstrated the need for advance planning and preparation.

Disaster Survival Readiness & Emergency Preparedness Checklist

The checklist presented below is a compilation of suggestions from several sources including Lowe's Severe Weather / Natural Disaster Readiness Guideand the American Red Cross Website guides.

The idea behind natural disaster preparation is to "Be Prepared" for:

  • Utility Loss
  • Service Loss
  • Mobility Loss
  • Convenience Loss
  • Degrees of Property Damage and/or Loss

Residents of remote areas already realize that restoration will take longer. Therefore, some of their checklist items such as food will require larger reserves than might be needed in other areas.

The following checklist is generalized for surviving known natural disaster types. Specific types of disasters will require specific types of active preparation. For example, in an area known for flooding, one should consider having a one-way sewage valve that prevents sewage from reversing direction when the water treatment facility has a higher water/flood level than a residence. The Red Cross and some government agencies have further details about specific Natural Disaster Readiness.

Prior Plans, Arrangements and Actions

Short-Term and Long-Term plan for inadvertent separation

Escape route plan and alternate plans for

[ ] House Escape (e.g., meet at corner, church, school,
or________________________________________ [ ] Location Escape (e.g., meet at uncle's house in X City)
[ ] Address and Phone Numbers:

Pre Storage

[ ] A List/Photocopy of Important Numbers In a waterproof protector/container
[ ] Last year's Telephone Book
[ ] Personal/Family Address Book or List
[ ] Current Local Telephone Book
[ ] Insurance Agent(s)
[ ] Insurance Company (ies)
[ ] Policy (ies) in known safe place

Important Home Documents (Kept in sealed water proof box/containers/document-holders, whicturn are stored inside a fireproof safe, gun safe, or fireproof file cabinet):

[ ] Check Books, Birth Certificates, Pass Ports, Visas, Mortgages, Loans, Ownership, Cash, other small valuables
[ ] Computer backup system that is restorable
      - Computer/Data Information Disaster Recovery Plan
[ ] Emergency Cash. There is often a time frame when cash is unavailable, even if you have money in the bank and a dozen credit cards. When money systems are temporarily not working, cash can become a scarce and valuable commodity.

Disaster Survival Items & Issues

[ ] Large Plastic Trash Can(s), with Wheels and Cover used to store the Disaster Supplies, 40 to 55 Gallon, no holes (leak proof / floatable).
       - If new and clean, it may be lined and filled with water
       - It is difficult to get liners larger than 55 gallon size
[ ] Plastic Sheeting (NOT the super thin cheap stuff, big rolls (found in paint supplies), 75 yards
[ ] Duct Tape, 150-175 yards (NOT masking tape)
[ ] Flashlight(s) and Batteries, tested and working

Observation 1: All family members tremendously more secure if they have their own flashlight, even if its an LCD light for a two-year-old.

Observation 2: Lately the expensive self contaperpetual electric generation by motion or crank lights seem to be worth consideration. There appear to be two versions, as some have very dull lighting and some are very bright - test before purchasing. Know the usage instructions.

[ ] Matches/Lighter, Dry, with reserve Fuel, Water Proof Container. Usually when these are needed there is 100% humidity, everything is wet, and the wind is blowing. Wind Proof Butane lighters work well below 7,000 feet Altitude. Magnesium Strikers work all the time, anywhere (not cheap, makes ignition spark, not flame). Matches and Waterproof Matches are less reliable in bad weather conditions. A mix is best.
[ ] Oil burning Lamps/Lanterns. Extra oil, maybe a few spare wicks and/or glass bulbs. Oil wicks dry out and any un-used oil in the lantern base will evaporate over time. Wicks may need to be re-primed with a little oil
– be careful, there is a reason that oil lamps are not used much anymore - any oil-lamp mismanagement is a fire hazard.

Warning: Do NOT leave kids, animals, or mentally challenged people around burning lamps.
Do NOT leave lamps on table cloths or similar conveyances as they may be pulled off and start a fire too easily.

[ ] Fire Extinguishers, quantity 2 x 10-20 Pound, ABC Type Rating (only and always)
[ ] Candles, Many, Long Burn Time is Best. Learn to save all candles accumulated over time in a candle (shoe) box

Warning: There are times when using candles/oil lamps is a safety hazard (presence of: natural gas, dust/small particles, chemical agents, anything that can burn or explode; also kids, pets, and wind or loose materials create additional safety issues).
Warning: Do NOT leave candles unattended and their benefit is for after the disaster, NOT during the disaster

[ ] Batteries for all existing battery operated equipment (Look through this list for any reminders)


[ ] First Aid items: See First Aid

Communication Considerations - Make reasonable choices

[ ] Device Batteries and Spares, Fully Charged
[ ] Gather the Battery Charging Units (House and Automobile). Note:-Sometimes people live off generator and Automobile charged battery systems for weeks. Sometimes the generator is located at a friend’s home, a Church or a business establishment

Two Way Communication Units

[ ] Cell Phone, Satellite Phone
[ ] CB Radio and or base station (system)
[ ] CB/2 Meter/Ham Transmitter (Requires Power System, Antenna System, and prior knowledge/training/and a license to operate). This may be a neighbor.
[ ] Internet: Don't forget the Internet (when available).

One Way Communication Units

[ ] AM/FM portable radio, Short Wave Receiver [ ] Radio (battery operated, also with AC is better) with shortwave reception is best, digital and analog
[ ] TV (battery operated, also with AC is better) analog and digital signal capable

Water & Container considerations

(Most likely used for cleanup but can be treated and drank. Assumes clean environment to start and water boiled for 5 minutes and/or chemical treated [Read treatment instructions. If Clorox, non scented and non soapy, one per liter/quart or five drops per gallon, mix and let set for at least five minutes]).

Refill sanitized bottles over time

[ ] Best: Large Construction Site Plastic Water Jugs with a side tap (not cheap, at least one, 20 to 30 gallon. Fill it where it will be stored by hose, pitcher, or water cans.
[ ] Plastic Water Bladders, Water Cans (3 to 5 gallon, Many, Plan One Gallon per Person per Day minimum, more if working or other known local situation).

Sustenance (NON-Refrigerated):


[ ] Stew, Beans, Meat, Fish, Peanut Butter, Other Protein

[ ] Vegetables
[ ] Milk
[ ] Soup
[ ] Juice
[ ] Survival or Camping Prepackaged Meals 

Caution: Most Prepackaged Meals Require Water Plastic:

[ ] Gatorade (powder or liquid form)

Caution: Powdered mixes require water. 


[ ] Vehicle(s) topped off, and Road Ready. Consider Evacuation, where/when appropriate. See Vehicle & Travel Checklists
[ ] Plastic Fuel Containers, Appropriate, Correct Fuel Type, Safely Stored. Fuel can be a hazard if not properly protected. Metal cans rust; full cans prevent water condensation.
[ ] Propane Fuel Bottle(s), full Fuel Hose or Fuel Siphoning System [ ] Optional: Fuel Hose or Fuel Siphoning System
Warning: Don't get yourself into a situation where you may be considered to be a looter. Know your neighbors, work with friends.
[ ] Generator: Topped off with Gasoline and Oil. Trade off exists between Size (Watts) and Fuel Use. Generally, the bigger the better, bigger units use more fuel. Best Case: 1800 Watt and a 5000 Watt. 5000W stays stationary. 1800W ported for tool use. Not to be used in a home or enclosed space. Read the operator’s manual and know appliance Watt ratings. DO NOT Connect to the house current, plug appliance into extension cord.

· Note: Propane Generators also exist but are only worth consideration if you have access to a very large propane fuel reserve source.

[ ] Extension Cords: 50 Ft, Heavy Duty, 4 to 8 count
[ ] Stove/Grill: White Gas, Propane, and/or Charcoal, Camping type. Propane seems to five more utility with 10 and 20 pound bottles (which can be used for other items). The system has the greatest utility if it can also function from the 1 pound bottles (which are commonly sold in "sporting goods" departments or stores).

· Caution Keep bottles current as they expire by law (propane suppliers/dealers know the requirements).

[ ] Propane Lantern that can run from the same fuel tank as stove cooking system and/or from little one pound fuel bottles. Use a "tree or gang" hose outlet (mantels, wrench, and hoses).
[ ] Refrigeration/Cooler/Ice (mix solutions if possible):
  • Pre set all refrigerators or freezers to coldest setting.
  • Open as little as possible.
[ ] Mini Electric or Propane Operated Refrigerator, Combination Electric and Propane is best.
[ ] Cooler(s): Bigger is better, more than one if possible (coolers usually can float, if necessary)
[ ] Ice: If you have a freezer, use the freezer as a cooler. Pre-Freeze blocks of ice in plastic bags and/or buy (Ice can be a very valuable commodity).
[ ] Bow Saws: One 3-4 Foot Blade, One 2 Foot Blade, Spare Blades
[ ] Face Masks, Disposable
[ ] Trash Bags (2 boxes Kitchen size, and 1 box/roll of Lawn/55 Gallon Drum sized)
[ ] Zip Lock type Plastic Baggies (Gallon and Quart)
[ ] Safety Goggles or Safety Eye Shield(s)
[ ] Plastic Buckets (5 gallon size, 3-5 count)
[ ] Sponges, Big (size of 2 fists of 1 big male, 3-5 count)
[ ] Bleach (pure bleach, NOT the color fast stuff), used for sanitizing.
[ ] Towels (Lots of Paper and Cloth)
[ ] Knives (HD Swiss Type & HD Survival Type)
[ ] Baby Needs
[ ] Baby Wipes / Handy Wipes, These have great utility for individual cleanup (like a bath in a box)


[ ] Coloring Books/Paper, Crayons
[ ] Reading Books (parents too)
[ ] Paper, Pencils, Color Pencils
[ ] Little Job Responsibilities (putting pictures in albums, memorizing the states/capitols/Presidents)
[ ] Can Opener, manual (Knives and P38's get old in a hurry)
[ ] Camera, working, with Film (Disposable Camera can be stored). Take pictures of the immediate after-disaster effects before restoration/clean-up work begins, especially for insurance purposes
[ ] Soap (bar and dish liquid). Personal Hygiene is very important. Soap is the #1 bacteria killer.
[ ] Disinfectant [ ] Toiletry Kit(s)
[ ] Sewing Kit
[ ] Work Gloves, enough for family and friends.


[ ] Good heavy duty work clothes, changes of clothing
[ ] Underwear and good work socks
[ ] Heavy duty boots
[ ] Wide brim hat(s)
[ ] Eating ware (the idea is sanitation disposability in an area where water is not readily available, otherwise use your regular eating ware)
[ ] Paper plates
[ ] Paper cups
[ ] Plastic eating ware / cutlery
[ ] Aluminum foil, heavy duty and wide
[ ] Medications: It is wise to have a list and schedule of medications for each person. Some meds require special cooling or handling.
[ ] Use plastic bags and mark them as needed
[ ] Paper and Pencils
[ ] Water Proof Markers, Lots
[ ] Toilet Paper, Lots
[ ] Paper Towels, Lots
[ ] Pet Food and Water Considerations

Camping Equipment:

[ ] Tent and associated gear
[ ] Sleeping bags
[ ] Stove, working with all pieces present plus fuel
[ ] Blankets / space blankets
[ ] Mattress/pads
[ ] Chain saw, spare chains, oil, lube grease, keys/wrenches, spark plug, gasoline (in container).
[ ] Axe(s)
[ ] Cordless drills (charged, spare battery), drill bits, screw bits (+ & -), hex bits, (Torx bits if needed)
[ ] Screws: Assortment (boxes) of Phillips (+) round head size 8, 10, & 12 at lengths of 1, 1.5, 2, 3, 4 inches
[ ] Hammer, nails (boxes of flat heads, 1, 2, 3, and 4 inch)
[ ] Wrenches, large, medium, and small (for 1/4 inch to 3 inch nuts)
[ ] Pliers (large & medium)
[ ] Scissors, big (box cutter in a pinch)

Levers (Heavy duty for blown down work - AVOID Electrical Lines):

[ ] Crow bar, long (3 foot)
[ ] 6 foot long, 2 inch wide steel pipe
[ ] Wood 6 feet of 2x4 or 4x4 inch posts, no knots (does not conduct electricity or transmit heat)

Ladders (AVOID power lines! Read Safety Instructions):

[ ] 6 Foot step ladder
[ ] 24-34 Foot extension ladder


[ ] Minimum of 8 to a bundle: 8 foot long, knot-free 2x4's
[ ] Minimum of 2: 4x8 foot sheets, 3/8 inch thick
[ ] Other lumber as needed/desired
[ ] Nylon rope and tow straps, for dragging and other heavy duty work, (strength measured in tons, not pounds)


[ ] 1 long flat blade
[ ] 1 long spade (pointed) blade
[ ] 1 snow shovel (with a long-tined rake - works surprisingly well for muddy and wind-blown debris).
[ ] Mops, brooms


[ ] 1 Metal (Heavy Duty)
[ ] 1 Long Tine (Plastic or Metal)

Cleaning Supplies:

[ ] Buckets, soap, sponges, towels, heavy duty rubber or latex gloves
[ ] Wet/Dry vac
[ ] Wheelbarrow, big, with airless tires best for this situation. If pneumatic front Tire, then fill with correct air pressure. Tire Pump, Flat Tire Repair Kit, Tube

Other Considerations

[ ] The second most common disaster regret (after life and death issues) is the loss of pictures and photo albums. Consider a storage/relocation plan. This is a good responsibility for kids.
[ ] Neighbor/family check/support/report System
[ ] Livestock Safety
[ ] Pet ID, vaccination, photos, papers
[ ] Consider investing in a total propane backup system (4+ propane bottles [20 pound], stove, lamps, mini refrigerator [about .5 bottle used per day with mini-refrigerator])
[ ] House standby generator
[ ] Pipe heaters, wood burning stove, HD hair dryers
[ ] People shelter - safe area creation/designation and reinforcement
[ ] Safe fire clearing around house (including firewood storage way away from house or building), ability to seal up a house

Fireproof a house:

[ ] Waterproof a house, Earth dam walls

Dwelling Elevation:

[ ] Sand Bags (a temporary solution)
[ ] Landscaping (a permanent solution)


[ ] Water purifier. Hand operated, expedition type, typically available through better camping supply stores. Read Instructions and have extra filter cartridges.
[ ] Windproof/storm-proof a house (pre made window coverings with fast connect/disconnect bolt system)
[ ] Emergency fire fighting system (small trailer with water tank, generator, pump, hose, fire suppressant chemical.
[ ] Big fans
[ ] One way sewage flow valve
[ ] Plan for gathering and storing loose outdoor/lawn items - a good responsibility for kids.
[ ] Document Storage (Waterproof/Fireproof containers, Complete Offsite Way Away Remote Digital Storage)
[ ] Plan for shutting down utilities, quickly
[ ] Earthquake proofing (lots to do here, research online)
[ ] Spare Circuit Breakers
[ ] Various Sized, Stackable, Sealable Plastic Storage Boxes

Alternate Transportation:

[ ] Bicycles
[ ] Small boat, canoe, inflatable raft with oars/paddles & gear.
[ ] ATV
[ ] Snow Mobile