Below are the winners of the ‘Send Me A Preparedness Tip, Win A Disaster Kit’ Contest. Readers were asked to send one of the following: an emergency preparedness tip, something you have done to prepare for a disaster, or a suggestion to improve preparedness in your community. Entries came by email, on the blog and through Twitter. The winners, chosen by random, will receive a disaster kit (see photo below) thanks in part to the CaliforniaVolunteers’ WEPrepare program. (Though I have also listed some of the other entrants at the bottom whose preparedness tips will also hopefully be helpful).
Scott Kidder/Oakland, California
I recommend keeping backup copies of your personal records in electronic form both at home and off-site. This can prove very useful in the event that your home is severely damaged or destroyed in a disaster. I purchased several rewritable DVDs with a capacity of 4.7 GB. Rewritable CDs may work, too, depending on how much information you want to store. To keep the information secure, I created an encrypted disk image (256-bit AES encryption) that contains all of my sensitive and valuable information. I consider it important to encrypt the data on the DVD so that the information is inaccessible should the disc become lost or stolen.
Jei-Nhy Quirantes/Kekaha, Hawaii
Information I store on the backup disc includes personal finance records (Quicken, Money, etc), tax returns, insurance policies, a home inventory (photos, videos, receipts), and irreplaceable photos and videos. I update the contents of the DVDs at roughly 6 month intervals. The update process takes only about 1-2 hours. You might keep a copies of the discs at work, in your briefcase/work bag, and in your go-bag/emergency kit at home. Having the information distributed lessens the likelihood of a total loss.
I’ve gathered important documents i.e. birth certificates, medical cards, insurance papers, will, placed them in a ziplock bag, and put them in my emergency kit. I’ve also scanned digital copies of each of them and uploaded them to a jump drive and emailed them to myself.
Rich Madden/Aurora, Illinois
The thing that most people overlook with emergency preparedness is that anything that you can do to mitigate the uncomfortableness of an emergency goes along way to keep them safe and sane. If you need to use restroom facilities and there are none, what are you going to do; I have heard to many stories of people using unknown leaves to clean themselves and using something like poison ivy, “Ouch”. Having a roll of toilet tissue and a garbage bag to contain the waste will go a long way to keeping you comfortable and safe. Also having a toothbrush and toothpaste helps with that morning after mouth that tastes so foul. Also having an extra pair of glasses just in case you loose your current pair so you can at least see clearly or not. The comfort of an event will go along ways to help ease the rehab of getting over the event.
One other thing if you have to evacuate your residence due to flood, fire, or earthquake, you will have to prove yourself to re-enter your community a copy of your homeowners insurance your, marriage license, your driver’s license or passport, will go a long way to secure your right to be in the community. These copies in certified form or in microfilm are acceptable.
Jon Abolins/Trenton, New Jersey
Mentally prepare for resilience in daily activities. One way is to develop the habit of “having an exit plan” mapped out as you go along. In the train carriage, note where the exits — including the pop-out window emergency exits — are. Count how many seats you are from the nearest exist. Similar practice applies to plane travel. When going into an office, school, etc. pay attention to the emergency exits, fire alarms, extinguishers, and such.
Mike Everett-Lane/Brooklyn, New York
Here are a couple I’ve gleaned from various sources:
1) Get several hundred dollars out of the bank, in small bills (ones and fives). If there’s a power outage, the ATMs and credit card machines will be down. Stores will run out of small bills quickly. Put the money in an envelope, and store it some place where you won’t spend it.
2) Make sure at least one of your phones can be powered with just the phone line, again in case of power outage you’ll still be able to make calls.
3) Keep a pair of old slip-on shoes under your bed, and a flashlight at hand. I use a Pak Light ( http://www.9voltlight.com/ ), attached with velcro to the underside of the bed frame.
David Chesler/Leesburg, Virginia
I work for the Loudoun County Chapter of the American Red Cross. As part of our Community Disaster Education (CDE) program I provide to any group or organization a free one-hour Disaster & Emergency Preparedness presentation. I promote Be Red Cross Ready… Build a Kit, Make a Plan and Get Informed. I start out with a ‘Shelter in Place’ scenario to get the group thinking. I enjoy this part of my job. I let them know when it comes to Disaster & Emergency Preparedness… I talk the talk, but more importantly I walk the walk.
CaliforniaVolunteers’ WEPrepare Disaster Kit
Patty Brooks/San Jose, California
Turn off your power and water for a weekend and survive it. You don’t really know how it will go until you try it. Trying this before you lose it in a real situation will give you an idea of what you will need when it really happens. Take notes and make a list of items most important to your survival. This is the best time of year for this drill. (its a great way to conserve energy and lower your bill).
I started a neighborhood association to get my neighbors together, then I held an Emergency Preparedness Awareness Fair and Blood Drive. We had a total of 327 attendees as follows: 275 guests, 12 staff , 12 agencies / 37 agency representatives, 3 City representatives &. 6 sponsors,
Our blood drive goal, 25 pints and we managed to collect 34 pints. The agencies included Ca, Highway Patrol (1) San Jose Crime Prevention Unit (3) Moreland School District (1) R.A.C.E.S (5) www.Iprepare.com (1) San Jose Prepared/CERT (4) Pelican Products (1) San Jose Fire Dept. & Paramedics (6) Ca Firesafe Council & Smokey Bear (2) San Jose Mounted Police (2 officers & 2 horses) Stanford Blood Center Mobile (6) S P N A (4) + 3 photographers + 10 staff volunteers. City Reps: Kim Shunk Director of the Office of emergency Services (1) District 1 Councilman Pete Constant & 1 photographer (2) Mayor Chuck Reed & 1 aide, 1 photographer (3)
Joseph Colon/Freehold, New Jersey (via Twitter)
Preparedness tip: cotton balls soaked with petroleum jelly stored in a medicine bottle make great firestarters — even in the rain!
Richard Holland/Houston, Texas
I have been through three hurricanes. It is certain that I will lose electrical power. I have started a spreadsheet listing the battery powered items that I have and the number and type of batteries it requires. I also have added an inventory of the batteries I have. This way I know how many to buy when a hurricane is noted in the Gulf. I have a 12 volt marine battery for my television and a solar charger to keep it charged. My current problem is my digital to analog converter. It is 9 volts. I will have to get a 12 to 9 volt adapter or a inverter to get 110 volts for the converter.
Rion Motley/Hampton, Virginia
I have a bit of property, and I grow fruit and vegetables (mostly blackberries and apples/pears/persimmons). So far I have randomly dropped by and talked to three relatively new folks in the neighborhood, and asked if they liked whatever fruit was coming into season at that point. Worked out pretty well. I’ve now got a retired (Armed) security guard, an experienced fisherman about my age, and a retired dominion power lineman on my list of neighborhood acquaintances. If you don’t have fruit trees (and why not?! it’s shade you can eat!) then bake some cookies or throw a barbecue or two and invite someone you drive past on your way to or from work. I was surprised at how readily people chatted with someone they didn’t know lived a few houses away. ;-)
Dadsfun5 (via Twitter)
Have a 3 party outside of ur area code ready for your family to call to pass infor on when us are a part in a disaster
The following entrants did not win the kit but offered good tips which I wanted to share:
Lloyd Colston/Altus, Oklahoma
For communications during a disaster, nothing beats amateur radio. The American Radio Relay League (http://www.arrl.org) is a group that helps obtain licenses. Local clubs abound nationwide to help local folks benefit from their new privilege.
Dennis Hanlon/Greenwich, Connecticut
Suggest people go home and turn off all their power (or at least pretend it’s off.) No tv (especially after June 12), no computer. Do they have flashlights at the ready? Do they have a battery powered radio? Do they have sufficient prescription drugs for 3 days? Do they have a first aid kit? Do they have a telephone that does not rely on electricity? Once folks see where there weaknesses are, they will be more open to other preparedness measures.
Jonathan Haber/Bethesda, Maryland
Here’s my preparedness tip: Help educate your neighbors by writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper reminding them and urging them to take preparedness into their own hands. Just today, I sent the following letter to the editor of my local “gazette” newspaper: “Thanks to the free “Alert Montgomery” notification system, I received a text alert today about the potential for flooding during this week’s rain storm. Alerts from the system have also warned me about road closures and more. An interesting statistic was published at the bottom of the alert. It said that the alert was sent to 544 users. If true, doesn’t that sound like a very low number in a county of almost one million residents? Come on neighbors, it shouldn’t be news to you that taking a few simple steps can make a big difference in ensuring your safety and well-being during an emergency. Go online now and check out the free resources that federal, state and local governments provide to help you stay informed and prepare for an emergency. At the very least, you should visit Ready.gov and pandemicflu.gov. If you live or work in Montgomery County, visit the county home page (just Google it) and follow the link to sign up for the free “Alert Montgomery” system to stay informed of emergencies (weather, traffic, etc.) in your community. Don’t be caught off-guard. Take the time now to prepare you, your family and your business to weather the storm.”
p.s. As a follow-up to my suggestion above, the local newspaper (Gazette) did publish my letter to the editor under the heading “Free services prepare us for emergencies”: http://www.gazette.net/stories/06032009/montlet173009_32523.shtml.
Blair Buchmeyer/St. Louis, Missouri
I think that one of the best things you can do to help with community preparedness is to help everyone learn to grown their own food either on their own lots or in community gardens.
John Armstrong/Ottawa, Ontario
Led worklight can be used hands-free (it has magnets and a hook for hanging) produces enough light to light a large room and runs for 5 hours.
Sarah Ward/Orem, Utah
I recently invested in a solar oven as an outlet for cooking in an emergency. Since it’s difficult to acquire new skills under duress in an actual emergency, I have begun cooking with my solar oven now to familiarize myself with it. It is absolutely amazing. No water. No messy clean up. No worries of scorching or burning. No constant monitoring. And no fuel of any kind is required. The solar oven is now officially my new cooking nirvana. So far I have used my solar oven to cook delicious chicken, roast, baked bread, sausage, ham and even pasteurize water. In fact, this is a pic of my yummy chicken – look at all the natural juices that come from cooking it in the solar oven! http://twitpic.com/60rgi. For people who don’t want to shell out more money, it is possible to make your own. Details at http://solarcooking.org/plans/funnel.htm.
Bryan Salamon/Queens, New York
Simple trick I learned to get waterproof matches. Dip a match head into hot wax, and let it cool. Once the wax is hardened, you have yourself a waterproof match.
I think the best tip I have is, not to overwhelm people! I have taught a couple of classes for my church on preparedness. I always tell people it isn’t about getting everything today, it is about getting one thing at a time, or learning something new. For example, have a flashlight under each bathroom sink, tape the power company phone number to it, and make sure it is always in the same spot! Also, learn how to open a garage door manually, or grow a basil plant in a sunny window for practice. Build on these new skills, and soon you will be a regular pioneer!