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Published on June 05, 2020

6 Tips to Keep Your Family Safe in a Disaster

contents of disaster kit

With the recent images of mother nature’s at times devastating impact on the United States and around the globe, there is no time like the present to prepare your home for a state of emergency.

Hurricanes, flooding, wildfires, earthquakes—how can we prepare ourselves for the vast number of disasters that seem to be occurring with alarming frequency?

It can be overwhelming and make you want to hide, but Barb Jensen, EvergreenHealth's program manager for emergency preparedness, says following a few simple steps can create a significant difference in your ability to cope with whatever emergency might come your way.

Tip #1 - Educate Yourself

What are the risks where you live?

Here in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, we all think of "the big one," and yes, indeed, earthquakes are a significant concern.

But there are many other dangers that occur with great regularity: windstorms, power outages, flooding and wildfires.

Learn about the risks you face and use them to guide your planning.

Tip #2 - Make a Plan

It is important to determine how you will communicate with your family.

  • Who will be your out-of-state contact?
  • Where will you go if you must evacuate?
  • How will you provide for the needs of your pets?

Create a family response plan together. Engage all members of your family by sharing tasks and responsibilities.

Tip # 3 - Gather Your Supplies

Choose a safe place to store water (at least two gallons per person per day), food, medications, copies of prescriptions and important documents.

Plan to be ON YOUR OWN for 10-14 days. Daunting, yes? But doing a few things at a time will allow you to gather a good emergency cache of supplies.

There are great sources for supply checklists to assist you. Some good ones are available at

Tip #4 - Plan for Cash-Only

After a regional or a national disaster (think Cascadia or a pandemic), we are likely to be operating in a cash-only economy.

Few of us carry or keep large amounts of cash in this day of the debit card, but in an emergency, it is a must.

Don’t assume the bank or cash machine will be available, because it probably won’t.

Plan ahead and keep cash in small bills with your emergency supplies. Again, think of 10-14 days without outside support.

Tip #5 - Practice

No plans will be successful unless all members of the family know and understand their roles.

The more that families prepare together, the more successful they will be in making emergencies survivable and tolerable.

Tip #6 - Get Trained

Attend a Red Cross Disaster class, become Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) trained, get first aid- and CPR-certified, and learn how to Stop the Bleed.

A few steps taken to prepare now can truly be lifesaving for you, your family and your pets.

To find classes, please visit:

Red Cross:

CERT Program of Kirkland:

EvergreenHealth Emergency Preparedness Classes:!/classes/search

I hope this information has helped you feel more secure in your emergency preparedness plan, or inspired to talk with your family and create one.

While disaster scenarios are frightening and not enjoyable to entertain, we hope that that you, your family, your neighbors and your pets stay safe and healthy in every circumstance.

Get more information on emergency preparedness and to get you started on your family's plan.

Barb Jensen Meet the Expert

Barb Jensen, MD

Barb Jensen is the manager of trauma services and in charge of emergency preparedness at EvergreenHealth.

She’s had a lifelong passion for preparedness, and has a master’s level certification as a healthcare emergency professional.

Barb is also a member of the Washington State Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT).

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