Ali Edwards Capture life. Create art.

March 16, 2011

Are You Ready?

Along with many of you, the people of Japan have been on my mind and in my prayers.

I’ve been thinking about the unimaginable things that people there are facing right now. I’ve watched the videos; I’ve seen the before and after images; I’ve listened to the stories that move me to tears. There really are no words.

I’ve been thinking about how much I loved Japan the two times I visited – once in high school with my Dad and once for a scrapbooking event a few years back. It’s one of my favorite places I’ve traveled to and I hope to visit again.

I’ve also been thinking about our own disaster readiness (or lack of readiness) here at home. What we would do, in our own family, if there was an earthquake? We’re not in a tsunami danger zone here (we’re an hour from the coast), but we’re definitely in an area they say is simply waiting for the “Big One.”

I decided we need to take action. We need a family disaster kit/plan/etc. We’ve got a few things in our garage, but definitely not enough, and we don’t have a plan.

I’m starting with the Red Cross website. I downloaded the Be Red Cross Ready (PDF) and will be getting together our plan and kits over the next couple of weeks. Here’s another site to check out:

Many of you live in areas of the country and world that face natural disasters more frequently. Regardless of where you live, do you have a disaster plan in place? Do you have supplies on hand? Do your kids know what to do?


  • 1.
    zewa said…

    Thank you Ali for posting the link to the Red Cross and 72hours. I think we all need to make time in our busy schedules to discuss these things and make commitments with our loved ones. One can never be prepared for these types of emergencies I believe, but some of the measures are definitely useful.

  • 2.
    Paula in Australia said…

    Hi Ali I am sure you are psychic! This is so timely at the moment for me here in Australia too. I have really been struggling this week with the horrible start to this year. My husband’s family were caught in the floods that killed 25 people in Toowoomba/Brisbane (thankfully none of his family). My family were then in the middle of the Cyclone Yasi that hit in North Queensland (it hit their hometown on the coast) and then the news of the Christchurch earthquake and now Japan. My thoughts and prayers are with all those who have been effected by these disasters and it is a very timely reminder to us all about our own readiness. Thanks for your foresight and ability to get this information out to those of us who need it. Peace and Love from my home to yours xxxx

  • 3.
    Michelle said…

    After reading this I googled my home town plus “disaster preparedness” and found quite a bit of information on local resources – including a city run training program on how to help yourself and others during a crisis.

    May none of us ever needed it.

  • 4.
    Rachael said…

    Hi Ali, I just wanted to add that those with pets may also find this resource helpful:

    • ….
      ShellyP said…

      Thank you so much for posting this link, so many people forget to think of the pets in times of disaster. We have 4 dogs that share a home with us, and I plan on using the info from this site to be ready just in case. Thanks a bunch!

  • 5.
    Marsaille said…

    My brother (who was in the military) swears by this guy who is Special Forces. Of course, his approach is for a different kind of disaster, but all info is valuable. I can think of how his bug out bag would be helpful if you are in an area that doesn’t have a dome to temporarily hide in.

  • 6.
    janie said…

    Thanks for the info …. I live in the mid-west and we are finally digging out of all the snow …. I just pray that snow is the worse of our disasters.
    These web-sites will certainly be a start to a plan because you never know what could happen.
    Thx again

  • 7.
    dawn said…

    Ali and everyone else, thank you so much for helping and pointing us in the right direction to help our families and others. This is a huge and devasting event that has happened. Cannot imagine what they are going thru but we can reach out to help each other and be ready for anything that may come our way. Sending prayers and hope and strength for all the people in Japan at this time to get thru this ordeal. Thank you Ali for sharing this with us and look forward to your future kits/plans on this.

  • 8.
    MargieH said…

    Hi, Ali! It’s been awhile but I do lurk on your blog :)

    Thank you for your kind words about Japan – I will pass them on to my Jpn scrapbooking friends (the ones I know are safe). My entire family live in Tokyo and they are safe…so far.

    I love that you are posting about a disaster plan – we have a partial one and need to complete it. Although we live in the Midwest and we do not have TSUNAMI, we do have reactors and tornadoes plus we do have an occasional earthquake. But these do not matter either as fires, floods and power outages are also a mini-diseaster too.

    Again, thank you for thinking of Japan and her people! xo
    MargieH in Chicago

  • 9.
    sue said…

    My husband and I have watched with horror all the things happening in Japan. Our son and his family live in Florida, Hurricane Country, and they always update their emergency kits this time of year. I guess it’s time we get our own ‘kit’ in order. Living int he midwest we don’t think of earthquakes often but we do live near a fault line so it is possible. We also are exposed to tornadoes and severe thunderstorms. Thanks.

  • 10.
    Linda Trace said…

    what a great post, I think it’s really important to think about these things AHEAD of time. In Australia we’re more prone to bushfires than anything, but so many people don’t even do the basic things they should to prevent a tragedy.

    I have friends in Japan and lived there so my heart is aching terribly for them. I’m praying every minute that they are all ok and their families are safe too.

    Another important thing to remember is to explain to our children what to do. With all that is on the news (pictures, videos of homes ruined, people crying, etc etc), they will no doubt ask us what do we do if it happens to us? It’s important to explain it to them I think. Tell them teh ‘plan of action’ and it will help them to know you’ve thought about it, that there’s a plan and they will feel much safer than if we just gloss over it.

    thanks again for such an important post Ali.

  • 11.
    Catherine said…

    You just summed up how I bet most of us are feeling. I work at a newspaper have gone through hundreds of photos for our coverage-devastating. The images of the displaced babies and kids get me the worst.
    For preparedness, people may want to look into local emergency alerts to signup for. A lot of towns have alerts for major emergencies that will notify you via email, cell phones, office phones, etc.

  • 12.
    Dorothy F said…

    Thanks, Ali. Living in a hurricane (Florida) area and on the coast, I know I am not anywhere as planned as I should be. Thanks for the sites, I will get going now too.

  • 13.
    Karen said…

    I live in an area where blizzards and ice storms are the worst disasters we’ve ever had. Nonetheless, we are NOT prepared for anything worse should it arrive, so these links are very helpful. I need to get a plan and a kit together. Thanks.

  • 14.
    Juju said…

    Ali, you’ve done a great public service–at least for those of us who read your blog–by posting about individual and family disaster preparedness. I feel SO strongly about this, having lived through two major hurricanes.

    Though we depend on government assistance, during the time immediately following a disaster, there’s only so much government agencies can do, and it may take a long time for them to get to people located very remotely. So we have to be ready to do what we can for ourselves.

    My husband and I have learned the hard way, so we now have an evacuation plan, and every spring, we refresh our hurricane supplies (drinking water, canned goods, dog supplies, gas grill, generator in good order, plywood for windows, etc.)

    One good way to build up your disaster kit is to focus each week on something you need and make sure you’ve got that need covered (planned, in stock, in good operating order, whatever). But to my mind, the FIRST thing to do is to make sure you have an evac or meeting plan–where would you go if you had to leave your home unexpectedly? How would you get there? Where would you plan to meet with your family members in the event that a disaster finds you scattered?

    This stuff is no fun to think about, but you may find that you rest better once you’ve got it covered.

  • 15.
    Melissa said…

    Ali, our home was destroyed by a hurricane in 2004. Our town was without power for 2.5 weeks. We lived in a FEMA-provided trailer on our front yard for several months while my husband and his friends rebuilt our home in an effort to save money. I’d be happy to share what I learned.

    • ….
      Ali said…

      I’d love to read what you learned Melissa.

  • 16.
    Julie L. said…

    As someone who has been directly impacted by a tornado in Iowa, a hurricane in Louisiana, and now wildfires in Colorado I thank you for posting this. I’ve yet to find a part of the world that is immune to natural disasters, although I would strongly consider moving there given my luck if that place existed. As others have said I think having a plan of what you would do is key. Often times communication is difficult after a disaster and having the comfort of your family can make all the difference when the rest of your life has been destroyed. I wish the people of Japan peace and comfort as they put their lives back together.

  • 17.
    Sue TR said…

    Great post Ali,
    I don’t think anyone is NOT thinking about Japan these days…horrible, I took the kids and their friends out for lunch for their 1/2 day yesterday and we couldn’t even get away from it there…news on the tv’s in the bar area. Have been trying to shield them from the images but there have been a lot of questions (they and their friend are 9 and his sister is 6) and it’s a good entre to discussing What Would We Do? We live a few miles outside of Boston so we have ‘Noreasters and snow and supposedly, we sit on a major fault line.

    We have always had water stocks…last year we had a major water line rupture so couldn’t use our water to drink/cook for 2 or 3 days…big wakeup call for a lot of people. Flashlights, batteries, oil lamps and charcoal grills for cooking and we always have a lot of food in the cupboards.

    Thank you for the reminder to get the rest of the plan together…You can’t rely on anyone but yourselves if something horrible happens. I (and I’m sure every other mom) have nightmares about a disaster while my kids are at school, hubby is at work in boston and I can’t get to anybody!

  • 18.
    Sue TR said…

    and I just thought of a few other things….
    -Crank radio (thought this was silly until the power went out and I wanted to listen to the news, and yes, they really do work!)
    -Fully charged cell phone…I try to charge it every night so it’s ready. Am looking into getting a solar charger for it so can charge it on the go!
    -Gas tank never below 1/3 or so…I try and fill-up every monday, even if it’s topping off…especially important in winter as you never know if you will get stuck somewhere.
    -Hand sanitizer in case you can’t wash with water.

  • 19.
    Kirsten J said…

    When I worked at Nordstrom I was on the safety board. Sat in on some disturbing meetings about preparedness, and for years after those meetings, I had a well-stocked “kit” in the bottom of my pantry. I rotated water there regularly, freshened batteries….and then after 2 or 3 years and no earthquake, I cleaned out the pantry and let it go. Then we had that Nisqually quake, which barely rattled us, and I never reconsidered it, we moved to a brand new house which the builder assured us could withstand a big earthquake. But just the other day, I decided even though it might be a bit of an expense and hassle to get a kit together, I decided it would be a form of cheap insurance. It’s not about if your house falls down, it’s about having water and a few essentials. So….I have a goal to clean out the pantry and make space in the garage soon.

  • 20.

    I spent yesterday morning refreshing our 72 hour kits. I agree it’s overwhelming, but I just picked something to start on and went for it. If I just keep plugging away, it will all get done. For me, my first priorities are the 72 hour kits, our water supply, having digital copies of our essential documents, and creating a family emergency plan.

  • 21.
    Deb Pereira said…

    Thanks for the links…I’ve been thinking about this alot lately as I’m sure so many others are. It was helpful to have the information at hand. I’ve printed the info and will begin our preparations.

  • 22.
    o-girl said…

    Excellent post, Ali. Thanks for the links. ‘Are you ready?’ is a question I believe we’ve all been asking ourselves but thank you for the gentle reminder to take action if we are not ready. We have extra water on hand but nothing like a 72 hr kit.

    Along with getting ready, my daughter & I have decided to take the money that would’ve been spent on preparing dinner for a few days for our family of 4 and donating that to the Red Cross. We’ll eat ramen or rice for a few nights. It’s not a big deal when you think of the volumes of people in Japan who are going without. I’ve seen a couple of news reports of some Japanese people in the streets, offering the little food they have to the reporters. I’ve been moved by the gentle graciousness of these people.

    Thanks again for the links & post. All the best to you & your family.

  • 23.
    Deborah Tisch said…


    Thanks for sharing such important information about disaster preparedness. My co-workers and I were talking about this very thing this morning. Putting a plan in place is on my agenda as well.

    I want to share a prayer that came to me that lifts up hope for all who are suffering from this.

    Here is the link:

  • 24.
    Lisa said…

    Thanks for sharing this…makes it easy to find.

  • 25.
    Janet White said…

    Absolutely we have a plan here, my husband and I have prepared to live as independently as possible over the past couple of years. We live in the mountains of Colorado and all we have left really to add is a deep well hand pump so we can still get water if electricity is out for a long time. We’ve built a working pantry with enough to last us at least a month and for some items up to a couple of years. The disaster in Japan has us fine tuning and sharing our info on how we do this with friends who finally don’t see us as crazy.

    Our neighbor is taking it a bit further and is going off the grid as much as possible – installing solar and such. She’s also basically an herbalist and has a wealth of knowledge from her grandmother on how to do things the ‘old’ way – how to get your cattle through a drought, how to preserve eggs, how to create your outhouse, and such.

    She and I have started a website with this type of info and more – and we’re getting experts on there such as a master gardener from Virginia and her solar guru will hopefully join us this week. Basically we take the view that all of us can figure it out together better than separately. is the site.

  • 26.
    Noelle said…

    I read through the list. In Ohio, we get tornados. But I have no kit setup like that. With a baby here, I really should. That said…now I have to figure out where in my condo I can put that. We have storage issues already. ALso, the lack of basement makes it diffuclt for me to figure out where is safe in the house during a storm. I think my engineer husband and I have some work to do.

  • 27.
    Cate said…

    I’m not as prepared as I’d like to be living right on the westcoast, but my parents are as prepared as anyone could be I think. They even have had the house wired so that they can hook up their kitchen/family room to a generator and have a collection of $5 bills so they don’t have to worry about change in stores.

  • 28.
    Pam Abbott said…

    Thanks for sharing Ali! Yet another reminder that we are not ready either. I might suggest to all of us out there that we all should have a kit in our cars. You never know where you will be when disaster strikes.

  • 29.
    Donna B said…

    Ali, thanks for sharing your thoughts about disaster preparedness and I know we are all sending our prayers to the people of Japan.

    o-girl, I also love your idea about sending a donation to the red cross and I am going to follow your ramen noodle plan so that I can make a donation as well.

    Another idea is this pre-assembled emergency backpack that is available, this one is at OSH:

    Even if you plan to spend time creating a more elaborate plan, this is something you could get on hand right away, and would be great for a car, office, of small apartment. A perfect first step if anyone is feeling overwhelmed as they get started with the disaster preparedness process.

  • 30.
    Alison Day said…

    Thanks for sharing and also the reminder that each of us should have our own plans should the worst happen. I am in the UK so will research what is advised here (I am guessing terrorism and fire are our main issues rather than adverse weather of hurricanes). It has also made me think the responsibility I have as a parent, to educate my children.

    I also have spent time in Japan and have such fond memories of the country and the people who live there. A friend of mine was unable to locate her nearest and dearest but has just found out that they have been rescued by the Japanese Self Defense force and they are hospital (but safe). I know not every-one will have similar stories to tell. My thought are with this amazing country and their people at this time…

  • 31.
    Jennifer said…

    Here’s a place to get started with an family emergency plan!

  • 32.
    Michele H. said…

    Thanks for posting this Ali!

    It’s strange because I have done quite a few trainings on disaster preparedness for child care providers in my community, but have put off making my own plans for myself and my family. You just never think it can happen to you until something like this trajedy in Japan occurs. We have family there and it’s truly a wake up call.

    Here is another wonderful link that I booked marked that may be of use to you and your readers. It’s something that I know I need to do soon:

  • 33.
    sarah said…

    great post ali. i’ve been thinking A LOT about this too. thankfully, like you, i’m an hour from the coast – but i’m pretty nervous about what “the big one” might do to my 100 year old apartment buildng.

    a friend of mine (a local fire chief) posted this link: on his facebook last weekend. looks like it could be another good resource.

  • 34.
    carol in seattle :) said…

    The leaders of the LDS Church have encouraged emergency preparedness for as many years as I can remember. Not just for a natural disaster, but for things like job loss too. There’s lots of information at I think it’s important for ALL of us to be ready for anything that can happen!

  • 35.
    Laurie said…

    I’m in Houston, near enough to Galveston Bay that we were in the mandatory evacuation zones for Hurricanes Rita and Ike. I usually put together a food/water kit in June when hurricane season begins. However, I think a plan is needed, something more than food and water. Thanks for the reminder.

  • 36.
    Megan said…

    My family all live down on the Central Coast of California, near the Diable Canyon NPP. I and my small-family, being 900 miles away, have for years been the ‘designated call number’ meaning that my phone number is to be used in the event of any localized emergency down there–checking in to notify other family members, etc. A good idea for anyone in many different situations.

  • 37.
    Mandyb said…

    yes i have a kit for me and my cat….and since my country New Zealand also had a few MAJOR earthquakes recently i have just updated all the items in it!!! (in case)
    here is a link to the post i wrote last year

    i must do another post with more detail!!!!

  • 38.
    Carmel Keane said…

    Yes – is the answer to all your questions Ali – We live in New Zealand and we have an emergency kit; and emergency plan and everyone is aware of it. Another important point is to update your plan as things chnage for your family – children getting older – moving schools – adults changing jobs. You may need variations on your plan too eg. for the days Anna is with you and the days she is elsewhere.

    Our emergency kit has been set up for years now (and thank God we have never used it!) The other importnat thing is to have regular days scheduled to update food and water items in kit.

    With continued prayers for the crisi in Japan and our own disaster city of Christchurch in NZ.

  • 39.
    Jayne said…

    Hi Ali

    Having just been through the two big earthquakes in Christchurch, NZ, I am so pleased to see you promoting being ready for anything. We had an emergency kit ready, except water! When we are able we will be buying and filling 2 very large water containers for storage. We were lucky that we live far enough from the town that our water supply was not interrupted … this time.

    I also heard about a woman who keeps a backpack for each of her children hanging at the back door. Inside are personal details, medicines, spare clothes, shoes etc, water and some snacks. I understand that she changes the supplies in the bag when needed and they are easy to grab when necessary. I think this is a good idea too.

  • 40.
    Laney said…

    Here’s another link for you.

  • 41.
    Vicki said…

    Having come through the last 2 big earthquakes to hit our city of Christchurch, NZ the one thing that struck me was whilst we were prepared with our kit, we still got caught out with flat cell phones so have got a car charger now. Also you do need some cash as most of the petrol stations were only taking cash payments. We flagged the candles in favour of a battery operated light as the candles were just too dangerous in the aftershocks.

  • 42.
    Antoinette said…

    hi ali, just wanted to say thanks for sharing this.

  • 43.
    Karen said…

    Thank you Ali, for reminding all of us on the importance of planning for such disasters. I live in California and have been waiting for the “big one” to hit for years but never done anything about it. I am married now and with two young children so this is the time. Thank you for caring enough to share the information with all of us.

  • 44.
    keri said…

    we were watching the news about the nuclear plant and japan last night. with mixed feelings. we’re relieved that, for now, the weather seems to be in their favor and the wind will be sweeping the radiation out into the ocean. but that also means that it’ll head towards us, here in HI. we’re accustomed to the occasional hurricanes, earthquakes and tsunami warnings but i think a lot of us are still well underprepared for major disasters. unfortunately, that also includes my family as well. i’ve had bookmarked for awhile but maybe now it’s time to actually do something.

    • ….
      keri said…

      oops. that was

  • 45.
    Teresa said…

    Ali thanks for the reminder. We went over our fire escape plan. My daughter(8) asked about her Simba I gave her when she was little. I had to tell you don’t go look for anything you just get out so now she is carrying him around everywhere. Something maybe little children should be reminded of is to get straight out of the house don’t worry about any belongings.

  • 46.
    DeAnna said…

    I have been thinking the same thing. We live in coastal BC, about an hour’s drive from downtown Vancouver. I’m thankful I don’t work downtown anymore, but still we need to be prepared. Here in BC we have a great website that prepares us for “the big one” and I will be printing it out and getting a plan prepared. I can’t help but think it’s coming, if you look at the sequence of events, there have been major earthquakes around the Pacific “Ring of Fire” from Chile, Haiti, New Zealand and now Japan in the last year. The only place it hasn’t hit is the west coast of North America…

  • 47.
    Shonie said…

    My husband and I are pretty well prepared BUT, I did pull out some information about what to do during different disaster scenarios. We have had to change a lot of what we were prepared for when we moved from California to Philadelphia. No earthquakes but lots of flooding and major storms. It always helps to keep updated on these things. What scares me is that Japan is one of the most, if not the most, prepared country in the world for disasters and yet look at the destruction.
    My prayers are with all of those suffering from this disaster.

  • 48.
    Brooke said…

    Great post Ali. We packed up our most prized possessions before the floods here in Brisbane – and that was a learning experience in itself. There really isn’t much we deem as “we can’t live without”. But we haven’t taken it any further, keeping a kit together. We have bits of pieces to include in a kit, but they are scattered around the house. We don’t have a meeting place either. If my hubby is at work and something happens with phone lines being cut we wouldn’t be prepared.

  • 49.
    Kimberly said…

    This is an excellent resource…

  • 50.
    Karen in VA said…

    Very timely post Ali, thank you for linking the sites. We live outside of Wash DC and immediately after Sept 11 I ordered earthquake preparedness kits from the Red Cross in Calif but I was thinking of terrorism. The kits come with the things people have already mentioned above and also in a container that can be lined with plastic and used as a toilet. We keep extra food and water at home and each car also has supplies. Our town has also had meetings about how to evacuate. The only thing I never did and should is make copies of our important papers. We also very rarely get hurricanes that knock out power and water so the kits come in handy for that too.
    Things happen no matter where you live so get prepared but then live your life.

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