Be Prepared to Shelter in Place


Note: This is the second part of a two-part series. Part one evacuation.

In our previous article, we shared how you should be prepared to evacuate your home. In this article, we share how you should prepare to shelter in place for scenarios such as pandemics, earthquakes, inclement weather, and civil unrest or war. You should also prepare for disruptions in transportation and power, such as what we experienced with rolling blackouts due to excessive power use.

You should start with an emergency supply kit, say Palomar Health experts in emergency and disaster management, Lisha Wiese and Brent Ansell. This supply kit can be an extension to your go bags discussed in the previous article but includes more items for long-term living as you might need to shelter in place for a number of days. Every kit should start with at least one gallon of water, per person, per day including pets. You should also have at least three days of non-perishable food for every person and pet in the household, a first aid kit, flashlights, a transistor radio, extra batteries and a way to power your electronic devices such as battery packs, hand crank devices or even portable solar panels. A hand water purifier is a great backup plan if you have limited water storage space. You should also have blankets, glow sticks, matches, can openers and maps, says Ansell. Much of this could be part of an easy-to-access camping kit.

Wiese stresses you should always have at least half a tank of gas in your car because if your shelter in place turns into an evacuation or you have the opportunity to get supplies, the gas station might not be open or have long lines.

Because many disasters lead to power outages, you should prepare to survive without electricity and natural gas for several days. This is especially critical for those with medical needs such as oxygen. In these cases, you should have easy access to a gas-powered generator, fuel or battery backup system. To get advanced warning, Ansell suggests signing up for alerts from your power company.

Perishable items currently in your refrigerator should receive priority for eating, such as chicken and milk, as they are likely to go bad first, especially in a power outage.

“If you can delay having to use your canned food and disaster food, you’ll be in pretty okay shape,” Ansell said.

Meat and even many non-perishable foods will need to be heated/cooked (beans, rice, pasta, etc.), so you should own a propane, butane or white gas portable stove with accompanying fuel (another great camping item).

Wiese suggests storing personal hygiene and sanitary supplies, such as plastic bags and wet wipes.

Communication lines, especially cell phone towers, may be down for a period of time. Therefore you should have a backup landline and CB (citizens band) radio.

If you want to take your emergency preparedness to a new level, you might consider purchasing a satellite phone, become licensed to operate a ham radio and install a backup battery system for your entire home.

As is the case with an evacuation plan, you should practice your shelter-in-place plan by turning off the power to your home and spending an evening with flashlights and a transistor radio.

Return To Previous Page