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The California Fires-What Do You Need When You Find Yourself at Ground Zero For a Disaster?


You may have only minutes to evacuate, as many of the more than 850,000 forced to leave their homes during the California fires found out. What you have prepared ahead of time can affect not only your immediate outcome, but your long-term health as well.

The lucky evacuees were ready with a 3-day kit, an evacuation plan and a N-95 mask to protect their lungs. The importance of this emergency preparedness becomes clear in an instant when you suddenly find yourself at ground zero of a disaster. Unfortunately, according to a survey conducted by the American Public Health Association, less than 15% of households are prepared with a simple 3-day emergency kit of food, water and medication.

“A three day kit is like a spare tire. You hope you never need it, but it is like gold when you do,” said Dr. Tracy Ferea, Director of a Community Emergency Response Team in Mountain View California and founder of an emergency preparedness company. “A three day emergency survival kit is only about $129 for a family of four, making it a rather low cost insurance policy for your family,” she said.

Kits typically contain items to sustain your basic needs for three days in an easy to evacuate container such as a five-gallon bucket or backpack. Contents usually include food, water, shelter, light, first aid and a radio for emergency instructions. Kits should be personalized and supplemented according to a family’s special needs, such as medications, baby diapers, pet leashes and food, and important financial documents like your insurance policy.

Air quality can be a serious danger to your health in many disaster situations. The dust and smoke resulting from the 9-11 terrorist attack caused serious lung disease for many who were in the area. With basic safety items like a box of N-95 masks many people could escape the personal disaster resulting from an unnecessary loss of health.

People should be aware of the different qualities of masks available to them. An N-95 mask provides superior protection to the dust masks sold at hardware stores. They are able to filter out the small particles in smoke that can reach deep into the lungs and cause both immediate and long-term health problems. “Think of them as a HEPA filter for your lungs,” Ferea said.

Each member of a family should have an emergency contact card. It serves as the basis of an emergency plan. The cards contain an out of your neighborhood meeting place so that families can reunite when forced to leave their immediate neighborhood. It contains a out of state contact number, as phone lines inside a disaster area are preferentially reserved for emergency calls while lines outside the disaster area can often still be used. Emergency contact cards can be downloaded for free from

For more information on preparing for disaster or Ready Smart please visit or call 650-248-0655.


 Emergency Preparedness
 Emergency Survival Kits
 N-95 Masks
 Three Day Survival Kits
 Emergency Plan

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