September is National Preparedness Month

by Catherine Sweeney, Creative Circle
September 16, 2015

A safety kit means greater peace of mind, especially when preparing for a stormy Pacific Northwest winter. During September (National Preparedness Month), why not put together emergency supplies for your household? By combining shopping at Goodwill with a visit to your local market, you can assemble your kit in a budget-friendly and quick manner.

Emergency preparedness experts recommend organizing supplies for your safety kit in several ways. Create “grab-and-go” kits for home, car and work, and also store supplies for a longer stay in your home, minus power or other utilities.

Where to keep your kits
Organize the items that you’d need to take with you in the event of evacuation, and store them in an accessible place. If flooding is a risk in your neighborhood, plan accordingly. If you are planning for accessibility during an earthquake, consider storing your kit in a garage, closet, or storage room, on braced shelves.

For your car and/or workplace, create smaller versions of your grab-and-go kit, focusing on the necessities that you can carry with you.

Items available at Goodwill
  • Sturdy backpacks for your grab-and-go kit and large plastic tubs with lids for other household supplies
  • An extra, manual can opener
  • Flashlights—store in your kits and keep a couple, stocked with spare batteries, in accessible locations within your home
  • Sleeping bags and warm blankets
  • Packable tent 
  • A wrench or pliers to turn off your utilities following an earthquake (gas line) or as requested during other disasters
  • Spare scissors and pocket knife 
  • Playing cards
  • Walking shoes/sneakers for your car and workplace
  • Work gloves and heavy shoes (home)
  • One complete change of clothes per person in your household, plus waterproof and warm outerwear
  • Wind-up clock or wristwatch
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio 
  • A couple sets of utensils, ideally plastic.
Items from your local market
  • A three-day supply of non-salty, non-perishable food in the event of evacuation, and a two-week supply for home
  • Space blankets for your grab-and-go kit
  • One gallon of water per person for at least three days, and a two-week supply for home
  • Supplies for babies and toddlers, such as diapers
  • Moist towelettes, hand sanitizer, and personal hygiene items.
  • Extra batteries for flashlights
  • Garbage bags and ties
  • Household chlorine bleach and medicine-dropper, for emergency sanitizing and water purification.  Water purification tablets, available at camping stores, are helpful for your grab-and-go kits.
  • First aid kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Paper and pencils
  • Solar cell-phone charger
  • A safe alternative for heating your house during an electrical power failure (such as wood for a wood-burning fireplace or wood-stove)




















Cash and copies of important family documents and emergency contact information in a waterproof container.

Visit the American Red Cross’s page or Parent Map’s Blog for additional ideas and suggestions.   



Key household safety tips include turning off gas and electrical power at the main switch or valve in the event of a Flood Watch, evacuating if directed, and avoiding walking or driving through flood waters. Click here for more information.

During a windstorm, listen to your local news for emergency advice, and stay inside and away from windows. Avoid being outside, but if you are caught by surprise by the storm, always stay at least 50 feet away from downed power lines.  For more local windstorm tips, click here.

Power Outages
If your heating system stops working, don’t use gas ovens, ranges, barbeques or propane heaters to keep warm inside, since these units can create carbon monoxide. Only run generators outside. Click here for more safety tips for before, during and after the power outage, including food safety rules for refrigerated and frozen items.


With kits on hand and these safety tips in mind, you’ll be better prepared for the challenges of a Seattle winter, and for earthquake-readiness. 


Catherine Sweeney, APR is a professional writer and communicator affiliated with Creative Circle. She dedicates her Goodwill blog-writing in memory of her mom, an avid thrift-shopper and advocate for social change. 

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