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Be Prepared for a Natural Disaster

by Dr. Jeremy Shapiro


Watching the video and pictures of natural disasters that occurred in the past two years serves as a reminder of how fragile life can be and that sometimes things are truly out of our own hands. We can prepare, but can we be fully prepared for an earthquake of a 9.0 magnitude?

I can tell you this, in Southern California where we expect the “big one” at any time, the magnitude of an earthquake like the one in Japan in March 2011, would be absolutely catastrophic.

But what exactly can we do while we wait for the “big one” or another natural disaster? Well, with thanks to the Family Readiness Kit: Preparing to Handle Disasters, 2nd Edition, via, I’d like to share some very important items that should be found on your family disaster supply list. Feel free to add anything you may feel has been left off the list.

Non-Food Items:

  • Battery-powered radio, flashlights
  • Extra batteries
  • First aid kit (include acetaminophen or other nonsteroidal antiinflamatory drug NSAID, antibiotic cream and antacids) and manual.
  • Prescription medications (month’s supply recommended)
  • Photocopies of prescriptions (pharmacy records may not be available right away)
  • Credit card and cash
  • Personal identification
  • Spare set of car keys
  • Extra pair of eyeglasses
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Signal flare
  • Whistle
  • Map of the area
  • List of important phone numbers
  • Special items for babies/young children/elderly.
  • 3 gallons of water per person
  • Bar soap/toiletries
  • Paper and pencils
  • Masking or duct tape
  • Plain chlorine bleach (may be needed to sanitize drinking water)
  • Plastic bucket with a tight lid.
  • Plastic garbage bags
  • Non-electric can opener and utility knife (like a Swiss Army knife)
  • Paper cups, plates, and plastic utensils
  • Blankets or sleeping bags
  • A change of clothing, rain gear, and sturdy shoes for each family member. (In warm weather climates, you may also want to include sunscreen and insect repellent)
Food Items:
  • Peanut butter and jelly
  • Ready-to-eat canned soup, canned meat, milk, fish, fruit and vegetables (10 cans per person is recommended)
  • Bread/crackers stored in waterproof bag or container
  • Powdered or single serve drinks
  • Cereal/granola bars
  • Packaged condiments
For Pets:
  • A two-week supply of dry and canned food
  • Water (1/2 gallon per day)
  • Litter box supplies
  • Traveling cage
And let me complete this by saying my thoughts and prayers are with those directly and indirectly impacted by the devastation in Japan.

Dr. Jeremy Shapiro currently practices as a general pediatrician in a large and extremely busy pediatric practice in Encino, California caring for newborns, college students, and all ages in between. He has been on active staff at a variety of hospitals/medical centers throughout the Los Angeles area which has given him the opportunity to not only teach medical residents but give seminars to soon-to-be parents.

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