An emergency preparedness kit. | Wikimedia Commons.

From the Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services:

The new year is a great time for setting resolutions—goals to strive for, things to achieve. This year, consider adding emergency preparedness to your list.

Massive flooding in Texas and Florida, and destructive fires throughout California serve as reminders that disasters are never far away. The occurrence of a natural disaster in Humboldt County is a matter of when, not if.

Getting fully prepared might sound daunting, but a few steps will go a long way toward success.

“While you’re watching New Year’s Day football games, you and your family can hunt for disaster supplies during commercial breaks.” 
—Linda Neilist

The main focus of emergency preparedness is preparing a family plan and assembling provisions and supplies.

An emergency preparedness plan helps ensure families know how to respond to disasters, and how to be of most help to each other and their communities.

Start plans by discussing these questions with family and friends: How will you receive emergency alerts and warnings? What’s your evacuation route? How will you communicate with your family if you become separated or communications systems fail?

Once you’ve answered these questions, start gathering supplies and provisions that could keep your family fed and hydrated for at least two weeks. One gallon of water per person daily is recommended. An adequate supply of non-perishable food should be kept in a cool, dry location. Don’t forget to plan for pets.

In addition to storing food and water, residents should also have an emergency supplies kit. Most kits include flashlights, batteries, first aid necessities, lighters, sleeping bags and medications.

“The first step is the hardest, but you can turn it into a fun family project that involves everyone,” said Linda Nellist, Humboldt Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) lead instructor. CERT is an all-volunteer coalition dedicated to training community team members and educating the public about emergency response.

“While you’re watching New Year’s Day football games, you and your family members can use a checklist to hunt for disaster supplies during commercial breaks and begin building that kit,” Nellist said.

“You’ll be incredibly surprised how easy it is to collect important items. You already have many of them; they’re just spread out around the house.”

For more information, check out where downloadable emergency preparation plans are available, as well as a full list of supply kit recommendations.