Sanitation Supplies
Safety and Comfort
Tools and Supplies
Sources in the home
Sources out of the home
Purifying Water
Storing Water
Facts About Water
Things to Think About
Options to Consider
Options to Avoid
Purchasing Food
Storing Food
Emergency Cooking
Emergency Sanitation Supplies
Water Substitutes
Health Issues



Additional information on Disaster/Emergency Preparedness can be found at Marin County Sheriff's Office of Emergency Services and the California Emergency Management Agency. See also a list of Emergency Operations Websites by Event Type.


Stocking up now on emergency supplies can add to your safety and comfort during and after an emergency. Store enough supplies for at least 72 hours.


  • Water: 1 gallon per person per day(a week's supply of water is preferable)
  • Water purification kit
  • First aid kit, freshly stocked
  • First aid book
  • Food
  • Can opener (non-electric)
  • Blankets or sleeping bags
  • Portable radio, flashlight and spare batteries
  • Essential medication
  • Extra pair of eyeglasses
  • Extra pair of house and car keys
  • Fire extinguisher : A-B-C type
  • Food, water and restraint (leash or carrier) for pets
  • Cash and change
  • Baby supplies: formula, bottle, pacifier, soap and baby powder, clothing, blankets, baby wipes, disposable diapers, canned food and juices. See Tips for Preparing Children for more information.

Sanitation Supplies

  • Large plastic trash bags for waste, tarps and rain ponchos
  • Large trash cans
  • Bar soap and liquid detergent
  • Shampoo
  • Toothpaste and toothbrushes
  • Feminine hygiene supplies
  • Toilet paper
  • Household bleach

Safety and Comfort

  • Sturdy shoes
  • Heavy gloves for clearing debris
  • Candles and matches
  • Light sticks
  • Change of clothing
  • Knife or razor blades
  • Garden hose for siphoning and fire fighting
  • Tent
  • Toys for children
  • Communication kit: paper, pens, stamps


  • Plastic knives, forks, spoons
  • Paper plates and cups
  • Paper towels
  • Heavy-duty aluminum foil
  • Camping stove for outdoor cooking (caution: before using fire to cook, make sure there are no gas leaks; never use charcoal indoors)

Tools and Supplies

  • Axe, shovel, broom
  • Adjustable wrench for turning off gas
  • Tool kit including a screwdriver, pliers and a hammer
  • Coil of 1/2" rope
  • Plastic tape, staple gun and sheeting for window replacement
  • Bicycle
  • City map
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After a disaster, it is possible that water supplies will be temporarily cut off or become contaminated. Because you must have water to survive, it is important to know how to locate and purify drinking water to make it safe.

Water Sources
In the home:

  • Melt ice cubes.
  • Hot water tank: Turn off the power that heats it, and let the tank cool. Then
  • place a container underneath and open the drain valve at the bottom of the tank.
  • Don't turn the tank on again until water services are restored.
  • Toilet tank. The water in the tank (not the bowl) is safe to drink unless
  • chemical treatments have been added.
  • Water pipes. Release air pressure into the plumbing system by turning on the
  • highest faucet in the house. Then drain the water from the lowest faucet.

Water Sources
Outside the home.

  • Rain water, spring water, and water from streams, river,lakes, and coiled garden
  • hoses can be used after it is purified.

Purifying Water

Water can be purified by boiling or using chemicals. Any water that is obtained from sources outside the home or water that does not appear clear should be sterilized. Non-sterilized water may be contaminated.

  • FIRST, strain the water through a cloth or paper filter before beginning the purification process.
  • Boiling water is the preferred method of purification because disease-causing- microorganisms cannot survive the intense heat. Bring water to a rolling boil for 10 minutes. Pour the water back and forth from one clean container to another to improve the taste. Adding a pinch of salt could also help.
  • If boiling is not an option, the alternative is to treat the water chemically. Plain household chlorine bleach may be used. Be sure the label states that hypochlorite is the only active ingredient. Bleach containing soap or fragrances is not acceptable.

    With an eye dropper, add 8 drops of bleach per gallon of water (16 if the water is cloudy), stir and let stand.

    After 30 minutes the water should taste and smell of chlorine. At this time it can be used.

    If the taste and smell (and appearance in the case of cloudy water) has not changed at this point, add another dose and let stand. If after one half hour the water does not have a chlorine smell, do not use it.

Water Storage Containers

Store the water in a clean and sanitary glass or plastic container. Plastic containers are good because they are lightweight and unbreakable. Metal containers should be considered as a last resort because they may corrode and give water an unpleasant taste.

Water that local officials report has been contaminated with toxic chemicals or radioactive materials cannot be purified using home decontamination methods.

Facts About Water

Water is the single most abundant substance in the human body, making up to 60 percent of an adult's weight and up to 80 percent of an infant's weight. A person can live several days without food, but just a few days without water. It is second only to air in importance to life.

Because water is so important to human survival, never ration it. Drink at least 2 quarts per day, as long as supplies last, and look for alternative sources.

Store a 3-day supply of water for each family member. The needs of each person will differ depending upon age, physical condition, activity, diet, and climate. A normally active person needs to drink at least 2 quarts of water daily. Children, nursing mothers, and ill people need more. Additional water is necessary for food preparation and hygiene. At least 2 gallons per person per day should be stored.

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Things to Think About

  • What foods are nonperishable and do not need cooking and refrigeration?
  • What foods are easily prepared?
  • What foods are high in calories and protein that will help build energy?
  • What foods appeal to family members?
  • What foods are needed to meet the dietary needs of family members such as babies, toddlers, diabetics, and elderly people?

Food Options to Consider

  • Compressed food bars. They store well, are lightweight, taste good, and are nutritious and high in calories.
  • Trail mix. Blends of granola, nuts, seeds, and dried fruits are available prepackaged, or assemble your own.
  • Dried foods. Dried foods are nutritious and satisfying, but they have salt content, which promotes thirst.
  • Freeze-dried foods. Freeze-dried foods are tasty and lightweight but need water for reconstitution.
  • Instant meals. Instant meals such as cups of noodles or cups of soup are also a good addition to kits, although they too need water for reconstitution.
  • Snack-sized canned goods. Snack-sized canned goods are good because they generally have pull-top lids or twist-open keys.
  • Prepackaged beverages. Beverages packaged in foil packets and foil-lined boxes are suitable for a disaster supplies kits because they are tightly sealed and will keep for a long time.

Food Options to Avoid

  • Commercially dehydrated foods. Commercially dehydrated foods require a great deal of water for reconstitution and require extra effort in preparation. They also are inedible unless they are reconstituted.
  • Bottled foods. Bottled foods are too heavy and bulky and break easily.
  • Meal-sized commercially canned foods are also bulky and heavy.
  • Whole grains, beans, and pasta. Preparations of these foods could be complicated under the circumstance of a disaster.

Purchasing Foods

Most of the foods appropriate for a Disaster Supplies Kit are available at local supermarkets. Specialty food stores such as health food stores or food storage supply houses as well as sporting goods stores may have foods prepared especially for this purpose.

Food Storage Tips

  • Keep food in the driest and coolest spot in the house - a dark area if possible.
  • Keep food covered at all times.
  • Seal cookies and crackers in plastic bags and keep in tight containers.
  • Open food boxes and cans carefully so that they can be closed tightly after each use.
  • Store packages susceptible to pests, e.g., opened packages of sugar, dried fruits, and nuts in screw-top jars or airtight cans.
  • Store wheat, corn, and beans in sealed cans or sealed plastic buckets.
  • Buy powdered milk in nitrogen -packed cans for long term storage.
  • Keep salt and vitamins in their original packages.
  • Inspect all items periodically to make sure there are no broken seals or dented containers.

Emergency Cooking

In an emergency, food can be cooked using a fireplace, or a charcoal grill or camp stove, outdoors only. Food can also be heated with candle warmers, chafing dishes, and fondue pots. Canned foods can be heated and eaten directly out of the can. Completely remove the lid and label before heating the can to prevent internal combustion or the label catching fire.

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After a major disaster, if water and sewage lines have been disrupted you may need to improvise emergency sanitation facilities.

Emergency Sanitation Supplies

Always have basic sanitation supplies on hand.

  • Medium-sized plastic bucket with tight lid.
  • Plastic garbage bags and ties (heavy duty)
  • Household chlorine bleach
  • Soap, liquid detergent
  • Toilet paper
  • Towelettes

Water Substitutes

Water substitutes for cleansing.

  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Lotions containing alcohol
  • Shaving lotion
  • Face creams and lotions
  • Towelettes
  • Wet wash cloth - Use a wet wash cloth to clean teeth, wash face, comb hair, and wash body.
  • Makeshift shower - Use a spray bottle to shower.

Disinfectants. The best choice is a solution of 1 part liquid chlorine bleach to 10 parts water. Other commercial disinfectants include HTH, or calcium hypochlorite, which is available at swimming pool supply stores; portable chemical toilets, which are available through recreational vehicle supply stores; and powdered, chlorinated lime, which is available at building supply stores.

Health Issues

Keeping clean. Keeping clean is essential to good health. Because water is so precious and should be reserved for drinking purposes, consider other ways to wash the body.

Intestinal ailments. Consuming contaminated water and food can cause diarrhea, poisoning, and intestinal diseases. Take steps to protect against diseases.

Keep body, hands, and cooking and eating utensils clean.

  • Use proper plates or eat from the original food containers if water is not available for washing dishes.
  • Wash and peel all fruits and vegetables.
  • Keep all food in covered containers.
  • Prepare only as much as will be eaten at each meal.

Controlling rodents and insects.

  • Keep living area clear of debris, garbage, refuse, and body wastes.
  • When possible, repair holes to keep out rodents.
  • Household insecticides will work in small and enclosed areas.
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When preparing for an earthquake, plan on having enough supplies to get you and your family through at least the first 72 hours. After a major earthquake, there's a good chance that traditional emergency response teams will be too busy to take care of you and your family. You need to prepare your home and neighborhood.

Prepare a plan:

  • Stock up on at least a three-day supply of food and water, as well as other emergency supplies for everyone in your family. Make sure everyone knows where to find them.
  • Decide where and when to reunite your family.
  • Choose a person outside the immediate area to contact if family members are separated. Long distance phone service will probably be restored sooner than local service. Do not use the phone immediately after an earthquake.
  • Know the policies of the school or daycare center your children attend. Make plans to have someone pick them up if you are unable to get to them.
  • If you have a family member who does not speak English, prepare an emergency card written in English indicating that person's identification, address and any special needs such as medication allergies. Tell that person to keep the card with him/her at all times.
  • Conduct Duck, Cover & Hold drills every six months with your family.
  • Know the safest place in each room because it will be difficult to move from one room to another during a quake.
  • Locate the shutoff valves for water, gas and electricity. Learn how to shut off the valves before a quake. If you have any questions, call your utility company.
  • Establish all the possible ways to exit your house. Keep those areas clear.
  • Know the locations of the nearest fire and police stations.
  • Before a quake occurs, contact your local Marin County Sheriff's Office of Emergency Services -- via e-mail or call 499-6584 -- to find out about its plans for emergency shelters and temporary medical centers in case of such a disaster.
  • Make copies of vital records and keep them in a safe deposit box in another city or state. Make sure your originals are stored safely.
  • Take photos and/or videos of your valuables. Make copies and keep them in another city or state.
  • Include your babysitter and other household help in your plans.
  • Keep an extra pair of eyeglasses, house and car keys on hand.
  • Keep extra cash and change. If electricity is out, you will not be able to use an ATM.

General Tips

  • Stay away from heavy furniture, appliances, large glass panes, shelves holding objects, and large decorative masonry, brick or plaster such as fireplaces.
  • Keep your hallway clear. It is usually one of the safest places to be during an earthquake.
  • Stay away from kitchens and garages, which tend to be the most dangerous places because of the many items kept there.
  • Does your neighborhood have a local Disaster Council or Disaster Preparedness Group? If so, get involved with it. If not, get involved to start one. See Organizing Your Neighborhood for tips.
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A tsunami is a series of waves that may be dangerous and destructive. When you hear a tsunami warning, move at once to higher ground and stay there until local authorities say it is safe to return home.

For more information, check out the West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center.


  • Find out if your home is in a danger area. Know the height of your street above sea level and the distance of your street from the coast. Evacuation orders may be based on these numbers.
  • Be familiar with the tsunami warning signs. Because tsunamis can be caused by an underwater disturbance or an earthquake, people living along the coast should consider an earthquake or a sizable ground rumbling as a warning signal. A noticeable rapid rise or fall in coastal waters is also a sign that a tsunami is approaching.
  • Make evacuation plans. Pick an inland location that is elevated. After an earthquake or other natural disaster, roads in and out of the vicinity may be blocked, so pick more than one evacuation route.


  • Listen to a radio or television to get the latest emergency information, and be ready to evacuate if asked to do so. If you hear an official tsunami warning or detect signs of a tsunami, evacuate at once. Climb to higher ground. A tsunami warning is issued when authorities are certain that a tsunami threat exists.
  • Stay away from the beach. Never go down to the beach to watch a tsunami come in. If you can see the wave you are too close to escape it.
  • Return home only after authorities advise it is safe to do so. A tsunami is a series of waves. Do not assume that one wave means that the danger over. The next wave may be larger than the first one. Stay out of the area.


  • Stay tuned to a battery-operated radio for the latest emergency information.
  • Help injured or trapped persons.
  • Give first aid where appropriate. Do not move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of further injury. Call for help.
  • Remember to help your neighbors who may require special assistance--infants, elderly people, and people with disabilities.
  • Stay out of damaged buildings. Return home only when authorities say it is safe.
  • Enter your home with caution.
  • Open windows and doors to help dry the building.
  • Shovel mud while it is still moist to give walls and floors an opportunity to dry.
  • Check food supplies and test drinking water. Fresh food that has come in contact with flood waters may be contaminated and should be thrown out. Have tap water tested by the local health department.
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