By Jennifer Astion

Living in Seattle I have often felt that disasters occurred somewhere else.  

However, when the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic on March 11 and a 5.7 magnitude earthquake rattled Salt Lake City on March 18, I quickly found the motivation I needed to focus on my own disaster preparedness.

I have been collecting bits and pieces of a disaster kit for years and our state’s self-isolation guidelines have given me the time to pull together what I have.

I hope these eight tips will help you assess your own household’s needs:

  1. Inventory what you already have. If you go camping, you probably have great basic items like a tent, emergency blankets and a propane stove. When I discovered my camping-stove was more than 20 years old, I realized it was time to purchase a simple Coleman burner and a couple of tanks of propane.
  2. First Aid Kit. You can buy on at the American Red Cross store or online or use the ARC’s Make a First Aid Kit guide.
  3. If your bedroom is upstairs, get a folding window ladder.
  4. If your home uses natural gas, learn how to safely turn off the gas. Puget Sound Energy has directions online. Keep a wrench dedicated to this task in a place where everyone in the household can find it.
  5. If you have pets, keep extra food, a kennel or carrier to keep them safe, and blankets to keep them warm.
  6. Get a transistor radio or crank radio to keep up to date if the power is out.
  7. Download free American Red Cross Apps on your phone – Emergency, First Aid, and Pet First Aid apps are great resources.
  8. Get several external battery chargers and keep them charged so you can use those Red Cross Apps if the power goes out!

The American Red Cross has an excellent and complete checklist to show you how to get a disaster kit, make a plan and be informed. Find this information and more at

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