New Year’s Resolution: Be Ready

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We all make resolutions for the New Year, lose weight, read more, learn a new skill. Well this year why not make one of your resolutions to be ready? 2011 was full of devastating emergencies, from the Mississippi River flooding to the more than 343 tornados that tore through the Southeast. Just a few simple steps can ensure that you’re ready for anything. To help you be more prepared in 2012, we’ll be posting 31 days of preparedness. Follow our blog and Twitter feed (@CDCReady) for a tip each day.

Day 1

Tip: Make an emergency kit for your second home…aka your car

Your house isn’t the only thing that should be well stocked; your car should also include some important essentials. You can easily put together items you already have in your house to make an emergency kit for your ride. Include things like:

  • Blanket
  • Flashlight
  • Batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Granola bars

Store your items in a bag in the trunk so they are secure and out of the way until you need them. You can make your kit more complete by stopping by an auto supply store and picking up road flares and jumper cables. Click here for useful tips on getting your car prepared, especially during the colder months.

gas tank gauge showing half fullDay 2

Tip: Always keep your gas tank atleast 1/2 full

Waiting until the last minute might be a hard habit to break, but if you’re ever stranded or have to evacuate you’ll be happy you followed this tip.

Day 3

Tip: Learn how to change a tire

Damsels in distress make great fairy tales, but in the real world it’s better to know how to get yourself out of a tight spot. Everyone should know how to change a tire, even if you’ve got roadside assistance there may be times when this isn’t an option. Review your owners manual and try a test run at your house when there’s no pressure.

Day 4

Tip: Review or establish an evacuation plan from your house.

If there was a fire, would you know how to get out? Sit down with your family and go over each exit route in the house and how you would get out if there were a fire or other emergency. Sketch a floor plan of your home, walk through each room and discuss evacuation details with your family.

Day 5

Tip: Put together a first aid kit for your home

This is something you’ll use all year, whether it’s for a scrapped knee or something more serious. Here are some items that should be in everyone’s first aid kit. If you or a family member have special needs make sure to consider these when putting your kit together.

  • Bandages
  • Alcohol swabs
  • Tweezers
  • Thermometer
  • Instant cold compress
  • Gauze Pads
  • Aspirin
  • First Aid instruction booklet
  • Blanket
  • Non-latex gloves

Man lifting a case of bottled waterDay 6

Tip: Stock up on water

Water is an essential for life. And not only do you need it to live, but think of all the other times during the day you use water. If your pipes burst or freeze or flood water contaminates the treatment plant, you’ll need to have supplies on hand. Make sure you store a gallon of water for three days for each member of your family, including your pet.

Day 7

Tip: Stock up on food

Floods, snow, severe storms, and any number of other natural disasters can limit your access to the grocery store. Make sure you always have additional food in your house. You don’t need to have gourmet meals on hand, just basic non-perishable foods that can last each person in your house for three days. Keep a manual can opener in hand, but avoid canned goods that are dented or swollen.

Day 8

Tip: Copy important papers

You should have copies of all your important papers, birth certificates, passports, deeds, etc. Keep them in a fire proof box in a designated area in the house. While you’re at it, make an electronic copy and email it to yourself. If something happens such as an earthquake, fire, or flood you’ll be glad you’ve got copies of the originals.  Also if the family dog decides a passport looks like a tasty snack you won’t be completely lost!

Day 9

Tip: Write down important phone numbersperson dialing on a cell phone

This includes the fire and police departments, poison control, but also your family practitioner, a trusted neighbor, and an out of town friend or relative. Put a copy of this list in your emergency kit and post another copy on your fridge.   You could also go ahead and program them into your cell phone so if you’re away from your house you can still access the list. In an emergency, it’s often easier to reach someone outside of the affected area (your out of town friend/relative) because the lines can be jammed where you are.  Letting this person know your location can help you and your loved ones avoid the stress of knowing whether or not you’re safe.

Day 10

Tip: Make a list of your prescriptions

During Hurricane Katrina many people who went to evacuation shelters needed medication, but could not recall what their prescriptions were. Write down a list of all the medicines you take, doses, and any allergies so that you can take it with you in an emergency. Keep this list with your other important documents. There are even apps out there now that allow you to put this information on your phone so it’s always with you.

Day 11

Tip: Check your flashlights and radios

Double check that all the gadgets you have in your emergency kit still work. Replace any batteries or devices that have passed their prime.  You don’t want to find out your flashlight no longer works when the power goes out. (If you don’t have these items…stock up!)

Day 12

Tip: Check your smoke detectors

This should be something you do every month. It seems like a lot, but all you have to do is press the test button on your detector and check that the device beeps or sounds loudly to see if it’s working.  You should replace your smoke detector’s batteries at least once a year, even if you don’t think they need to be replaced.  If you don’t think you’re going to remember next year, do this on a date that’s special to you, like your birthday or a holiday you know you’ll be at home for.

Day 13

Tip: Identify a meeting place outside of your home

Certain emergencies, like fires, require that you evacuate your house. Make sure you and your family have a safe place to meet outside of your home like a neighbor’s driveway. Be sure everyone is clear on where they should go and do a test run (you can also practice the evacuation plan you created on day 4).

Day 14

Tip: Find out what emergencies are likely where you live

If you live in Oklahoma you probably don’t have to worry much about hurricanes, but tornadoes are a regular occurrence. Take time to learn what disasters are likely in your area and make sure you know how you should respond. Click on the US map here to see what type of disasters occured in 2011.

Day 15

Tip: Identify an area in your home to shelter in place

During an earthquake, tornado, or severe storm you will need to shelter in place. Find a secure area in your home where you and your family can go.  Choose a room in advance for your shelter. The best room is one with as few windows and doors, like a basement. A big room, preferably with a water source, is also a good choice—such as bedroom that is attached to a bathroom. 

Day 16

Tip: Test your emergency plan with your family

Review where everyone should go if they need to shelter in place, leave the house, or evacuate your town. Also go over where important documents and phone numbers are and who each family person should call to check in.

Day 17

Tip: Stock up on batteries

You should always have an extra supply of batteries for your flashlights, radio, and other gadgets. Make a list of the different kinds of batteries your devices require and stock up the next time you go to the grocery store.

Day 18

Tip: Create an emergency kit for work

You never know when a disaster might happen, and since you spend most of your day at your workplace, it makes sense to also have an emergency kit there too. You should include food and water along with first aid supplies, and a copy of your medicines and a list of phone numbers. If nothing else, you’ll have some extra snacks for when the boss asks you to work late!

exit signDay 19

Tip: Review your workplace evacuation plan.

Every office should have an evacuation plan in case of fire or other emergency. Make sure you know where all the exits are and where you and your coworkers are supposed to meet once outside.


Day 20

Tip: Notify co-workers of medical conditions

Do you have asthma? Diabetes? Allergic to shellfish or certain medicines? These are all things your co-workers should know about in case something happened to you while at work. Find a co-worker you’re friends with and make sure they are aware of any medical conditions. Also keep a list of any allergies or other conditions posted in your office or cubicle.

Day 21

Tip: Learn what the different weather warnings mean

Do you know the difference between a tornado warning and a tornado watch? Brush up on what the different warnings mean here

Day 22

Tip: Review our tips on what to do after an emergency

Knowing what to do after a disaster is just as important as being prepared before it happens. There are certain things you should know following a flood, hurricane, tornado or other disaster. Check out our tips here.

Day 23

Tip: Learn how to safely use a generator

After many emergencies, people are left without power and rely on generators to supply electricity. Unfortunately, improper use of generators has led to tens of thousands of ER visits with confirmed carbon monoxide poisoning every year. If you have a generator, make sure you know how to use it properly:

  • Follow manufacturers’ directions for installation and operation.
  • To prevent electric shock, make sure your generator is properly grounded. The operation manual should provide correct grounding procedures.
  • Use electric generators or other fuel-powered machines outside where deadly carbon monoxide fumes cannot enter the house.
  • Use the generator only in a well-ventilated and dry area located away from air intakes to the house. Do not use a generator in an attached garage.

Day 24

Tip: Find out where your local Red Cross shelters are

Following a disaster, these shelters help those displaced by providing meals and snacks to families and to emergency workers in affected areas.  Red Cross nurses provide first aid and look after other health-related matters. Enter your zip code here to find your local Red Cross; you can search for open Red Cross shelters here.

Day 25

Tip: Don’t forget about your pets

What would your pet do during an emergency? Do you have food and water for them included in your emergency kit? Do you know what you would do if they couldn’t come with you to an evacuation shelter? Make sure you review your emergency plan and kit to include your pets.  Here are some items to include:

  • Food and water for at least three days for each pet, food and water bowls and a manual can opener
  • Depending on the pet, litter and litter box or newspapers, paper towels, plastic trash bags, grooming items, and household bleach
  • Medications and medical records for pet, first aid kit and a pet first aid book
  • Sturdy leashes to transport pets safely and to ensure that your pets cannot escape.
  • A carrier
  • Pet toys and the pet’s bed, if you can easily take it, to decrease stress

For more info click here.

Day 26

Tip: Make a bug out bag

A bug out bag is a small emergency kit that you can grab when you need to get out fast. Include food, water, first aid, and a copy of important phone numbers, prescriptions, and documents. It’s also good to include a change of clothes and some spare cash. You can store this in your house or car if you’re on the go a lot.

Day 27

Tip: Learn CPR

CPR saves lives. Statistics show that the earlier CPR is started, the better the chances of survival. In fact, 100,000 to 200,000 lives could be saved each year if CPR was performed early enough.

Day 28 

Tip:  Wash hands often

Did you know that the very simple act of frequent hand washing has the ability to save more lives than any single vaccine or medical intervention?  Prevent foodborne illness, spread of disease, and outbreaks by simply washing hands often.  If clean, running water is not accessible during emergencies, use soap and available water.

More information:

Day 29

Tip:  Keep sanitation supplies in emergency kit

When soap and water are unavailable, sanitation concerns become an issue.  Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol to clean hands.  Have things like Purell, alcohol swabs, and hydrogen peroxide available in your emergency kit.

Day 30

Tip: Keep sleeping bags near your emergency kit at home

Keep sleeping bags and blankets readily available in case you have to take shelter for an extended period or if evacuation is necessary.

Day 31

Tip: Congratulations! If you followed each of our tips ,you should be ready before and after a disaster. Spread the word and make sure your friends and neighbors are also prepared. When disasters happen, the response starts with you, be ready for anything!

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11 comments on “New Year’s Resolution: Be Ready”

Comments listed below are posted by individuals not associated with CDC, unless otherwise stated. These comments do not represent the official views of CDC, and CDC does not guarantee that any information posted by individuals on this site is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. Read more about our comment policy ».

    Thank you so much! Appreciate all the wonderful information – extremely valuable!

    Great information…the further we get from flooding, earthquake, tornado, etc… issues – we quickly forget to keep our emergency supplies updated. Thanks so much for this reminder!!

    These are useful, simple tips for everyone! I hope to adapt many tips for the health department’s Facebook and other ways that we communicate with audiences.

    This really makes me feel ill-prepared. Thank you for the tips and I will surely start preparing for my family.

    I would also add be sure to charge your cell phone every day. We had a storm and lost power for 17 hours. We were praying that the phone batteries would not die before the power came back on.

    I just want to add that big room, preferably with a water source, is also a good choice. Such a very good tips! This is also what I advocate.

    @Janet Gieseke: Very good point and thanks, glad you found our reminders helpful!

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Page last reviewed: February 2, 2012
Page last updated: February 2, 2012