National Preparedness Month week 3 – low-cost, no-cost preparedness

Release date: 09/15/2021
Sponsored by: County Emergency Management Department, County Emergency Management Division

National Preparedness Month week 3 - low-cost, no-cost preparedness


Being prepared for emergencies isn’t just about having the stuff. It’s also about making sure you and your family are on the same page on how to respond, practicing your plans so everyone knows what to do and making sure you minimize risks wherever you can. The best part is, there are several low and no cost activities you and your family can do to get better prepared.

One important preparedness activity is meeting your neighbors. In today’s world, it can be difficult and awkward to knock on someone’s door and introduce yourself, but you will be extremely grateful you did during an emergency. Responding to an emergency as a community is easier than doing it alone because you can share supplies, split work that needs to be done and fight loneliness.

Knowing your neighbors is beneficial when preparing and responding to emergencies for several reasons:

  • You can combine emergency supplies, tools and duties (like cooking, child/pet care, debris moving, etc.) between a lot of people.
  • If something happens to a set of parents or pet owners, the children and animals will be more likely to go to and trust neighborhoods that they know and have met before.
  • Preparing for an emergency as a group makes the idea of a large earthquake or other natural disaster less intimidating.

If you’re interested in getting to know your neighbors, here are some easy ways to make that happen:

  • Start a Facebook group for your neighborhood
  • Host a potluck dinner
  • Learn about the makeup of your neighbor’s family. What is everyone’s name? What do they do for a living?

Not very social or want to focus on other aspects of emergency preparedness? Don’t worry! There are a lot of low and no cost activities to help prepare your home and family for an emergency. Check out the list below to find out what interests you!

Activity: Pick five low or no cost activities and complete them this week:

            No cost preparedness activities:

  • Follow response agencies like Washington County, your city, your fire department, and the National Weather Service on social media. They will help keep you alerted and informed before and during emergencies.
  • Talk to your family and make plans. Having a plan for quickly evacuating your home and meeting up with your family somewhere in town if you get separated is a great way to be prepared.
  • Watch preparedness videos. Some videos can teach you how to act when the ground is shaking, what the warning signs are for a tsunami or landslide, or how to talk to your kids about emergencies. These videos can help you feel more comfortable and knowledgeable about the hazards in your area and how to respond.
  • Make copies or take pictures of your important financial, personal and property documents and store them on your phone, in the cloud or in a plastic bag in your emergency kit.
  • Download and fill out a family emergency communication plan card. When you're done, keep the card in your wallet or purse to reference in case your phone dies.
  • Print out a map and highlight at least two alternate routes to work, school, day care and home. Keep it in your car's glove box to reference.
  • Move your household chemicals to lower shelves so they don't break or spill from falling off the shelf in an earthquake. Don’t store household chemicals beyond their expiration date or after they're no longer needed. Contact Metro Recycling Hotline (503-234-3000) to find out when the next household hazardous waste pickup event will be held in your area.
  • Test your smoke alarms and practice your fire escape plan with your family.
  • Conduct earthquake drills with your family. If the children are young, make a game out of shaking the couch before going to Drop, Cover and Hold On.
  • Fill out a Medical Emergency Card (history, medications, contact info) for each member in your family. Store the documents in your emergency kit for reference.
  • Remove all dead and dying weeds, plants and fallen leaves from around your house. Check the roof, gutters, decks, porches and stairways as well. Removing these items will reduce the amount of burnable material around your home so these items can’t catch fire and spread the fire to your home.
  • Talk with your doctor about how to make sure you have enough of your critical medication to store in your emergency kit.
  • Sign up for a CERT team! CERT is the Community Emergency Response Team. Through the program, you learn how to conduct basic first aid, fire suppression, triage injuries, search and rescue and disaster psychology.
  • Pick two of your family’s favorite meals and figure out how you’d cook them with canned and non-perishable items.

            Low cost preparedness activities:

The Dollar Store, Winco, and Goodwill are great places to visit when looking for preparedness items on a budget. If you are just starting your preparedness journey, remember it doesn’t have to all get done at once. You can take months or years to become fully prepared. Pick a timeframe and budget that works with your lifestyle. The important part is to just keep going!

  • $5-$10
    • Buy furniture straps to secure large pieces of furniture to the wall. This will help them stay upright during an earthquake. A pack of straps for one item is about $10.
    • Make your own first aid kit! Making your own can provide you with more supplies than a pre-made kit. To make you own, buy a box or two of different sized band aids, antibiotic cream, hand sanitizer, pain reliever, nonlatex gloves, tweezers and absorbent compress dressings. All of these items are available at the Dollar Store! If able, make one for your house and your car.
    • Buy an extra package of pre-filled water bottles during your next grocery trip. A 24 pack of 16 ounce bottles provides 3 gallons of water for $2-$5.
    • Bring $5 or $10 to the dollar store and pick up as many preparedness related items as you can.
  • Under $20
    • Buy a water heater restraining strap to increase the likelihood that you will be able to access and use the water in your heater after an earthquake. A metal strap costs about $18.
    • Buy a refillable 5-7 gallon water container. You can sanitize and store water from your tap in the containers. One container can range from $7-$15.
    • Invest in a portable water filter. Some filters come as part of a bottle; others are standalone straws. These can be found online for $15-$20. Beware though, these can quickly get costly, ranging up to $75.

Media Contact:

Alita Fitz, Emergency Management Coordinator