12 Things You Can Do Today to Prepare for the Next Emergency

September is National Preparedness Month, held each year to promote family and community disaster planning. In 2020, the month comes during a tough time for our region. While we are still actively addressing the coronavirus pandemic, residents in Oregon – and all along the West Coast – are now dealing with devastating wildfires.  

If you’d like to support community members impacted by these wildfires, the Red Cross is a great place to start. County and state leaders are also posting up-to-date information on PublicAlerts.org

For some, these emergencies serve as an immediate reminder to prepare your family’s emergency plan. Organizations like Ready.gov, the American Red Cross and Oregon Health Authority have great resources and tips for creating an emergency plan and building your home emergency kits.  

If that feels too daunting right now, even small steps can make a big difference. We asked some of our emergency response experts at the Port of Portland to share what you can do today that will have a big impact immediately. Here are some of their recommendations.

Emergency Preparedness Tips:

1. Put old tennis shoes and a flashlight under your bed, as there could be glass or other debris on the floor if disaster strikes in the evening.

2. Print a family photo and keep it in a bag with other important documents. That way, if your family gets separated and your cell phone is dead, you’ll have a photo to show first responders. 

3. Make sure you regularly change out the set of extra clothes in your emergency kit so they are season-appropriate. A pair of shorts in the winter won’t be too helpful. 

4. Water is essential. Make sure you have enough water for at least 72 hours: 1 gallon per person/pet per day for hydration and hygiene. 

5. You could be without power and water for a while. Add some body wipes to your emergency kit since you won’t be able to shower. 

6. During an emergency, local phone lines might be down. Have a conversation with your family about which out-of-state friend/family member you’d call in an emergency. 

7. Don’t forget about your pets! Add food, water, medicine, bedding and toys to help keep your pets safe and entertained in an emergency. 

8. Emergencies can be scary, especially for little ones. Don’t forget about comfort items such as games, crayons, writing materials and teddy bears to keep children calm. 

9. While most people remember batteries for their emergency kit to power flashlights or radios, don’t forget to include a battery charger for your cellphone. 

10. Experts recommend that you have enough food for at least 3 days. Make sure that is something your family enjoys. A peanut butter + dark chocolate street taco may be just what your family needs during a stressful moment. 

11. On the topic of food, don’t forget to include a can opener if you have canned goods in your emergency kit. There’s no point in storing canned food if you can’t open it.  

12. Banks and ATMs could be down, so have some emergency cash on hand. Focus on smaller bills for necessities, as some stores may not be able to provide change. 


There is only so much we can control in an emergency. We are fortunate to have many great first-responders in the region who are working on the frontlines of the wildfires to protect our homes, while others are flying in to lend a hand. Please join us in thanking all the firefighters and emergency responders who are working hard to keep us safe right now.