Emergency Preparedness During COVID-19 & Beyond


Emergency Preparedness during COVID-19 and Beyond: Polk County CERT | OregonDuring the current outbreak of COVID-19 we are seeing the best in many people and we’re also seeing the worst in a few others. There was a certain amount of panic and disbelief as this national emergency developed. Most of us, who maintain emergency preparedness, found ourselves largely ready to handle self-quarantine. This disaster afforded us the opportunity to bolster our supplies and to keep shopping for daily staple foods, medications, etc. The next disaster may not provide that same opportunity. It is quite possible we will be cut off from this food and medications.

The entire State of Oregon is currently (at the time of this article) under orders to self-quarantine and practice social distancing during those times we are allowed to be in public places. Many of us find ourselves with extra time on our hands during the quarantine. Hopefully, we are all taking the time to appreciate and enjoy family and loved ones. Perhaps you are taking the time to do online education or training courses. Personally, I ordered a ukulele from Amazon that I’m learning to play. This is also a perfect opportunity to evaluate our actual state of emergency preparedness and become better prepared for the next one. There will be a next one. The question is when and what type of disaster. Keep reading for some practical tips on bolstering your emergency preparedness for the next time.

CERT training teaches us that being prepared reduces the fear and panic that accompanies any disaster. Though we spend a fair amount of time thinking about potential disasters, we are optimists. We believe we can survive (possibly thrive) during disaster situations. Taking steps before a disaster strikes helps us minimize their impact on our lives and greatly increases our opportunities for survival. Emergency preparedness reduces the likelihood that we will require the assistance of first responders who might not be able to even get to us. We have learned from recent disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina, that state and federal assistance may take days or even weeks to reach us. Rebuilding infrastructure could take months or years.

Here are some suggestions to make productive use of the extra time some of us find we have during self-quarantine. What we do now could make your life easier during the next disaster or it could even save your life.


How Prepared Were You for the COVID-19 Quarantine?Take an honest look at your state of preparedness for the COVID-19 pandemic and self-quarantine. Did you find yourself scrambling for supplies? Most of us probably bolstered our supplies – because we could. Next time we may not have that opportunity. How were you stocked on food, medications, sanitizing supplies? While it’s fresh in your mind, this would be a good time to play the what-if game. What if I wasn’t able to go to get more supplies. What if the roads were impassable for a period of time? What can I do to be better prepared in the future?


Here is a shameless plug of our free PDF  ‘A Guide for Improving the Resiliency of Individuals and Families in Our Community.’ This guide focuses on preparing for disasters in Polk County, Oregon. It includes information to prepare a “grab and go” bag. You will also find steps to prepare your evacuation list. It even includes preparation for family pets. The guide provides detailed checklists for preparing your emergency preparedness kit, personal items, food supplies and vehicle supplies. There is a weekly shopping list to help guide you to a minimum of 3 months of food supplies.  If you ever felt confused about where to start and would appreciate a simplified roadmap for your own emergency preparedness planning, this is it!


Read your emergency preparedness books if you have some sitting on the bookshelves. If not, perhaps consider ordering some. The internet has many great sources of information. Go in search of information from qualified sources via search engine queries, YouTube videos, Kindle books, etc. There is a wealth of information available so take a look and see what works for you.

The following are some of my favorite preparedness books. This is not an official CERT endorsement and is by no means considered a complete collection. There are lots of other survival and emergency preparedness books with great information on just about any topic you can think of. These books from my personal collection are listed in no particular order.

  • Handbook to Practical Disaster Preparedness for the Family
    by Arthur Bradley, Ph.D.Emergency preparedness books
  • The Survival Medicine Handbook by Joseph Alton, M.D. and Amy Alton, A.R.N.P.
  • Prepper’s Survival Hacks by Jim Cobb
  • SHTF Prepping by Kevin Moore
  • Pacific Northwest Foraging by Douglas Deur
  • Food Storage for Self-Sufficiency and Survival by Angela Paskett
  • Prepping for a Pandemic by Cat Ellis
  • Preppers Communication Handbook by Jim Cobb
  • The Oregon Earthquake Handbook by Vern Cope
  • The Family Emergency Handbook by Playmore and Waldman
  • The Prepper’s Water Survival Guide by Daisy Luther
  • Edible Wild Plants by John Kallas
  • The Big One (Cascadia Subduction Zone Earthquake) by Vernelle J. Judy
  • Preppers Instruction Manual by Arthur Bradley, Ph.D.
  • Prepper’s Long-Term Survival by Jim Cobb
  • CERT Basic Handbook – don’t forget you already have a great source of information if you have taken the CERT Basic Course.


FEMA Independent Study Courses Online

This is a great time to take online courses from FEMA. These independent (IS) study courses are primarily taken by emergency first responders, CERT members, etc., however, anyone can register for a FEMA Student Identification (SID) and take courses. See the listing of over 200 FEMA IS courses. Follow the link on that page to obtain your SID and you are ready to begin your studies.

Here is a small sampling of the FEMA individual study courses

IS-10.a  Animals in Disasters: Awareness and Preparedness
IS-100.c Introduction to the Incident Command System
IS-101.c Preparing for Federal Disaster Operations: FEMA
IS-102.c Preparing for Federal Disaster Operations: FEMA Response Partners
IS-111.a Livestock in Disasters
IS-200.c Basic Incident Command System for Initial Response
IS-230.d Fundamentals of Emergency Management
IS-235.c Emergency Planning
IS-240.b Leadership and Influence
IS-241.b Decision Making and Problem Solving
IS-242.b Effective Communication
IS-244.b Developing and Managing Volunteers
IS-317 Introduction to Community Emergency Response Teams
IS-325 Earthquake Basics: Science, Risk, and Mitigation
IS-326 Community Tsunami Preparedness
IS-362.a Multi-Hazard Emergency Planning for Schools
IS-363 Introduction to Emergency Management for Higher Education
IS-366.a Planning for the Needs of Children in Disasters
IS-394.a Protecting Your Home or Small Business From Disaster
IS-906 Workplace Security Awareness
IS-907 Active Shooter: What You Can Do
IS-909 Community Preparedness: Implementing Simple Activities for Everyone


You may want to go through your emergency supplies to make sure everything is where you expect it to be. Have the kids raided your battery supply? That happens to me all the time! Have you used some of your first aid supplies? Locate your emergency supplies and take an inventory to determine if anything needs to be replaced or replenished. Are your supplies stored in a safe location that is safe and easily accessible in an emergency? Once you have taken stock of your emergency supplies, perhaps you can find additional information online. Even the best prepared among us realize that there is always more to do to be truly prepared.

Here are a few YouTube videos to get you started. If you see something you like you can subscribe to their channel or view other videos they have created.

Do -It -Yourself: Building an Emergency Supply Kit



You may find yourself with extra time during self-quarantine. If you’re looking for a productive way to spend your time, might I suggest learning and practicing new survival and self-sufficiency skills. A great example is gardening, home canning, pickling, smoke curing, dehydrating or freeze-drying food. By the way, how are your knot tying skills?

Here are a few more YouTube videos to give you ideas.

Top 15 Forever Foods for Survival


Remember that some disasters are likely to disrupt electricity and other utilities including telephone services. Think ahead to determine what your needs would be in a worst-case scenario and then do your best to prepare. No plan will be 100% perfect in every situation but having no plan will set you up for failure every time. The good news is that emergency preparedness resources are all around us. Be vigilant. Be prepared and stay safe!

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