Welcome to the iPrepare Emergency Preparedness Blog
Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A quick earthquake preparedness checklist to include in your emergency preparedness plan. Print a copy of this list for quick access, and include this list with your emergency kits.

  • Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation. Consider storing more water for extended periods of time if possible.
  • Food - at least a three to nine day supply of non-perishable food and a portable stove.
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Can opener for food (if kit contains canned foods)
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone and chargers
  • Prescriptions medications and glasses
  • Infant formula and diapers
  • Pet food and water for your pet
  • Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification, and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container
  • Cash or traveler's checks and change
  • Emergency reference material, such as a first aid book
  • Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person; consider additional bedding if you live in a cold-weather climate and rain gear.
  • Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper, When diluted nine parts water to one part bleach, bleach can be used as a disinfectant. Or in an emergency, you can use it to treat water by using 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Candles
  • Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
  • Mess kits, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils, paper towels
  • Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children


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Thursday, September 17, 2009

At 10:15 a.m. on October 15, 2009, millions of Californians will participate in the largest earthquake drill ever! The purpose of the ShakeOut is to practice how to protect ourselves during earthquakes, and to get prepared at work, school, and home.

We all must get better prepared for major earthquakes, and also practice how to protect ourselves when they happen. While the potential earthquake hazards you will experience depend upon your location, everywhere in California is considered at high risk compared to the rest of the country. Visit the Great California ShakeOut to read more and to register.

From an Inland Empire News article:

“September is National Preparedness Month and is a time for individuals and families to prepare for all potential hazards, including earthquakes. In California, Preparedness Month will be followed with an earthquake drill in October to test our readiness–it’s called the Great California ShakeOut,” added Matthew Bettenhausen, California Emergency Management Agency Acting Secretary.“ So act now to secure contents in your home or office so they won’t fall, organize your emergency supplies, and update your family emergency plan. Then on October 15 practice Drop, Cover and Hold On.”Drop, Cover and Hold On is the recommended procedure in an earthquake. People should quickly get under a heavy table or desk to avoid being hit by falling objects–or get on the ground next to an interior wall and cover your head and neck with your arms. People can learn what to do, no matter where they are when the earthquake strikes, at Regional information, such as details about earthquake hazards, lists of participants, and much more can be accessed using a clickable California map on

All areas of California have experienced earthquakes in the past and there are hundreds of faults throughout the state that can have large earthquakes. A 2008 report ( estimates that there is a 50% chance of a magnitude 7.5 or greater earthquake somewhere in California anytime in the next 30 years. While some areas are less likely than others to have such earthquakes, residents in those areas may visit more active areas. So everyone should know what to do during strong shaking.


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Saturday, September 12, 2009
READYColorado offers a great resource: “Top 10 List For Preparedness On A Budget”. Here are a few of the tips they offer:

Plan for the types of disasters that can happen in the area where you live. You may need to plan for a snowstorm instead of a hurricane.

Budget emergency preparedness items as a “normal” expense. Even $20.00 a month can go a long way to helping you be ready. Buy one preparedness item each time you go to the grocery store.

Request preparedness items as gifts. We all receive gifts we don’t need or use. What if your friends and family members gave you gifts that could save your life? Don’t forget to protect them by sending preparedness gifts their way, too.

Trade one night out to fund your 72-hour kit. Taking a family of four to the movies can cost upwards of $80-$100. Just one night of sacrifice could fund a 72-hour ready kit.

Visit their site for a complete listing.


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Tuesday, September 8, 2009
The Department of Homeland Security has tapped Salt Lake City as one of 62 urban areas facing the highest risk for a natural or man-made disaster.

The Deseret News reports that Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker and emergency management director Cory Lyman urged Utahns to prepare in case the "Big One" ever hits the Wasatch Front. Their comments were given as part of a kick-off for National Preparedness Month in September.

"The threat is real here," Lyman said, urging residents to take steps to protect themselves and their families against the problems caused by a major earthquake. Prepare evacuation and communication plans, he said. Have a 72-hour kit filled with food, water, medication, clothing, vital records and other supplies that is easily accessible. Keep your car's gas tank full, and keep a "go kit" in the car.

Mitigate hazards inside your home by keeping heavy objects on lower shelves and securing bookcases, Lyman added. Keep vital records in a safe deposit box, and complete an inventory of your property and insurance, making sure property is covered for specific hazards.

Read the entire article at the Deseret News website.


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Thursday, September 3, 2009
US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano today joined with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate and the Ad Council to launch a new series of Ready Campaign public service advertisements (PSAs) designed to encourage all Americans to take steps to prepare for emergencies, kicking off September's National Preparedness Month.

"Preparedness is a shared responsibility that begins with the American people," said Secretary Napolitano. "These public service advertisements highlight the simple steps everyone can take to prepare for disasters, enhancing the safety and security of our country."

Below is one of the Ads from the AdCouncil's Youtube site:

Produced pro bono by advertising agency Cramer-Krasselt in conjunction with the Ad Council, the new Ready PSAs—produced for television, radio, print, outdoor and the Web—direct audiences to visit to find national and local preparedness information and resources.

The Ready Campaign encourages Americans to take three simple steps to prepare for emergencies: (1) Put together an emergency supply kit; (2) Make a family emergency plan; and (3) Get informed about the types of emergencies that could take place in their communities and appropriate responses.

In addition to the national Ready PSAs launched today, New York City's new public service campaign— Ready New York —was also announced to encourage all New Yorkers to prepare for emergencies. The national Ready ads have also been localized for a number of other cities, including Austin, Texas, Atlanta, Chicago, Eugene, Ore., Houston, Kansas City, Mo., Los Angeles, and San Francisco—as well as the states of Utah and Virginia and the U.S. Navy and U.S. Virgin Islands.

Initiated in 2003, the Ready Campaign is a national public service advertising campaign designed to educate and empower Americans to prepare for and respond to all emergencies in order to raise the level of basic preparedness across the nation. In addition to outreach via traditional media, Ready also provides a series of social media tools to help Americans prepare for emergencies, including a downloadable family emergency plan, an interactive widget that provides users with updates on emergency situations, emergency kit checklists, and preparedness guidelines. To view the PSAs and for more information on the Ready Campaign, visit or follow "ReadydotGov" on Twitter.


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Wednesday, September 2, 2009
People with disabilities have special needs in case of emergency. If you (or someone you know) have a disability or a mobility problem, you should take a look at these resources and tips. has an article entitled, Family Disaster Plans - For People with Disabilities. It includes many tips - including how to prepare your service animals, and things to consider with your wheelchair.

Also, the U.S. government has revamped its Web site on disabilities, and it now includes a section on emergency preparedness. Click here to take a look.


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Monday, August 31, 2009

This September 2009, the sixth annual National Preparedness Month will focus on changing perceptions about what real emergency preparedness is and helping Americans to be truly Ready.

The Department of Homeland Security through its public service campaign will launch a massive effort throughout the month to heighten awareness of the importance of being prepared for emergencies. They will focus on changing perceptions about emergency preparedness and will help Americans understand what it truly means to be Ready. will illustrate how preparedness goes beyond fire alarms, smoke detectors, dead-bolt locks and extra food in the pantry and help you communicate important preparedness messages to your family, your business and your community with a new series of customizable materials.

iPrepare hopes to be a key player in promoting and supporting this important national effort.

During National Preparedness Month, iPrepare urges everyone to take the time to ready themselves and their loved ones by creating an emergency plan, and gathering proper supplies to ready your family and home in case of emergency.

Follow iPrepare during National Prepardness Month on twitter @iPrepare, on facebook at iPrepare or read the iPrepare blog at

Also, keep an eye on the website:


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Wednesday, August 19, 2009
We just launched a brand-new feature at It is our Preparedness and Safety Events Directory. Now, we are just starting, so we don't have much information in the directory yet - but that's where you come in :) We are counting on our customers, visitors and fans to input information about events in their area. This way you can promote your event (for FREE) and also see what other events might be going on in your area.

To view the list of events, please visit

And if you would like to add an event to the directory, please visit

The directory will highlight Upcoming events that will be held within the next 4 months. So if you enter an item and don't see it appear on the listing, please be patient - it will appear once we are within 4 months of the start date.

We are excited about this new feature and hope you are able to benefit from it!


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Sunday, August 16, 2009
We are pleased to announce the new iPrepare Facebook page! We're excited about this opportunity to be able to connect with our friends, customers and fans in a new way. Along with our Twitter updates and our Blog posts, we'll be sharing a lot of information, including:
  • Preparedness tips and information
  • Important links to relevant and emerging emergency preparedness topics
  • Company news, pictures & events
  • Preparedness events
  • Special Offers & Promotions
We invite you to become a fan, and become a member of our preparedness community!


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The CDC has recently changed their recommendations for the amount of time persons with influenza-like illness should be away from others. The CDC now recommends that people with flu-like illness remain at home until at least 24 hours after they are free of fever (100° F [37.8°C]), or signs of a fever without the use of fever-reducing medications.

Decisions to extend the exclusion period should be made after consulting with local health officials. More stringent guidelines and longer periods of exclusion (for example, until complete resolution of all symptoms) may be considered for people returning to a setting where high numbers of high-risk people may be exposed, such as a camp for children with asthma or a child care facility for children younger than 5 years old. High-risk groups for influenza complications include:
  • children younger than 5 years old;
  • persons aged 65 years or older;
  • children and adolescents (younger than 18 years) who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy and who might be at risk for experiencing Reye syndrome after influenza virus infection;
  • pregnant women;
  • adults and children who have asthma, other chronic pulmonary, cardiovascular, hepatic, hematological, neurologic, neuromuscular, or metabolic disorders such as diabetes;
  • adults and children who have immunosuppression (including immunosuppression caused by medications or by HIV);
  • residents of nursing homes and other chronic-care facilities.

Read the entire notice here.


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Friday, August 7, 2009

There's probably no better way to assess city or county preparedness plans than by holding mock disaster drills. Alexander County in North Carolina recently held a disaster drill presenting the worst case scenario for local emergency officicals — a school bus full of children and a truck carrying hazardous materials — colliding on a rural road.

These types of drills can help expose areas of weakness, and ensure that the emergency plans already in place will work as designed. Alexander county experienced some communications issues during their drill, and were able to address those issues on the spot. The drill was funded by a Division of Emergency Management grant.

The key is to perform an honest assessent on the results of the drill. Be proud of the things you did right - but particularly focus on the areas where you can most improve.


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As Hurricane Felicia approaches the Hawaiian islands, residents are encouraged to begin their preparedness actions. Felicia is currently a Category 4 storm system located approximately 1,475 miles east-south-east of Hilo with maximum sustained winds of 135 mph and higher gusts.

Mayor Mufi Hannemann has advised, "All residents should closely follow the track of Felicia, which is the strongest storm system in the Pacific since Hurricane Daniel in 2006. In addition we highly advise everyone to begin individual, family and business preparedness actions as soon as possible."

Preparedness actions include ensuring you have adequate emergency supplies. The Hawaii State Civil Defense website includes a listing of items to have. We encourage you to review the list, and feel free to browse our site to purchase any of the recommended items.

You can receive more information on Hurricanes and preparedness tips on the National Hurricane center website.


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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) is encouraging state organizations to apply for grants available for disaster preparedness. Specifically, the AVMA discusses the grants offered by the American Veterinary Medical Foundation. These grants assist states with ensuring their emergency preparedness plans address the needs of individuals with household pets and service animals following a major disaster or emergency.

For more information, see the article here.


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Monday, July 13, 2009

Bring the kids to Red Robin July 13-19, and you’ll receive a free Child ID Kit for every kid’s meal purchased while supplies last. The Child ID Kit is a perfect resource for parents and guardians who may be faced with a missing or lost child. Once filled out, parents should keep the ID Kit in a safe place in case of emergency. ID Kit contains a child’s personal information including their physical characteristics, name, DOB, fingerprints, sex, address, etc.

For every kid’s meal Red Robin sells from July 13 – 19, they will donate 50 cents to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children – up to a maximum total contribution of $25,000.

Nice job Red Robin!


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Friday, January 9, 2009
Assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit

You should assemble and maintain a portable Disaster Supplies Kit that you can use at home or can take with you if you must evacuate. In addition, if you have a vehicle, you should always keep it stocked with basic emergency supplies. In a disaster situation, you may need access to your Disaster Supplies Kit quickly—whether you are sheltering at home or evacuating. Store the items in your kit in sturdy, clearly labeled, easy-to-carry containers near the door, if possible. Duffle bags, backpacks, and covered trash receptacles are good candidates for containers. In ddition to the three-day supply of food and water in your Disaster Supplies Kit, you should consider maintaining a two-week supply of food and water in your home. Following a disaster, having the right supplies can help your household endure home confinement or evacuation.

Assemble the following items for use at home or in case you must evacuate. Pack them in easy-to-carry containers and label the containers clearly.
  • Food—a three-day supply in the kit and at least an additional four-day supply readily accessible for use if you are confined to home. You may want to consider stocking a two-week supply of food and water in your home.
  • Water—three gallons per person in the kit and an additional four gallons per person readily accessible for use if you are confined to home.
  • Portable, battery-powered radio or television and extra, fresh batteries.
  • Flashlight and extra, fresh batteries.
  • First aid kit.
  • Medications—Prescription and non-prescription that are regularly used. Check with your physician or pharmacist on storage requirements.
  • Cash and coins.
  • Copies of personal identification, such as driver's licenses, passports, and work identification badges, and copies of medical prescriptions and credit cards.
  • An extra set of car keys and house keys.
  • Matches in a waterproof container.
  • Map of the area marked with places you could go and their telephone numbers.
  • Items for infants, such as formula, diapers, bottles, pacifiers, powdered milk, and medications not requiring refrigeration.
  • Special items, such as denture needs, contact lenses and supplies, extra eyeglasses, and hearing aid batteries.
  • Items for seniors, disabled persons, or anyone with serious allergies.
  • Kitchen accessories: manual can opener; mess kits or disposable cups, plates, and utensils; utility knife; sugar and salt; aluminum foil and plastic wrap; reseal-able plastic bags.
  • Household liquid bleach.
  • For each person, one complete change of clothing and footwear, including sturdy work shoes or boots, raingear, and other items adjusted for the season, such as hat and gloves, thermal underwear, sunglasses, dust mask.
  • Blankets or sleeping bag for each person.
  • Small tent, compass, small shovel.
  • Paper, pencil; needles, thread; small A-B-C-type fire extinguisher; medicine dropper; histle; emergency preparedness manual.
  • Sanitation and hygiene items: toilet paper, towelettes, soap, hand sanitizer, liquid detergent, feminine supplies, shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, comb and brush, lip balm, sunscreen, plastic garbage bags (heavy-duty) and ties (for personal sanitation uses), medium-sized plastic bucket with tight lid, disinfectant, household chlorine bleach.
  • Entertainment, such as games and books. Favorite comfort dolls, stuffed animals for small children.
  • Always keep a shut-off valve wrench near the gas and water shut-off valves in your home.
  • Roll of duct tape and scissors.
  • Plastic sheeting pre-cut to fit shelter-in-place room openings.
    NOTE: In the unlikely event that a certain type of chemical hazard causes officials to advise people in a specific area to shelter-in-place in a sealed room, households should have in the room they have selected for this purpose:
    • Plastic sheeting pre-cut to fit room openings
    Duct tape and scissors.

Ten square feet of floor space per person will provide sufficient air to prevent carbon dioxide buildup for up to five hours. Local officials are unlikely to recommend the public shelter in a sealed room for more than 2-3 hours because the effectiveness of such sheltering diminishes with time as the contaminated outside air gradually seeps into the shelter.

Adapted from Talking About Disaster: Guide for Standard Messages. Washington, DC. 2006


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Why talk about a Disaster Supplies Kit?
After a disaster, local officials and relief workers will be on the scene, but they cannot reach everyone immediately. You could get help in hours, or it may take days. Basic services, such as electricity, gas, water, sewage treatment, and telephones, may be cut off for days or even weeks. You may have to evacuate at a moment's notice and take essentials with you. You probably will not have the opportunity to shop or search for the supplies you will need. A Disaster Supplies Kit can help your family stay safe and be more comfortable after a disaster.

What is a Disaster Supplies Kit?
A Disaster Supplies Kit is a collection of basic items that members of a household would probably need in the event of a disaster. The items are stored in a portable container(s) near, or as close as possible to, the exit door. Every household should assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit and keep it up to date. The number of people in a household and their ages and abilities will determine how many containers will be required to carry the kit items.

What to Tell Children

  • Involve children in disaster preparedness at home so they are aware of the need to prepare and know what is being done. As they are able, have children help plan and assemble kits and put them where they will be ready if needed. Involving children is the first step in helping them know what to do in an emergency.
  • Ask children to help the household remember to keep the kits updated by rotating the emergency food and water or replacing it every six months, and by replacing batteries as necessary. Children could make calendars and mark the dates for checking emergency supplies.
  • Ask children to think of items that they would like to include in a Disaster Supplies Kit, such as books or games or nonperishable food items.
  • Involve children in preparing plans and disaster kits for pets and other animals.

Adapted from Talking About Disaster: Guide for Standard Messages. Washington, DC. 2006


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Friday, December 26, 2008
  • Work with local print, radio, and television reporters to:
    -Get the word out about how to make a Family Disaster Plan and how important it is for each household to have one and to keep it up to date.
    -Publicize information from local emergency services and American Red Cross officials on how people with mobility impairments or disabilities should plan for a disaster.
    Help the reporters to localize the information by providing them with the local emergency telephone number for the fire, police, and emergency medical services departments (usually 9-1-1) and emergency numbers for the local utilities and hospitals. Also provide the business telephone numbers for the local emergency management office and local American Red Cross chapter.
  • Work with officials of the local fire, police, and emergency medical services departments; utilities; hospitals; emergency management office; and American Red Cross chapter to prepare and disseminate guidelines for people with mobility impairments about what to do if they have to evacuate.
  • Within neighborhood organizations, such as homeowners associations or crime watch groups, introduce disaster preparedness activities that help people think about how they can prepare for a disaster, stay safe during a disaster, and help each other should a disaster occur. iPrepare participated in a really well-done preparedness fair in San Jose, California - click to take a look! Here are some key points:
    -Encourage neighborhood residents to prepare Family Disaster Plans and keep them up to date.
    -Encourage neighborhood residents to create Disaster Supplies Kits and keep them up to date.
    -Encourage neighborhood residents to plan how they could work together after a disaster until help arrives. Have them also consider ways they can cooperate with each other during recovery. Working with neighbors can save lives and property.
    -Check with your local fire department or emergency management training is offered for interested residents.
    -Create a neighborhood map with names and home and cell phone numbers next to each address so neighbors can contact each other in an emergency.
    -Encourage people to find out their neighbors' special skills (for example, medical, technical) and consider how they could help in a disaster situation.
    -Identify elderly and disabled people in the neighborhood, single parents with young children, or others who might need help. Determine how neighbors can help them if a disaster threatens (transportation, securing the home, getting medications, etc.).
    -Encourage parents to make plans with neighbors for child care in case parents cannot get home in an emergency situation.

Adapted from: Talking About Disaster: Guide for Standard Messages. Washington, DC. 2006


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If you have pets, you should:
  • Take your pets with you if you evacuate. If it is not safe for you, it is not safe for them. Leaving them may endanger you, your pets, and emergency responders.
  • Plan in advance where you will go if you evacuate, as pets (other than service animals) are usually not allowed in public shelters. Some communities have established sheltering options for pets. Contact your local emergency management agency to see if there are any emergency animal shelters in your community or along your evacuation route.
  • Contact hotels and motels outside your immediate area to check their policies on accepting pets and restrictions on the number, size, and species. Ask if "no pet" policies could be waived in an emergency.
  • Ask friends, relatives, or others outside your area if they could shelter your animals. If you have two or more pets, they may be more comfortable if kept together, but be prepared to house them separately.
  • Prepare a list of boarding facilities and veterinarians who could shelter animals in an emergency; include 24-hour telephone numbers. Ask local animal shelters if they provide emergency shelter or foster care for pets in a disaster situation. Animal shelters may be overburdened, so this should be your last resort unless you make such arrangements well in advance.
  • Keep a list of "pet friendly" places, including their telephone numbers, with other disaster information and supplies. If you have notice of an impending disaster, call ahead for reservations. Hotels and motels with “no-pet” policies may waive these policies during a disaster, particularly if the pet is housed in a carrier. Contact establishments along your evacuation route to see if they will waive “no-pet” rules, and make sure you have adequate facilities and supplies for your pets.
  • Carry pets in a sturdy carrier. Animals may feel threatened by some disasters, become frightened, and try to run. Being in its own carrier helps reassure a pet.
  • Have identification, collar, leash, and proof of vaccinations for all pets. At some locations, you may need to provide veterinary records before boarding your pets. If your pet is lost, identification will help officials return it to you.
  • Assemble a portable pet disaster supplies kit. Keep food, water, and any special pet needs in an easy-to-carry container.
  • Have a current photo of your pets in case they get lost.
  • Create a plan in case you are not at home during an emergency to ensure that someone takes care of your pets, even evacuating them if necessary. The plan should include these elements:
    -Give a trusted neighbor the key to your home and instructions, as well as your daytime (work or school) contact information.
    -Make sure the neighbor is familiar with your pets and knows the location of your pet emergency kit.
    -Make sure the neighbor listens to a local radio or television station for emergency information and puts your shelter-in-place or pet evacuation plan into action.
    -Have a plan to communicate with your neighbor after the event. You will want to arrange a meeting place in a safe area so you can be reunited with your pets.
  • Contact your local emergency management agency, humane society, and animal control agency to see if your community has sheltering options for animals and for families with pets. If not, learn more about emergency animal shelters and volunteer to include this option in local disaster preparedness efforts.
  • Learn pet first aid and keep your pet first aid kit up to date.

Adapted from: Talking About Disaster: Guide for Standard Messages. Washington, DC. 2006


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If you have a disability or a mobility problem, you should consider adding the following steps to the usual preparations:

  • Create a network of relatives, friends, or co-workers to assist in an emergency. If you think you may need assistance in a disaster, discuss your disability with relatives, friends, or co-workers and ask for their help. For example, if you need help moving or help getting necessary prescriptions, food, or other essentials, or if you require special arrangements to receive emergency messages, make a plan with friends or helpers. Make sure they know where you keep your Disaster Supplies Kit. Give a key to a neighbor or friend who may be able to assist you in a disaster.
  • Maintain a list of important items and store the list with your Disaster Supplies Kit. Give a copy to another member of your household and a friend or neighbor. Important items might include:
    -Special equipment and supplies, for example, hearing aid batteries.
    -Current prescription names, sources, and dosages.
    -Names, addresses, and telephone numbers of doctors and pharmacists. If you get prescriptions by mail, confirm where you will be able to get them locally in an emergency.
    -Detailed information about the specifications of your medication or medical regimen, including a list of things incompatible with medication you use, for example, aspirin.
  • Contact your local emergency management office now. Many local emergency management offices maintain registers of people with disabilities and their needs so they can be located and assisted quickly in a disaster.
  • Wear medical alert tags or bracelets to identify your disability in case of an emergency. These may save your life if you are in need of medical attention and unable to communicate.
  • Know the location and availability of more than one facility if you are dependent on a dialysis machine or other life-sustaining equipment or treatment. There may be other people requiring equipment, or facilities may have been affected by the disaster.
  • If you have a severe speech, language, or hearing disability:
    -When you dial 9-1-1 (or your local emergency number), tap the space bar to indicate a TDD call.
    -Store a writing pad and pencils to communicate with others.
    -Keep a flashlight handy to signal your whereabouts to other people and for illumination to aid in communication.
    -Remind friends that you cannot completely hear warnings or emergency instructions. Ask them to be your source of emergency information as it comes over the radio. Another option is to use a NOAA Weather Radio with an alert feature connected to a light. If a watch or warning is issued for your area, the light would alert you to potential danger.
    -If you have a hearing ear dog, be aware that the dog may become confused or disoriented in an emergency. Store extra food, water, and supplies for your dog. Trained hearing ear dogs will be allowed to stay in emergency shelters with their owners. Check with local emergency management or American Red Cross officials for more information.
  • If you have a service animal:
    -Be aware that the animal may become confused or disoriented in an emergency. Disasters may often mask or confuse scent markers that are part of your service animal’s normal means of navigation.
    -If you are blind or visually impaired, keep extra canes placed around your home and office, even if you use a guide dog.
    -If you have a guide dog, train the dog to know one or two alternate routes out of your home or office. A guide dog familiar with the building may help you and others find a way out when no one else can see.
    -Be sure your service animal has identification and your phone numbers attached to its collar, including emergency contact information through a national pet locator service.
    -Have a complete pet disaster kit with food and water, medical records and identification, bowls, extra leash, a favorite toy, and a pet first aid kit. See “Pet Disaster Supplies Kit.”
    -Trained service animals will be allowed to stay in emergency shelters with their owners. Check with your local emergency management agency or American Red Cross officials for more information.
  • If you use a wheelchair:
    -Show friends how to operate your wheelchair or help you transfer out of your chair so they can move you quickly if necessary.
    -If you use a power wheelchair, make sure friends know the size of your wheelchair, in case it has to be transported, and know where to get a battery if needed.
    -Inquire about emergency equipment that would make it easier for others to help you get out if you live or work in a high-rise building and might have to evacuate via a stairwell. Make arrangements with others to be carried out, if necessary, and practice doing that.
  • Listen to the advice of local officials. People with disabilities have the same choices as other community residents about whether to evacuate their homes and where to go when an emergency threatens. Decide whether it is better to leave the area, stay with a friend, or go to a public shelter. Each of these decisions requires planning and preparation.

Adapted from: Talking About Disaster: Guide for Standard Messages. Washington, DC. 2006


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Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Practice and maintain your plan

Practicing your plan will help you respond appropriately and quickly during an actual emergency. To make sure your household is ready for disaster:

  • Review your Family Disaster Plan and your Disaster Supplies Kit at least every six months. You may need to update them.
  • Observe the expiration or “use by” date on stored food and water. If you have prepared you own containers of water, replace them every six months to ensure freshness.
  • Conduct fire and emergency evacuation drills at least twice a year.
    -At home, practice escaping from various rooms, particularly bedrooms, and meeting at the place you have selected right outside your home.
    -Have each driver actually drive evacuation routes so each will know the way. Select alternative routes and familiarize drivers with them in case the main evacuation route is blocked during an actual disaster.
    -Mark your evacuation routes on a map and keep the map in your Disaster Supplies Kit. Remember to follow the advice of disaster officials during an evacuation. They will direct you to the safest route, away from roads that may be blocked or put you in further danger.
  • Include your pets in your evacuation and sheltering drills. Practice evacuating your pets so they will get used to entering and traveling calmly in their carriers. If you have horses or other large animals, be sure that they are accustomed to entering a trailer. Practice bringing your pets indoors, into your safe room, so that if you are required to shelter-in-place, they will be comfortable.
  • Use the test button to test your smoke alarms once a month. The test feature tests all electronic functions and is safer than testing with a controlled fire (match, lighter, or cigarette). If necessary, replace batteries immediately. Vacuum cobwebs and dust from the mechanisms once a month. Make sure your children know what your smoke alarm sounds like.
  • Replace batteries at least once a year in battery-powered smoke alarms. (Replace the batteries in your CO alarms at the same time you replace your smoke alarm batteries.) You may have heard it recommended that you replace batteries when the time changes from standard to daylight savings time each spring and then back again in the fall: “Change your clock, change your batteries.” Replacing batteries this often certainly will not hurt; however National Fire Protection Association and U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission data show that fresh batteries will last at least a year, so more frequent replacement is not necessary unless the smoke alarm begins to chirp. Also, Arizona, Hawaii, the eastern portion of Indiana, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and Guam do not use daylight savings time. Pick an easy-to-remember anniversary, such as your birthday or a national holiday, as the day to change the batteries each year.
  • Replace your smoke alarms every 10 years. That is the recommendation of the National Fire Protection Association and the U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Smoke alarms become less sensitive over time.
  • Look at your fire extinguisher to ensure that it is properly charged. Fire extinguishers will not work properly if they are not properly charged. Use the gauge or test button to check that there is proper pressure. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for replacing or recharging fire extinguishers. If the unit is low on pressure, damaged, or corroded, replace it or have it professionally serviced.

Adapted from: Talking About Disaster: Guide for Standard Messages. Washington, DC. 2006


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Make and complete a checklist

Include the following:
  • Post emergency numbers (fire, police, ambulance, etc.) by telephones. You may not have time in an emergency to look up critical numbers.
  • Teach all responsible members of the household how and when to turn off the water, gas, and electricity at the main switches or valves. Turn off utilities only if you suspect a leak or damaged lines, or if you are instructed to do so by authorities. If you turn the gas off, you will need a professional to turn it back on. Become familiar with the location and operation of shut-off valves. Do not actually turn any valve unless it is a real emergency. Place a tag on shut-off valves to make them easier to identify.
  • Attach a shut-off valve wrench or other special tool in a conspicuous place close to the gas and water shut-off valves.
  • Check if you have adequate insurance coverage. Homeowners’ insurance does not cover flood losses. Ask your insurance agent to review your current policies to ensure that they will cover your home and belongings adequately. If you are a renter, your landlord's insurance does not protect your personal property; it protects only the building. Renters' insurance pays if a renter's property is damaged or stolen. Renters' flood insurance costs less than $15 a month in most areas of the country. Contact your insurance agent for more information.
  • If you are especially vulnerable to floods, consider relocating.
  • Be sure to have working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms in your home.
  • According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), in 1999-2001, an average of 70% of home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with either no smoke alarms or in which none of the smoke alarms sounded.
  • If every home had working smoke alarms, U.S. home fire deaths would decrease by an estimated 36%, resulting in an estimated 1,120 lives saved per year, based on 1999-2001 averages, NFPA says.
  • For new homes, interconnected smoke alarms are required on every level of the home, outside each sleeping area, and inside each bedroom. Although this approach is ideal for all homes, as a minimum, existing homes should have smoke alarms on every level and outside each sleeping area. Install CO alarms following the manufacturer’s instructions. It is especially important to have a CO alarm near sleeping areas. CO alarms with labels showing they meet the requirements of the latest safety standards for CO alarms (UL 2034, IAS 6-96, or CSA 6.19.01). Test and maintain the smoke and CO alarms according to the manufacturer’s instructions. (See Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Alarms.)
  • Consider equipping your home with alternative heating sources, such as fireplaces, wood- or coal-burning stoves, or space heaters. Be sure all heating sources are installed according to local codes and permit requirements and are clean and in working order. (See “Smoke Alarms” and “Carbon Monoxide Alarms”)
  • Get training from the fire department in how to use your fire extinguisher (A-B-C type), and show household members where extinguishers are kept. Different extinguishers operate in different ways. Make sure that responsible members of the household know how to use your particular model. There is no time to read directions during an emergency. Only adults should handle and use extinguishers. (See “Fire Extinguishers”)
  • Conduct a home hazard hunt. During a disaster, ordinary objects in your home can cause injury or damage. Anything that can move, fall, break, or cause a fire is a home hazard. For example, during an earthquake or a tornado, a hot water heater or a bookshelf could turn over or pictures hanging over a couch could fall and hurt someone. Look for electrical, chemical, and fire hazards. Contact your local fire department to learn about home fire hazards. Inspect your home at least once a year and fix potential hazards. In your hazard hunt, include your barns, outbuildings, or any other structures that house animals. Be aware of hazards at nose and paw or hoof level, particularly debris, spilled chemicals, fertilizers, and other substances that may not seem to be dangerous to humans. Make sure your fences are sound and positioned to allow grazing animals to move to high ground in the event of flooding.
  • Consider your need to add physical protection measures to your home. Add a “wind safe” room (see “Wind Safe Room”) and tie your roof to the main frame of your house securely with metal straps for protection in case of hurricanes or tornadoes; bolt your house to the foundation to reduce earthquake damage; or take other measures you may find on (click on Preparation and Prevention). Ensure that access and evacuation are manageable for elderly members of your household or those with disabilities.
  • Assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit and stock emergency supplies. Keep readily accessible in a portable container supplies that would meet your needs for at least three days. You can use these if you shelter at home or if you evacuate. Also, stock enough food and water for up to two weeks in your home. Keep an emergency kit in your vehicle. (See “Disaster Supplies Kit”, Stocking and Storing Food and Water”, and “Emergency Supplies for Your Vehicle”)
  • Keep a portable, battery-operated radio or television and extra batteries in your Disaster Supplies Kit. Maintaining a communication link with the outside is a step that can mean the difference between life and death. Make sure that everyone knows where the portable, battery-operated radio or television is located, and always keep a supply of extra, fresh batteries.
  • Consider buying a NOAA Weather Radio with a tone-alert feature. NOAA Weather Radio is the best way to receive warnings from the National Weather Service. The National Weather Service recommends a NOAA Weather Radio that has both a battery backup and a Specific Area Message Encoder (SAME) feature, which automatically alerts you when a watch or warning is issued for your county.
  • Take an American Red Cross first aid and CPR class and have other household members take one too. You will learn basic safety measures and skills that can be indispensable in an emergency. These classes can be fun for older children.
  • Plan home escape routes. Determine the best escape routes from inside your home in case a fire or other emergency requires you to leave the house quickly. Find two ways out of each room.
  • Find the safe places in your home for shelter during different types of disaster. Certain disasters require specific types of safe places. While basements are appropriate for tornadoes, they could be deadly in a hazardous materials emergency.
  • Make a complete inventory of your home, garage, and surrounding property. The inventory can be written or videotaped. Include information such as serial numbers, make and model numbers, physical descriptions, and what you paid (receipts, if possible). This inventory could help you prove the value of what you owned if your possessions are damaged or destroyed and can help you claim deductions on taxes. Do this for all items in your home, on all levels.
  • Keep the originals of important documents in a safe deposit box, if possible, and make two copies of each document. Keep one set of copies in a waterproof, fireresistant, portable container in your home and give the other set of copies to an out-oftown relative or friend. Important documents include:
    -Wills, insurance policies, contracts, deeds, vehicle titles, stocks and bonds
    -Passports, driver’s licenses, work identification badges, social security cards, immunization records
    -List of bank account names and numbers and credit card names and numbers
    -Inventory of valuable household goods
    -Important telephone and cell phone numbers
    -Family records (birth, marriage, adoption, and death certificates)
    -For your pets, vaccination and veterinary records, photographs showing your pet clearly (best with you in the photos), and any other special records.

Adapted from: Talking About Disaster: Guide for Standard Messages. Washington, DC. 2006


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Create a Family Disaster Plan.

Once you know what disasters are possible in your area, have a household meeting to talk about how to prepare and how to respond if a disaster should occur. Plan to share responsibilities and to work together as a team. Know what to do in case household members are separated in a disaster. Disaster situations are stressful and can create confusion. Keep it simple.

Note: You can adapt the Family Disaster Plan to any household—couples, related or unrelated individuals, adults without children, adults with children. Even people who live alone should create a Family (Household) Disaster Plan.

- Pick two places to meet:

  1. Right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency, like a fire.
  2. Outside your neighborhood in case you cannot return home or are asked to leave your neighborhood.

- Pick two out-of-town contacts:

  1. A friend or relative who will be your household’s primary contact.
  2. A friend or relative who will be your household’s alternative contact.

Both adults and children should know the primary and alternative contacts’ names, addresses, and home and cell telephone numbers, or carry the information with them. In addition, include these contact numbers on your pet’s identification tags, or use a national pet locator service that someone could call to report finding your pet.

Separation is particularly likely during the day when adults are at work and children are at school. If household members are separated from one another in a disaster, they should call the primary contact. If the primary contact cannot be reached, they should call the alternative contact. Remember, after a disaster, it is often easier to complete a long-distance connection than a local call.

Make sure that adults and children know how to tell the contact where they are, how to reach them, and what happened or to leave this essential information in a brief voice mail.

Discuss what to do if a family member is injured or ill.

  • Discuss what to do in the rare circumstance that authorities advise you to shelter-in-place. (See “How to Shelter-in-Place”) Note: You can adapt the Family Disaster Plan to any household—couples, related or unrelated individuals, adults without children, adults with children. Even people who live alone should create a Family (Household) Disaster Plan.
  • Discuss what to do if authorities advise you to evacuate. Learn about public shelter locations in your community. Make “in-case-of-evacuation” arrangements for a place to stay with a friend or relative who lives out of town or with a hotel, motel, or campground you are familiar with that can be reached by an evacuation route you would expect to take.
  • Be familiar with evacuation routes. Plan several evacuation routes in case certain roads are blocked or closed. Remember to follow the advice of local officials during evacuation situations. They will direct you to the safest route; some roads may be blocked or put you in further danger.
  • Plan how to take care of your pets. Pets (other than service animals) usually are not permitted in public shelters or other places where food is served. Plan where you would take your pets if you had to go to a public shelter where they are not permitted. Many communities are developing emergency animal shelters similar to shelters for people. Contact your local emergency management agency to find out about emergency animal shelters in your community, in the event that you have nowhere else to go and need to go to public shelter with your animals.

Adapted from: Talking About Disaster: Guide for Standard Messages. Washington, DC. 2006


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Be Prepared for Disasters - Find out What Could Happen to You

Make a Plan
For general preparedness, every household should create and practice a Family Disaster Plan and assemble and maintain a Disaster Supplies Kit. In addition, every household should take precautions specific to the types of disasters that could affect the local community and plan for and practice what to do if these disasters occur.
  • Find out what could happen to you. By learning what disasters could occur in your community and what your risks may be (for example, living in a floodplain), you can prepare for the disasters most likely to occur in your area. Learn more by contacting your local emergency management office or American Red Cross chapter. Be prepared to take notes. Ask the following:
  • What types of natural disasters are most likely to happen in your community? What types of human-caused or technological disasters could affect your region? Ask about chemical emergencies, which can occur anywhere chemical substances are stored, manufactured, or transported.
  • Find out if your home is in a floodplain. Check with your local emergency management
  • How should you prepare for natural and human-caused disasters?
  • What can you do to protect your home and avoid or reduce the impact of the disasters that could occur where you live?
  • Does your community have a public warning system? How will your local radio and television stations alert the community if there is an emergency? What do your community's warning signals sound like and what should you do when you are notified?
  • If you care for young or elderly people or people with disabilities, how can you help them
    in a disaster situation? What might be some special needs to consider?
  • What about animal care after a disaster? Pets (other than service animals) usually are not permitted in public shelters or other places where food is served. Where could you take your pets if you had to go to a public shelter? Contact your local emergency management agency to find out about emergency animal shelters in your community, in the event that you have nowhere else to go and need to go to public shelter with your animals.

Then, find out about the disaster plans at your workplace, your children's school or daycare center, and other places where members of your family spend time. You should beprepared wherever you may be in case disaster strikes and learn steps you can take to preventor avoid disasters.

From: Talking About Disaster: Guide for Standard Messages. Washington, DC. 2006


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What to Tell Children

Parents and caregivers should:
  • Tell children that a disaster is something that happens that could hurt people, cause damage, or cut off utilities, such as water, telephones, or electricity. Explain to them that nature sometimes provides "too much of a good thing"— fire, rain, wind, snow. Talk about typical effects that children can relate to, such as loss of electricity, water, and telephone service.

  • Give examples of several disasters that could happen in your community. Help
    children recognize the warning signs for each. Discussing disaster ahead of time
    reduces fear and anxiety and lets everyone know how to respond.

  • Be prepared to answer children’s questions about scary things that they have heard about or seen on television, such as terrorist attacks. Give constructive information about how to be prepared to protect themselves and how to respond.

  • Teach children how and when to call for help. Teach them to call 9-1-1 or your local emergency telephone number. At home, post emergency numbers by all telephones
    and explain when to call each number. Include the work numbers and cell phone
    numbers of household members. Even very young children can be taught how and
    when to call for emergency assistance. If a child cannot read, make an emergency
    telephone number chart with pictures or icons for 911, “daddy,” and “mommy” that
    may help the child identify the correct number to call.

  • Tell children that in a disaster there are many people who can help them. Talk about ways that an emergency manager, American Red Cross worker, police officer,
    firefighter, teacher, neighbor, doctor, or utility worker might help after a disaster.

  • Teach children to call your out-of-town contact in case they are separated from the family and cannot reach family members in an emergency. Tell them, “If no one
    answers, leave a voice message if possible and then call the alternative contact.”
    Help them memorize the telephone numbers, and write them down on a card that
    they can keep with them.

  • Quiz children every six months so they will remember where to meet, what telephone numbers to call, and safety rules.

  • Explain that when people know what to do and practice in advance, everyone is able to take care of themselves better in emergencies. Tell them that is why you need to create a Family Disaster Plan.

  • Allay children’s fears by emphasizing that, in an emergency, a parent or caregiver will be there to help.
From: Talking About Disaster: Guide for Standard Messages. Washington, DC. 2006


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Why talk about a Family Disaster Plan?
Disaster can strike quickly and without warning. It can force you to evacuate your neighborhood or confine you to your home. What would you do if basic services, such as water, gas, electricity, or telephones, were cut off? Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster, but they cannot reach everyone right away.

You and the other members of your household could be separated during a disaster. Having a plan will help you find each other.

Families can and do cope with disaster by preparing in advance and working together as a team. Knowing what to do is your best protection and your responsibility. Learn more about Family Disaster Plans by contacting your local emergency management office or local American Red Cross chapter.

What is a Family Disaster Plan?
A Family Disaster Plan is a personalized action plan that lets each member of a household know what to do in particular disaster situations and how to be prepared in advance. A functional Family Disaster Plan helps alleviate fears about potential disasters, makes actual disaster situations less stressful, and saves precious time in the face of disasters.

From: Talking About Disaster: Guide for Standard Messages. Washington, DC. 2006


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Monday, November 24, 2008
Take a minute now to call or e-mail an out-of-town friend or family member to ask him or her to be your family’s designated contact in the event of an emergency. This person be located far enough away so that they are unlikely to be impacted by your local disaster or emergency. Be sure to share the contact's phone number with everyone in the family. During an emergency, you can call your contact who can share with other family members where you are; how you are doing; and how to get in contact with you.

Prepardness tip adapted from the Department of Homeland Security:

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Your child's school will have an emergency plan. Get a copy of this by requesting a copy at the school office, or checking out the school's website. Keep a copy at home and work or other places where you spend a lot of your time. Incorporate the school's plan into your family’s emergency plan. Also, learn about the disaster plans at your workplace or other places where you and your family spend time.

Prepardness tip adapted from the Department of Homeland Security:

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Meet with your family, loved ones or neighbors and pick a place to meet after a disaster. It's best to designate two meeting places. The first place should be right outside your home, in case of a sudden home emergency, such as a fire. The second place you choose should be outside your neighborhood, (or immediate area) in the event that it is not safe to stay nearby.

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Sunday, November 23, 2008
Take a quick moment to imagine that there is an emergency (such as a fire) in your home, and you need to leave quickly. What are the best escape routes from your home? Find at least two ways out of each room. If you have a 2-story house, consider getting a Fire Escape Ladder so you can evacuate safely. Write down the escape routes, and review this with your family on a regular basis.

For more quick tips, visit

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Friday, November 21, 2008
You should store enough supplies in your home to meet the needs of you and your family for at least three days. Assemble an emergency kit to take with you in an evacuation. Be sure to include food, water, solar or battery-powered radio and flashlight with extra batteries, first aid supplies, change of clothing, blanket or sleeping bag, wrench or pliers, whistle, dust mask, plastic sheeting and duct tape, trash bags, map, a manual can opener for canned food and special items for infants, elderly, the sick or people with disabilities. Keep these items in an easy to carry container such as a covered trash container, a large backpack, or a duffle bag.

You can also assemble your kit using our "Build-a-Kit" tool.

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The easiest way to begin your emergency preparedness program is one step at a time. The amount of information and decisions to make can be overwhelming. So, we will start by sharing with you some short and simple preparedness tips.

1. Take a moment to think about the types of emergencies or disasters that are most likely to impact you. Do you live in a flood zone? Are you at risk for hurricanes? Do you live near a fault line where you could be affected by an earthquake? Fires can impact anyone, anywhere.

Once you have identified a type of disaster, perform a google search on this topic to gather as much relevant information as possible. Also, contact your local fire department to learn the types of preparations they recommend.

In future articles, we will be sharing more preparedness tips - simple step-by-step things you can do to help you become more prepared. One great resource is the Department of Homeland Security's "30 Tips for Emergency Preparedness." You can find a wealth of information at, or on other sites throughout the web. Our Disaster Preparedness Guide also includes detailed information that is specific to various types of disasters.

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Saturday, October 25, 2008
Last month one of our customers invited us to participate in the Strawberry Park Neighborhood Association Preparedness Fair. This neighborhood is located in San Jose, California - here is a link to their site:

The fair was well-attended, and we all had a great time. We met representatives from "San Jose, Prepared", we met Smokey the Bear, and we even met the mayor of San Jose, Chuck Reed. We would like to thank Ed and Patty Brooks for including us in this special event.

If you are holding a preparedness fair in your area for your neighborhood, your church or organization, feel free to contact us. We may be able to attend, or provide you other information you can hand out to your visitors.

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