Stay Safe: Storing Emergency Drinking Water

It’s Tuesday! Better Stay Safe!


Disasters like earthquakes and winter storms can damage water systems. Broken water mains can happen after an earthquake or even a construction accident; freezing temperatures can also rupture pipes in homes.

Store at least 3 days of water for each member of your family.

1 gallon = 1 person = 1 day

Store 1 gallon of daily water for each family member.

  • 3 day supply for a family of 2 = 6 gallons of stored water
  • 3 day supply for a family of 5 = 15 gallons of stored water

If you have pets or additional needs, be sure to account for those too.

How to store water

Gallon-sized juice containers, 2-liter soda bottles, and water cooler jugs are all great water storage containers.

  • Clean your container. Put a small amount of bleach (~1/8 teaspoon) and a few cups of water into the bottle. Cap it and lightly shake the container. Empty the bottle, and wash the lid and around the top of the bottle.
  • Fill your container. Fill up with fresh tap water, all the way to the top of the bottle. Screw the lid on tightly, and you’re set.
  • Label the container. Label the bottle “emergency drinking water” and add the date you filled the container.
  • Keep your water fresh. Every 6 months, empty and refill the containers- use it to water plants or rinse off outdoor furniture. Changing your water when you change your clocks in the spring and fall is an easy way to remember this.

Things to avoid

This is mostly common sense. Still, make sure:

  • Don’t use glass bottles (they can break)
  • Avoid plastic milk jugs (hard to sanitize, and the plastic gets brittle)
  • Don’t use bottles that held bleach or chemicals

If you’re going to buy water, it pays to invest a little extra for a sturdy container. When I stored hurricane water in Florida, I bought the rectangular 3-gallon containers with the little spouts, and stacked them under my kitchen counter.

Eight or nine months later, I came home from work one day to find a tiny flood across my apartment… the containers had gotten brittle, and a tiny crack in the corner of one was all it took to drain the whole thing. Keep an eye on your stash, and keep it in sturdy containers!

The blue plastic 5-gallon jugs are easiest, and most grocery stores have them. Add one to your cart each time you go, and you’ll have it taken care of quickly.

Stay Safe: Home Retrofitting Resources

Safety Girl Shannon tells us what’s shakin’ when it comes to getting our homes ready for earthquakes.


Earthquakes are the biggest natural hazard we live with in the Northwest, and if you’re a homeowner you have the additional worry of being responsible for the safety of your home as well.

Do you have an older home?

Many older homes are built on top of the foundation, but not actually attached to it. In a strong earthquake, these homes can be shaken right off their foundation, creating enormous cleanup and repair costs for the owners. If you own a home built before 1980, this definitely means you! You can minimize this risk by retrofitting your home to meet newer building standards.

The City of Seattle offers free home retrofitting classes for homeowners.

The next earthquake home retrofit classes are:

Saturday, 1/22, 11am – 1pm at the Greenwood Library


Saturday, 2/12, 11am – 1pm at the Greenwood Library

The class is free, but you need to RSVP by calling (206) 233-5076.

Is your home ready for an earthquake? Attend this class and learn how to retrofit your home using Home Retrofit guidelines. This class is especially important for people who own homes built before 1980. This class is free. To register call 206-233-5076. For more information about the Home Retrofit program in the City of Seattle, see the Home Retrofit section of this website or call 206-233-5076.

You can also find more information about the city retrofit permitting process here.

Stay Safe: In Case of an Earthquake

It’s Tuesday once again, which beings us another STAY SAFE column by Ravenna’s Safety Girl, Shannon.


Earthquakes are the major natural hazard we’re prone to here in the Pacific Northwest, and the one our local services spend the most time and energy preparing for. You can keep yourself safer during an earthquake by remembering to:

Drop… cover… and hold.


Get low to the ground, but don’t run outside or into a doorway.


Within the first 3-4 seconds of shaking, get under a nearby table, desk, or sturdy counter. If there is nothing nearby you can get under, crouch next to heavy furniture or an inside wall, and cover your head with your arms.


Hold onto the table legs, desk, or furniture you’ve taken cover with. The strong vibrations of an earthquake could cause it to drift away from you if you’re not hanging onto it! Keep your cover overhead by holding on.


What if I’m outside?

If you’re near a building, go into the building and take cover in a safe place. In the United States, you’re in far more danger immediately outside a building than inside it.

If you’re in an open area outside, sit down and cover your head with your arms.

What if I’m not at home or work?

If you’re in a movie theater or stadium, get down between the rows of seats. If you’re at the grocery store, crouch down next to your cart and hold onto it.

If you’re driving, pull to the side of the road unless there is a tall building next to you. If you’re on a bridge, keep driving until you are off the bridge and then pull over, unless it is clearly unsafe to keep crossing the bridge. After the shaking stops, do not get out of the car until you or a bystander makes sure there are no power lines touching your car.

I thought we were supposed to stand in doorways?

Nope, it’s been proven that this is less safe. In older buildings this was true because doorways were designed to be load-bearing, but new construction methods have made doorways unsafe places to be during an earthquake.

It is also difficult to stay standing within a doorway during an earthquake, and during a quake the door will swing back and forth due to the vibrations. You don’t want to add smashed fingers and knuckles to your list of concerns afterward! Stay out of the doorways.

Can’t get enough? Download a PDF summary here.

Stay Safe: Driving in Winter Storms

Resident Ravenna Safety Girl, Shannon, has another emergency preparedness column for us this Tuesday. You may find it extremely relevant to your lives in the next couple days.


East-bound NE 75th St at 4 pm on November 22

You’ve all now seen first-hand the organized, thoughtful way most Seattle residents respond to winter weather. Here are a few more things to keep in mind as you go through the next several days:

Before you go

Keep your gas tank full

A glance at the television shows you the importance of this one. In heavy winter weather, there is no way to know how long it will actually take you to get somewhere, so a full tank will give you peace of mind and get you home. It’s also important to keep your car full of gas when the temperature drops, as it will help prevent your gas line from freezing.

Carry a storm kit

Before leaving for a trip or even a long commute, equip your car with blankets, bottled water and food (a jar of peanut butter or a bag of trail mix is good), flares or a safety triangle, car charger, and anything else you think is necessary for your trip. Put it all in a cardboard box and drop it in the trunk, and you’re good for the winter.

Remember to include a sack or two of cat litter for traction. If you are skidding, dig out the area just in front of your tires and pour some litter there to help get out of a slick spot.

On the road

Chain up

If you have chains for your car, make sure you know how to use them… the side of the road in Snoqualmie Pass is not the ideal time to learn the quirks of your particular set of chains. When you go out to chain up, pull the passenger-side floor mat out of the car to kneel on as you work– much better than lying in the snow. Use cable ties to help secure the loose ends of your chains, especially if your set just has S-hooks at the end.

Remember, if your car is chained up it is NOT safe to drive over 30 miles per hour. You don’t want to drive faster than that anyway though; if you’re driving at near-highway speeds and one end of your chain comes unfastened, it will chew up 4+ inches of your car fender in seconds.

Drive safely

Use your noggin here… if it’s a steep hill, don’t drive down it. If local residents have blocked off a side street, assume they have a good reason for warning you away from it. Stick to arterials, and leave extra time to get to your destination. If you can avoid driving in to work, do so- it’s safer to be on a Metro bus or a train in winter weather.

Learn to steer out of a skid! Braking is what will get you in trouble on snow and ice. Road Trip America has more information about how to recover from a skid.

And, of course, if you can telecommute or take the day off, it’s safest to just stay home in snowy and icy conditions.

An aside about power outages

If you’re at home and your power goes out, turn off your main breaker until the power comes back on (you can tell by watching the streetlights). Especially around dinnertime or during chores, it’s hard to remember what was turned on and what was hot after the electricity has been off for several hours.

Many fires are started after power outages end because people forget that they were cooking, using irons or hair appliances, or doing other work when the electricity was cut off. If we’re in the middle of cooking dinner and the power goes out, what do we tend to do? Go out to eat! In the hustle to get oriented and find a place to go, many folks forget that they left the stove on and so come home to a fire afterward. Turning electricity off at the breaker during an outage will keep you out of this situation.

You can get more local information at (they have a mobile site as well) or @WinterByStorm. Stay safe out there!

Stay Safe: Out-of-Area Phone Contacts

Welcome to the first post in a series on emergency preparedness by Ravenna Blog’s designated safety expert, Shannon (AKA safetygirl).

Shannon has been attending the Seattle Neighborhoods Actively Prepare (SNAP) training sessions offered by the city, and she has graciously offered to share her knowledge with the rest of the community on the Ravenna Blog.

Shannon will be bringing us tidbits on emergency preparedness every Tuesday until she runs out of ideas (or the apocalypse occurs, whichever comes first).


After a local emergency or a natural disaster, long-distance phone lines are more reliable than local lines or cell phones, which will be jammed with local people calling each other to get information.

Ask a friend or relative who lives outside of Washington State to be your family contact, and then make sure every member of your family has their number.

The Office of Emergency Management also reminds us:

The phone system will most likely become unavailable after a disaster, almost always caused by overuse of the system. Stay off all phones, both cell and land line phones, for at least 3 to 5 hours after a disaster, unless you need to call 911 for a life-threatening situation.

In the event of a local emergency like an earthquake, your family contact will become a relay point to share information with all your household members. If your household is separated during the emergency, which is likely if it takes place during a weekday, everyone will have a better chance of getting through to the out-of-area contact than to each other.

Remember, this plan depends on everyone having the contact’s phone number! Put it into your family’s address books, cell phones, or somewhere else accessible.

You can download a helpful PDF here.