Surviving the Unthinkable: How to Be Prepared for a Disaster

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When we invited Los Angeles Fire Department veteran, Steve Resnick, onto the show to discuss preparing ourselves for whatever may come, it was because there was so much happening in the news (Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico) that we thought it was important to get the word out and teach our listeners how to prepare in case of a disaster. We also knew some of that disaster preparedness would include information in case of an active shooter. In fact, it’s Steve’s very expertise. He’s the go-to guy for emergency response team training, evacuation, CPR, first aid, family preparedness and active shooter training. After 34 years on the LA city fire department, 20 of those years as captain, Steve had seen more and helped more people than we could ever imagine.

But not four days after having him in the studio, Steve found himself in the middle of the horror happening in Las Vegas, along with his wife, son and friends. The information and resources Steve provided in his interview with Kim and Jackie still ring true, in fact, more than ever.

Steve shares his expertise on what to do in the case of a natural disaster, active shooter or home invasion, and what you need to do TODAY to be prepared.

Natural Disasters Why you might be “on your own” for several days before getting help.

Home Intruder How to know if he’s there to do more than rob you and how to take him out.

Active Shooter What to do first, second and third and how to let the police know you’re not a threat amidst the chaos.

Prevention What we should do today to be prepared for the unexpected

Evacuation Why it’s important to leave when told to (and it might not be for the reason you think.)

Know where to run If you’re in a restaurant or other public area, always look for a second exit IN ADVANCE. Know which way to go when everyone else will be going the other way.

Below are tips and products discussed on this episode, curated to make it easier for you to prepare yourself. The links below are affiliate links that support the show at no cost to you.

Pepper Spray is no substitution for following your instincts and getting out of a situation that feels unsafe. But it does work well in a last defense when approached by a threat.


When it comes to natural disasters like a big earthquake on the west coast, Resnick says, “It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.”

What do you need to be prepared? Download the list here. Resnick suggests storing your emergency supplies in the garage as it’s often able to be accessed by three different doors. You don’t want to get caught keeping it somewhere that’s suddenly off limits due to doors or windows being stuck or blocked from the disaster.

We should all have enough water to last us at least five days – the general rule being a gallon a day per person. Be sure to rotate your emergency food and water every six months.

You’ve got plenty of canned goods and enough food to last for a week. Great. How will you prepare it? A grill you may already have for camping can definitely serve as an emergency stove.

When a natural disaster hits, often the phone lines aren’t able to connect to others in the same community or state. Designate an out of state contact who you and your loved ones can reach out to in order to send messages to each other until the phone lines are back up and running. Satellite phones can be a bit pricy but some opt to keep them in their emergency kit as a communication back up until phone lines are restored.

Remember it can be up to five days after a natural disaster before FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency] can get to the area and assist.

A utility wrench is an important part of your emergency kit, helping to turn off gas and water to keep you and your family safe. (Seriously, we had no idea about this one.) Don’t know where your electric and gas hookups are? Resnick talks about that one too.

In the event of an emergency, pulling together important papers should not be kept for last minute. A fireproof safe that’s easy to grab and go can make it a heck of a lot easier in the long run. No one needs to be spending days, weeks or even months trying to retrieve all of the important policies, passports and other important papers.

Resnick suggests not only having important personal items in a box, but in the event of a potential evacuation, back your car into the garage for easy packing — and don’t forget the photos.

Oh and don’t even think about being one of those with a low gas tank. In the case of an emergency, gas stations could be depleted or have lines that are hours long. His tip? Always, always, always have a  half tank of gas in your car, filling up as it hits the halfway mark.

More tips:

Have small bills in your emergency kit. When registers or credit card machines are down, do you really want to spend 20 bucks on a loaf of bread when they can’t make change?

Strap heavy furniture with L brackets. It’s a easy as one bracket screwed to the top of the furniture and studs in the wall.

In the case of an earthquake, try to find a “void space” next to something heavy and sturdy — duck, cover and hold. Be careful in doorways: The door can swing 25 MPH and hit you (so wedge your foot in there to prevent that from happening). If you’re in bed, roll out to side of bed onto the floor and wait it out.

In case of fire. The two products below are kind of a no brainer when it comes to fire preparedness. Do you have a fire extinguisher and do you know how to use it?

exit drills in the home

Do you live in a home with a second (or third) story? Investing in at least one fire ladder can mean the difference between climbing to safety and having no where to go until the fire department arrives.

Are you prepared for the unexpected? Share your tips and experience with us!

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