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Earthquake Prep

The Loma Prieta earthquake and aftermath of October 17, 1989, demonstrated the importance of civilian volunteers during a disaster. At the Marina fire, volunteers assisted the San Francisco Fire Department in those labor-intensive operations such as leading hose lines by hand over great distances to supply water from the Bay to the fire site. In a larger-scale disaster, the use of volunteers may be even more widespread and more necessary.
Our Fourth Street store crew member Frank is probably more prepared for a disaster than most. He is a Neighborhood Emergency Response Team (NERT) member, an Auxiliary Law Enforcement Response Team (ALERT) member, and a California Highway Patrol volunteer. In addition, he is a licensed ham radio operator and will soon be certified in the National Child Passenger Safety Certification training program, which means he will be able to install child safety seats and conduct child safety seat checks.
We asked Frank to put together a list of items that everyone should have in their home when the “big one” hits. Shown here are Frank’s recommendations for some of the important items to have on hand. This is a partial list, but you can stop by any of our locations and ask for the full list.
NERT and ALERT are programs offered by the San Francisco Fire Department and Police Department, respectively. East Bay residents can also become certified in the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program, a division of FEMA. For more information on any of these programs and how you can become certified, visit these websites:
And feel free to stop by our downtown Fourth Street location for free advice from Frank!


Here is the complete list of recommendations from San Francisco Fire Department Neighborhood Emergency Response Team (NERT)

• First aid kit – a decent, well-stocked kit, including a couple of weeks’ supply of any prescription medications you need. Also include pharmaceutical-grade crazy (skin) glue.
• Cash – plenty of it because depending on the event, credit cards may not be useful. Consider having about $100–$200 in ones; that way you never need change. A couple rolls of quarters could come in handy. Do not “flash” it around.
• 1 set of clothing – think layers, include 3 pairs of underwear, 3 pairs of socks, and a comfortable, sturdy pair of shoes.
• A blanket – to keep you warm. Consider a Mylar emergency blanket, which is lightweight and packs up small.
• Crank-style flashlight and snap lights such as glow sticks.
• Whistle – good for locating people in a crowd, at night, or in low-visibility conditions.
• Crank-style/battery-operated NOAA weather/AM-FM radio.
• Nonperishable food – energy bars are good and take up little space.
• Water.
• Goggles – protect your eyes! • Hand and feet warmers – get the carbon-activated kind; they work great.
• Rope – has endless uses; choose various sizes (rubber bands, too).
• Big black trash bags – use as a poncho or cut open to make a tent.
• Multi-use knife.
• Dust masks (2 per person) – best if heavy-duty respirator-type masks.
• Duct tape.
• Plastic sheeting.
• Copies of passport, driver’s license, insurance, and any other important documents.
• A map of the area you plan to go. • Toiletries. • Maxi pads – can also be used as a bandage if needed.
• Sticky pad and a pen and pencil in case you need to leave a note for family to let them know where you went or where to meet. Also, keep at least one wallet-size photo of your immediate family, children, and pets. This is crucial in case you get separated and need to enlist the help of others to find your loved ones.
• Gel antibacterial handwash (nonrinse) – available at any pharmacy and most supermarkets and convenience stores, for cleaning hands and even wounds in a pinch. You never know what you may have to touch in an emergency.
• A pair of leather work gloves again – think rescue and retrieval.
• Pet-care products.
San Francisco Fire Department Neighborhood Emergency Response Team (NERT) 415-970-2022 – email: – website: