Underwriters Laboratories (UL) has a pretty good emergency preparedness list of things to have and things to do before disaster strikes. Find it at:
I especially like that they don’t forget about the pets. If yours are on meds, don’t forget to have theirs in the kit as well as your own.
FEMA also has various online courses that are worth a look. I’ve taken the Animals in Disasters ones, an earthquake one, and a risk preparedness one. They also are the place to get info on how to set up a CERT program (Community Emergency Response Team). I’m trying to get the training to happen in my neighborhood, and I think it would be a good idea to tie it in with Neighborhood Watch programs to report looting, vandalism, and that sort of thing.
I would suggest, for storing water, the 5-gallon bottles from water coolers (NOT the glass ones!!) You can also use the water in your hot-water heater, or even from your toilet tank, which sounds icky, but that’s fresh water in there. I live in an old building where the toilets don’t even have tanks; odd design. TIP: in earthquake country, or anywhere else, really, like Tornado Alley (I live in both at the same time), it’s a good idea to attach your hot-water heater to the wall with metal strapping tape and screws. Two reasons. One, if it topples over, you lose all that water. Two, you also now have a snapped gas line, kaboom!
Small businesses should also have such supplies and preparations. Do practice drills at home AND at work. All 55 salt miners got out of the mine at Lake Peigneur in Louisiana in 1980 in part because they’d just had a practice evacuation a few days earlier. I used to inspect companies that stored a lot of chemicals and hazardous waste, but sometimes I’d ask to see their emergency response plan, and it took them a half-hour to find the damn thing, or it was locked in someone’s office who was on vacation, and nobody else had the key. Not much use in a real emergency. Also, some places stored their spill kit in some out-of-the-way spot where they’d actually have to wade through the chemical spill to get to it. Again, not good planning.
Many Japanese companies have very progressive disaster plans, including cots, food, and water so that employees could even bring their families there to ride out earthquake responses. Of course, that’s a culture where workers sing the company song while on the production line; not something you’d see in the U.S., for sure.