The Hotel Swap

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on July 6, 2014 by eileenmagill

Have you ever checked into a hotel that you booked on line, entered the room, and been so grossed out that you turned around and left?  That’s what just happened to me at Safari Inn.

So here’s the back story (isn’t there always a back story with me?!).  I’ve decided to take an early retirement (11/2015 can’t get here soon enough!), and I’m looking for a new location for my “writer’s cave.” I’ve got to get away from the hustle and high prices of Silicon Valley and am seriously considering Oregon/Washington area.  I know, I know… “it’s too cold there… it rains all the time there.”  That’s precisely what I want!  I’m the daughter of a Canadian – whaddya expect, eh?  Anyway, I was already planning to take a week off to go to the Public Safety Writers Association conference in Las Vegas, and I thought, “what the hell, I’ll take an extra week of vacation and go about 700 miles out of my way and check out the Portland, Oregon / Vancouver, Washington communities.”  Along the route that I planned on taking up through Oregon, there’s an animal park that I thought I’d like to check out –Wildlife Safari – in Winston, Oregon.  I checked out hotels on line for the Winston area and settled on Safari Inn.  Big mistake… 

Perhaps I should have known that something was wrong when my GPS couldn’t originally find the address.  But I persevered and arrived (“Your destination is on the left”) Well, sure enough, there’s a cute hotel on my left, but it’s called the Wildlife Inn… not Safari Inn.  Figuring they’d changed their name being so close to the Wildlife Safari, I went to check in.  Nope, no reservation here.  They kindly directed me down the street to the Safari.  As I pulled in, my heart sank.  It put the Ug in Ugly.  But whatever.  Yes, they had my reservation.

When I went to the suspect stairs to go up to the second floor, there was a spider on the railing.  I really have this thing about spiders.  Gross.  I got into the room, and the spider was forgotten.  What’s the word I’m looking for… dump? No, that’s too classy.  The room was filthy – I won’t dwell on the details because I’ll just get irritated again.  There was one queen bed, and a table sat where another bed had obviously been – they hadn’t even bothered to take the headboard off the wall.

Now, I had only stopped once for gas on my eight hour drive but had gone through four 16-oz. bottles of water.  You know which room I needed in that hotel.  To my dismay, the bathroom was beyond disgusting.  No exaggeration… there was blood and other stuff on the toilet seat.  I had to go so badly by this point that my eyes were probably turning yellow, so I used my bottle of hand sanitizer to clean the seat.  With that urgent business handled, I looked in the shower.  It wasn’t the worst shower I’d seen, but I didn’t have enough hand sanitizer to be able to take a shower in that thing.

I pulled out my phone and looked up the number for the Wildlife Inn and begged for a room.  I couldn’t get out of the Safari Inn fast enough.  So here I am now, sitting in an absolutely adorable room at the Wildlife Inn done up in an African wildlife theme (the room, not me).  Check out their website: to see pictures of the rooms.  This is a family business, and I must admit to being completely charmed by them.  They’ve put a lot of hard work into this inn, and it shows.  I am so happy I left the other hotel and moved over here.

Unseen Resident #8

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on June 26, 2014 by eileenmagill

As always, if you’re new to this blog or it’s been a while, please read the previous Unseen Resident blogs since they (mostly) follow what has happened in our house in chronological order.

#1  #2  #3  #4  #5  #6  #6A  #7

October and November of 2013 were quiet months in our house with so many trapped souls having been released from the grasp of the gargoyle-like thing (see Part #6 for the details).  We had met a lot of people who were very interested in the things happening in our house, and with the relative quiet – and against my better judgment – we agreed to have some friends over to experience the paranormal.  While nothing negative happened at this investigation, it was quite interesting.

Laura Johnson joined us again along with another friend from Bay Area Ghost Hunters, David.  Long-time friends Roy and Macy were here to experience their first ghost hunt, as was one of my favorite authors and past co-president of International Thriller Writers, Kathleen Antrim.  We started out giving a tour of the house, showing everyone the EMF “hot spots” and describing where some of the more chilling events have happened.

We spent some time outside at the area where we typically have flies at all times of the year flying in circles.  Several mediums have stopped here on previous occasions and felt that this was a vortex – a rather nasty place.  This group was no different in that most sensed that something was wrong with that spot without my telling them about the opinions of the other mediums.

We got some great benign EVPs in the shed in the backyard.  For David, this was the most compelling evidence he had seen or heard.  It’s one thing to do an investigation and then hear the recordings at a later date where it could have been doctored or altered by a computer; it’s quite another thing to play back the recording immediately and hear the chilling, disembodied voices answering questions.  While it was shocking for David, Macy, Roy, and Kathleen, for Janice, Laura, and I, it was “ho-hum” in comparison to our other experiences.

The evening culminated with a very interesting experiment.  We all gathered in the workout/laundry room, and Laura set one of my flashlights down on the washing machine.  There was no one within arms distance of the flashlight.  We used a Spirit Box and other communication technology to try to engage the spirits in conversation.  The only thing that bothered me during this session was when the word “Tom” came across the box.  My son’s name is Tom, and I had a flash of worry that he was trying to communicate with me…which would mean that he was dead.  I sent him a text, and his reply confirmed that he was just fine.  Whew!  Kathleen asked if anyone (of the spirit type, that is) could turn on the flashlight.  At first I thought it was my imagination when there was the slightest flicker of light.  She encouraged it again, and the flickering was stronger.  Within a few minutes, the flashlight came on completely.  Over the next half hour, the flashlight came on and went off at our request.  It was quite eerie when every person in the room could clearly see that no one was near the light, and there was no way to turn it on/off remotely.

It was a nice evening with good paranormal evidence without anything truly scary.  The house stayed calm over the next few weeks.  We enjoyed a beautiful Thanksgiving dinner with our beloved family friend, Nylda, and the following morning, Janice left for vacation.  I was happy to have a quiet household for a while to focus on finishing up my last class for my degree in Criminal Justice.  During those 10 days, I neither felt nor heard anything paranormal – at least until the night that Janice was to return.

I had been kicking back watching TV when I realized that I was running late to go get Janice from the San Francisco airport.  I turned everything off and made a quick pit stop in the bathroom.  As usual, if there was no potential for treats, Bailey made her way to her sentinel post in my room at the window while Mulder followed me into the bathroom.  Suddenly the TV in the family room came on, blaringly loud – louder than I had been watching.  I ran out to the family room in time to see the sound systems lights go out and the power light on the TV fade as everything went silent.  Since I knew exactly where the dogs were, and the remote control was in its proper place, I had no good non-paranormal reason for the event.  Were spirits back?  And were they awaiting Janice’s return?  I was suddenly chilled and more than a bit worried about what would happen when Janice got home.

Janice made it home safely, and the night passed quietly and uneventfully, but the peace was shattered the following morning.  Janice had unpacked, had clothes in the laundry, and was relaxing watching TV in the family room.  I was in the office doing homework when there was a loud crash from the laundry area.  We both went out to the workout/laundry room and saw the trash can that sits by the dryer rolling across the floor.  The shoe rack that sits alongside the dryer was across the room about eight feet away.  I immediately tried to find a logical reason, but I kept coming back to one thing:  we’ve lived in this house for six years, and the layout of the washer/dryer and the rack and trash can have been the same throughout that time.  They have never been moved before.  That eliminated the possibility of the dryer’s vibration moving these items with enough force to send them across the room.

No sooner had we each returned to what we had been doing before the crash interrupted us than we heard another strange sound.  This time it came from Janice’s bedroom.  Janice’s cell phone had been attached to its charger on the nightstand, but now was on the other side of her bed.  The charger was still plugged into the wall.

Later that evening, we were watching TV in the family room together and heard a faint crash, once again coming from the workout/laundry room.  We both went out to investigate.  The trash can and shoe rack were in their proper places, and it wasn’t until we turned to leave the room that I noticed that the flashlight that I keep on the window sill by the side door was missing.  (For safety reasons, you all keep working flashlights at strategic places around your house, right?!)  As I approached the window, I could clearly see the outline in the dust (have I ever mentioned that I hate housekeeping?) on the sill where the flashlight normally sits.  I got down on my hands and knees and looked under the workout equipment and finally found the flashlight.  It was the same flashlight we’d used at the last investigation.  I set it back on the sill and went outside to see if there was a breeze that could have caused the light to fall.  Nothing.  It was a very calm evening.  Similar to the garbage can and shoe rack, the flashlight had sat in this location for the last six years and had never been knocked down by wind.  So what made it fall now?

We returned to the family room to continue watching our show.  Within an hour, we heard the flashlight fall again.  And just as we were heading to bed, it fell for the third time.  Was something saying hello to Janice?

Over the next few months, things were relatively quiet.  I’ve already written about what happened in May when Janice was away again, and boy do I have a story to tell you about what happened in June.  I’m waiting on some pictures, and then I’ll post some of the most intriguing evidence we’ve collected.

Sisters in Crime Spring Showcase 2014

Posted in Book Review, Stories, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 17, 2014 by eileenmagill

On Saturday, June 7, we gathered in Copperfield’s Books in San Rafael for the Spring Showcase of NorCal’s Sisters in Crime to hear nine authors read from their books that had been published in the previous six months. What a great showcase it was!

New York Times bestselling author Juliet Blackwell took to the podium first and read from her newest in the Haunted Home Series, Home for the Haunting. I’ve read other books by Juliet, and I can’t wait to get started on this next one. It sounds quite chilling!

Next up was Elin Barnes with her debut novel, Justification for Murder. She started with a gruesome scene that hooked me, completely drawing me into the story. I was leaning in to catch every word…and then…she stopped. Damn it! I have to find out what happens. Back to the cash register I go!

Camille Minichino (writing as Margaret Grace this time) always delights us with her stories. She refuses to crack open a book that has been published, and who can argue with her success. So instead of reading from Madness in Miniature, she brought us a story she’d written just for this special event. Unfortunately, she was losing her voice so she couldn’t read her story for us, but fortunately, Ann Parker was there to read to us instead. Great job!

I had never had the opportunity to hear W.H. Matlack’s work before, and I was thoroughly entertained by his reading from Noir Town. This is his debut novel, and his second, Waiting to Run, is a supernatural tale that is now out as well.

For me, the surprise of the day was Liz Jasper (EPPIE Award winning author!) and her Underdead series. She read from Underdead with a Vengeance, which is the third in the series. So what does “Underdead” mean? “Not undead, merely…underdead.” By the way, Liz strongly recommends that her books be read in order, so now I’ve got the first on Kindle and the other two on the new book shelves I had to install in my bedroom.

Gigi Pandian, one of my favorites to read, is a Malice Domestic award winner. She read from the second in her Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery series, Pirate Vishnu. One of the things I most love about her books is the scenery and exotic locations. What a marvelous job she does!

Andrew MacRae… I can say “I knew him when…” I have never before liked books with a criminal as a protagonist, but MacRae’s pickpocket The Kid stole my heart. I thoroughly enjoyed his first book, Murder Misdirected, and can’t wait to dig into the second in the series, Murder Miscalculated.

And then for something completely different, Pricilla Royal brought Covenant with Hell, the tenth in the Medieval Mystery series, which is set in 1277. She gave us a teaser, and we could all see why this story was a finalist for the Bruce Alexander Historical Mystery Award and why Publishers Weekly gave it a starred review!

Award winning author Terry Shames wrapped up the Spring Showcase with a dedication to veterans to commemorate D-Day before reading to us from the second in the Samuel Craddock series, The Last Death of Jack Harbin. I will often share the first book in a series with friends and family members to get them hooked on an author. But not with Terry’s books. Nope, I’m not letting my copy out of my hands. So back to the cash register I go to get more copies to send out.

What a great Spring Showcase this was! The turnout was terrific, as was the potluck spread. Everyone had a great time and went home with new treasures!

Prevention of Dog Attacks

Posted in Safety with tags , , , on May 29, 2014 by eileenmagill

About a year ago, one of the employees at my work was attacked by a dog as he approached the front door to notify the owner that we would be working on the power pole in the rear yard. Fortunately our employee got away without injury, but the incident made it clear that we needed to have training to avoid dog attacks. Surprisingly it was rather difficult to find someone to train our people – lots of dog trainers out there, but very few people trainers.

Last week we finally had the training, and the company that did it was spectacular. What an excellent class! Bulli-Ray was the company that did our training (, but I would like to stress that this company does not train dogs! They are an occupational dog bite safety trainer only.

Mitzi did an excellent job of explaining why dogs attack, including why they are more likely to attack when the owner is present, how to convince a dog not to attack in the first place, and what to do if the dog does attack.

Disclaimer: I’d like to point out that each dog is different; each has its own personality, fears, strengths, weaknesses, temperament, pain threshold, etc. So what I’m saying below holds for dogs in general – there will always be exceptions to the rule. Don’t shoot me for blanket statements, okay?

One of the things that surprised me – until I really thought about it and related it to past experience – was the reason that dogs are more likely to attack if the owner is around. Like most people in the class, I thought it was because the dog is being more protective. But that’s not it at all. Okay, it might have something to do with it, because my beloved Mulder would have taken down anyone who looked at me funny. The main reason, though, stems from dogs being pack animals, and their humans are part of their pack. Unless cornered or under special circumstances, dogs usually try to avoid a fight they can’t win (see disclaimer above). If they are outnumbered, they tend to back down. But if the owner is present, the dog has just doubled the size of its fighting force – you’re his backup!

Mitzi explained this concept by using a great example. Let’s say you’re a San Jose Sharks fan and you’re sitting in a bar watching a hockey game between the Sharks and the Boston Bruins. You’re the only Sharks fan sitting amongst a pack of raging Bruins fans. Will you be outspoken? Cheer your team on? Yell at the referee? Probably not. But how will your attitude change if 30 Sharks fans come into the bar and join you?

After the training was done, I remembered something that happened in my family a few years ago. Tom and Alicea were living with me at the time, and they got a new puppy. ???????????????????????Cooper is a small dog, topping the scales at around 15 pounds. When they would take him for a walk, he was skittish, afraid of everything and everyone. A car passing on the road would send him diving into the bushes. Then one day their walk coincided with my taking Mulder out. Mulder was a chow/shep mix, a very dominant alpha male. Little Cooper fell into step beside him and seemed to prance the whole way. His tail was up, his head was up, and he looked like the grand dog he has since become. He was with his pack, and he knew that he had nothing to fear with Mulder by his side. Heck, I knew that I had nothing to fear with him protecting me.Mulder's Tongue

I can honestly say that this class was one of the best I’ve ever taken. I learned more in those two hours that will affect my entire life than courses that take months to complete. Thank you Bulli Ray!

Unseen Resident Part 7

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on May 20, 2014 by eileenmagill

I’ve mentioned before that the activity in the house seems to settle down quite a bit when Janice is away.  This trip for her is no exception.  As I was sitting on the porch last evening, I was finding it easy once again to write about what’s been happening here.  But while it’s easier, details have slipped away from me.  So before I forget, I’m going to talk about what happened last week.  Sorry for jumping out of order here…


Janice has been away pet sitting.  She was gone for a few days, returned over the weekend for a class, and then left again.  During those first few days she was gone, I felt nothing paranormal in the house.  I set up the Rem-Pod in a few places in the house, including her room, and got absolutely nothing.


When she returned home, the activity started back up.  She put the Rem-Pod on her bed, and it beeped fairly consistently.  She went around the house with the EMF detector and got high readings throughout, where just days before I’d gotten zilch.  One area that had a high reading was in the bathroom.  Under the bathroom mirror has been a hot spot in the past, and we’ve had some pretty good videos of “orbs” around that mirror.  (I don’t want to post those videos because I am not 100% certain that all of the anomalies on the videos are orbs and not just dust particles.)  We’ve never had the Rem-Pod beep at us in the bathroom, but this time it did.


On Monday, Janice left again, and I put the Rem-Pod out in various locations throughout the house.  Once again, nothing.  Then just before I went to bed, I was organizing things in my room.  I moved a bunch of stuff from my dresser to the floor by the closet to make room for tools that I was using to hang pictures.  As I was drifting off to sleep, a loud POP woke me up, and little Flynn jumped up in alert.  His body was rigid, and his attention was focused on the floor by my closet.  I turned the light on, but didn’t notice anything unusual.


The next morning I woke up with a bad headache and the body ache that tells me a fever is coming.  After calling in sick, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to continue the work on my room.  I went to retrieve one of the bottles of water that I’d moved to the floor, but it wasn’t there.  I thought back to the night before and could clearly picture it in my head where I’d put the bottle.  Thinking that perhaps Flynn or Bailey had decided to play with the plastic bottle, I searched around the house.  No water bottle.


Was that the POP both Flynn and I heard?


Out of curiosity, I got the Rem-Pod back out and set it on the floor where the bottle had been and crawled back into bed.  Nothing woke my slumber.  Later in the morning, the fever hit with a vengeance.  I didn’t have anything to take for it, so I decided to go to the drug store.  Before walking out the door, I put the Rem-Pod on Janice’s bed.  It stayed silent.  I shrugged and left.


Once I was out of the house and getting fresh air, I felt a tiny bit better.  So after taking some meds, I ate my lunch at a nearby park until it got too hot.  When I came in from the garage, I could hear a buzzing.  Granted, my head was foggy with the fever, but it took me until I was going down the hall to the bedrooms before I realized what the buzzing was.  The Rem-Pod was squealing.  I’d forgotten that I’d left it on.


I videoed the room so you can see what I saw.  There is nothing with power near the Rem-Pod; the lights are not on, and the A/C had not yet kicked on.


Clearly, I was not alone.  I’m still waiting for my water bottle to reappear.

Unseen Resident Part 6A

Posted in Bay Area Ghost Hunters, Ghost Hunting, Hauntings, Paranormal, Stories, True Story on May 16, 2014 by eileenmagill

In my last post, I neglected to mention a very important – and scary – detail. I can’t even fathom how I left this off – it goes back to what I was saying about something preventing me from writing about this. We also had another investigation done at the house in November. For someone who is accustomed to dealing with details, it is disturbing to me that I would neglect to put these points in here. Heck, these aren’t even just details – they’re major events. I’ll get the two written up right away…

And as always, if you’ve just started reading these blogs about my house, I’d recommend that you read the others first:
Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Two days before the team came to do the clearing on the house, Janice woke up with scratches on her arm. Three parallel lines. They weren’t deep, but had caused some bleeding and scabbing.

I immediately started looking for a logical explanation. I compared the scratches to her other hand. We tried to position her fingers in such a way that she could have scratched herself. We couldn’t do it without a great deal of contorting. I suppose she could have done one scratch at a time, but that seems extremely unlikely. The scratches were too far apart to be from the paws (or teeth) of either of the dogs, and I couldn’t find anything in her room or the rest of the house that could have caused three scratches.

After the clearing team arrived at the house and conducted their inspection, we all sat by Janice and inspected her arm. The situation became even stranger. The marks were almost gone and were only faintly visible.


Janice is not known for her quick healing, so we were baffled by the disappearance of the lines. Nevertheless, the mediums, by resting their hands near Janice’s arm, could feel that something had marked her and was drawing on her energy through these marks. In their own words they described the thing that Janice had seen in her room. The gargoyle-ish being.

It took the joint effort of all of the mediums to severe the connection the entity had with Janice. Again, I can’t explain how they did it, but they pointed out that the connection had to be broken for the clearing to work. As I watched, I was taken by the pained expression on my sister’s face. I’m not used to seeing fear in her eyes, but it was unmistakable. As the mediums joined their energies and placed their hands above her arm, the fear intensified. The look of fear was mixed with pain. Seeing that look on her face tore at my heart. You’re hurting her! It took every ounce of restraint not to interfere.

The process only lasted two to three minutes, but to me it felt like at least a half hour. I couldn’t feel any difference in the house, but I could see relief in my sister’s eyes. With the connection broken, we were then able to move on to destroying the entity.

Shortly after this event, Janice and I were visiting with some ghost-hunting friends who quite literally begged us to let them investigate a “real” haunted house. With Kathleen having passed so many souls over and the gargoyle thing gone, I figured that there wouldn’t be much, if any, activity for them to see, so against my better judgment, I agreed. It was an interesting night.

Emergency Preparedness

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on April 4, 2014 by eileenmagill

April is Earthquake Awareness Month in California, which is rather fitting – if chilling – considering the devastation that Chile is experiencing right now with multiple massive quakes hitting their county.  Going back years before the Loma Prieta Quake of 1989, I’d kept a complete earthquake preparedness kit.  I have been asked by family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors to share the list of things that I keep in my kit. (And after the 89 quake, I was asked to share the actual contents because I was the only one in my entire apartment complex that had any sort of preparation at all.)  Please note that my kit is very extensive and is probably more inclusive than most people need.  However, look over the list and think about how each of these items could be used for more than one purpose.


I have two types of kits:  my “go bag” and the main stay-at-home kit.  The “go bag” is a backpack with basic supplies such as nuts, a couple bottles of water, a first aid kit, an old pair of walking shoes, and a sweater.  This type of bag is kept either in my car or my work office and is only designed to get me home if I’m away.


For my main kit, the bulk of my supplies are kept in a large green garbage bin that is on wheels.  It is kept in a lean-to in the backyard where it protected from the elements but can be accessed even if there is a structural collapse.  Other items, such as cases of water, are kept separate (also in the lean-to), but they are on wheeled dollies.  Keeping your supplies on wheels is an important aspect of safety so that your kit can be mobile should your home become unsafe.


The items can be broken up into several categories:

  • First Aid & Medications
  • Personal Protective Equipment
  • Tools & Search/Rescue
  • Food & Sundries
  • Comfort
  • Miscellaneous
  • Pet supplies


First Aid & Medications

In the event of a large-scale emergency, such as an earthquake, citizens must be prepared to be on their own for several days, perhaps a week or more.  Because of this, it is imperative that the first aid kit be well-stocked for significant injuries like broken bones.

            Multiple pairs of gloves (preferably non-latex)

            Biohazard bag

            Hand wipes

            Antibiotic and/or antiseptic (Bactine, etc.)

            Various sizes/types of adhesive bandages (fingertip, knuckle, standard 1″ etc)

            First aid tape or “paper tape” medical tape (non-latex)

            Absorbent compresses (note: feminine menstrual pads are excellent for this)

            Gauze pads

            Gauze rolls

            Rolled wire splints Image

            Triangular bandage and/or sling

            Self-adherent bandage Image




            Pain killers

            Prescription medications

            Comfort medications like Gas-X and antacid

            Glasses (got an old pair of glasses? don’t toss them, put them in your kit in case your new ones get damaged or lost – it happens during disasters!!)



Personal Protective Equipment

If there is widespread damage – or even just serious damage within your own home – you may need to go into places that are somewhat unsafe.  Protect yourself!


            Safety glasses

            Safety vests (reflective)

            Work gloves, preferably puncture/cut resistant

            Knee pads

            Dust masks


            Work boots


Toolbox & Search and Rescue

This group of items is highly customizable.  In my case, I expect to do search and rescue, but others may not have that training.  However, many of the items – like tarps and plastic sheeting – may be critical to making your home weather-resistant or setting up a temporary shelter.

            Fire Axe

            Crow bar


            Nails/screws/masonry nails



            Utility knife with extra blades



            Bungee cords (sooooo many uses for these!!)

            Plastic sheeting


            Chalk (marking buildings that have been searched)

            Flashlights (plus batteries – do not install the batteries!)

            Flashers for signaling

            Duct Tape


            Waterproof matches



Food & Sundries

Most people think about putting food in their kits, but what should you use?  Look for foods that have long shelf-life, minimal cooking needs (macaroni and cheese might be yummy, but do you have milk?), and no extra ingredients.  Remember that you will need to clean everything up, too.  Do you have a BBQ?  Enough propane or charcoal?  Matches, if needed?

            Eating utensils, plates, cups

            Purel or other waterless cleaning agent

            Pots & pans – this depends on the type of food you have in your kit.  Also useful for collecting rainwater

            Nuts – fantastic source of protein

            Canned food or other packaged food with long shelf-life

            Can opener!

            Candy, bubblegum, or other comfort food

            Water, water, water




            Toothbrushes, paste, floss, mouthwash


            Deodorant (for goodness sake, do not forget to put deodorant in your kit!)

            Toilet paper

            Paper towels

            Bucket and toilet seat (yes, you can make your own throne!)

            Plastic bags for the homemade toilet

            Games – board games, cards, etc.  No TV or computers…may be rather boring.

            Bug spray

            Bandanas, hats, extra clothes

            Inflatable pillows




            Marking pen & paper 

            Radio (and batteries – do not install the batteries!)

            Pup tent

            Cash – without power and/or cell phones, the only way to pay for supplies may be cash

            Alcohol (may be useful as a comfort item – or, in my case, as a bartering tool)

            Disposable camera (insurance claims, anyone?)


Pet Supplies

Do not forget your pets!  They will be highly agitated and confused.  By having toys and their special food, you can help them calm down and be an asset.

            Pet food

            Collars / leashes



            Water, water, water


Many items on this list are perishable: batteries, food, medications.  On the outside of my main kit, I have an inventory of perishable items, including expiration dates.  The list is in a zip lock bag that is taped to the side of the kit so I can see at a glance when dates are coming due.  We also have a schedule of when we go through the kit to replace perishable items and check the stock.


For those with fluctuating weight and/or children, it is important to remember that clothing sizes may have changed and spare clothes should be adjusted.


To prevent bugs from getting into the kit – and to be able to tell if anyone has taken any supplies out – I use duct tape to seal the entire circumference of the lid to the bin (like an evidence seal, lol).


Even if you feel that you do not need a large earthquake/disaster preparedness kit, please consider the concept of a “go bag.”  I am fortunate to work only a few miles from my home, but if roads (over and underpasses) collapsed, it could be a very difficult trip home wearing a dress and heels.  (Having a pair of walking shoes would be important.)  Even a short a distance could take hours.  Think about the route you take to and from work/school.  Look at the number of bridges you cross.  Consider what buildings might collapse and block the road.  Vehicles may get stuck and roads become impassible.  How would you walk home?


Think about it…and then do something about it.  Your family’s well-being might depend on you taking a few minutes to be prepared.


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