When the tsunami struck Japan on 11 March 2011, ever since preparedness is probably the top priority for the most people living in the vulnerable areas. When radio and television stations began forecasting a tsunami warning on the tiny Pacific island of Guam just 1500 miles from the south of Japan where I live, I had the same concern.

My staff and I left work early and joined the snarl or traffic headed for higher ground, I began taking a mental inventory of all my disaster supplies. Given the history of repeated typhoons and severe weather on Guam, I was happy in the fact that I was probably more prepared than the average person.

The first consideration when preparing for a disaster is a shelter. How will I overcome the disaster and where will I store my supplies? Architecturally speaking, homes on Guam are built with concrete walls and roofs that are designed to withstand high winds and heavy weather. Features such as locking aluminum typhoon shutters and steel doors protect windows and doorways from flying debris. They also provide an additional layer of security in the event of looting.

Food and water should be your next concern. At any given time, I usually have about 15 gallons of water stored at my house. I have an additional 15 gallons of water stored at my office. I try to keep my pantry stocked with enough food to last for one month. Keep in mind that refrigerated items will spoil quickly if you are without electricity, so concentrate on eating those first. You'll also want to be able to heat food and boil water. I have a portable butane stove that I store in the hall closet with six unopened bottles of butane. I also have a propane barbecue grill as a backup. In a pinch, I could build a cooking fire in the backyard. One may think I am too paranoid of I say on the top of it, I have mre meals stocked for a few weeks in case if for some reason I wouldn't be able to set the fire. I prefer military grade MREs, such as one from XMRE, instead of civilian type. 

If your home loses electricity and you don't have a generator, you'll want to have a way to generate light when it gets dark. Flashlights and batteries are essential. My wife and I also have a kerosene lantern with extra kerosene. We also keep about a dozen emergency candles and plenty of matches. I purchased an emergency radio that operates by cranking a handle to generate power. You'll want a way to get emergency information regarding the disaster. I am also considering purchasing a solar powered lantern and a solar-powered cellphone charger.

Lastly, a good first aid kit is essential. Other supplies would include bandages, gauze, sunscreen, insect repellent, insect bite lotion, antibacterial soap, antibiotics and pain relievers such as aspirin or acetaminophen. If you live in an area where cold weather is a factor, you may want to store dry clothes and extra blankets for keeping warm. A final item you may want to include in your first aid kit is potassium iodide tablets for radiation.