In 2015, the small country of Nepal was hit by not just one earthquake, but TWO earthquakes. More than 9,000 people were killed and even more were injured from these quakes. Millions were left without power and basic sanitary functions, and they still continue to suffer in the aftermath. This is tragic but, as someone living in the United States, it is easy to ignore the implications of these earthquakes. Nepal is a poor, underdeveloped country and it not surprising that the natural disaster turned into such a major ongoing crisis.
But the United States is NOT immune!
According to the United States Geological Society, Los Angeles (which sits on the San Andreas fault line) has a 7% chance of experiencing a 7.8 magnitude earthquake by 2038. An earthquake of this magnitude would leave a projected 1,800 dead, 50 thousand injured, and cause more than $200 billion in damages. And that is with all of the earthquake precautions we have in place, such as reinforcing buildings.
There is nothing we can do to prevent an earthquake from occurring. But we can take steps to prepare for a disaster. One of the most important things is to build an earthquake preparedness kit.
What is an Earthquake Preparedness Kit?
There are three types of earthquake preparedness kits you will need:
- Home earthquake preparedness kit
- Car earthquake preparedness kit
- Evacuation earthquake preparedness kit
Here we will go over what supplies you need to include in each of them to help you survive an earthquake.
1. Home Earthquake Preparedness Kit
If you are indoors when the earthquake hits, then you need to STAY indoors. Please read the CDC guide about indoor earthquake safety steps.
After an earthquake, you may be left without electricity, plumbing, and telephone communication for days or even weeks. There may be injuries which need to be treated, and there could be many risks about you from broken glass or broken building structures. To survive, you will need:
- Fire Extinguisher: Do I need to explain this one?
- Water: Aim to have 1 gallon of water per person for at least 2 weeks
- Emergency Food: Stockpile nonperishable foods which do not require any cooking. You can also read our article about off-grid cooking methods.
- First Aid: Read this article about what to pack in your first aid kit
- Debris Removal Items: Shovel, ax, broom, and heavy-duty work gloves
- Hygiene Items: This includes toilet paper, soap, and female hygiene products. Baby wipes are great for cleaning yourself when you cannot take a shower. Remember that the plumbing probably won’t be working, meaning NO TOILET! You can put a toilet seat on a bucket and use it for a toilet. Have lots of plastic bags for lining the bucket toilet!!!
- Plastic sheeting and duct tape: This can be used for sealing off broken windows or temporarily fixing collapsed roofs
- Tools: You will need pliers, a hammer, a screwdriver, and an adjustable wrench. These may be needed for tasks like turning off plumbing fixtures, putting doors back on hinges, etc.
- Emergency Lighting: Choose a good flashlight or use chemical lightsticks. DO NOT USE CANDLES because gas leaks are common during earthquakes. Lighting the candle could set your entire house on fire.
- Emergency shelter: In case your home structures are unstable, you will want to have a tent and sleeping bags. You can sleep in your yard or at another secure location.
- Radio: You will need the radio for updates about the earthquake and rescue. Make sure to have spare batteries for the radio.
- Recreation: Stock some books (the paper kind; your Kindle isn’t going to work for long without electricity!), playing cards, and other entertainment to help you stay sane during the emergency.
2. Car Earthquake Preparedness Kit
If an earthquake strikes while you are driving, slow down and find a spot to pull over. Park away from overpasses, power lines, large buildings, and bridges. Stay in your car with the seat belt fastened until the earth quake is over. Depending on the extent of the damage, you may be able to drive after the earthquake. To help you cope with the aftermath, have these items in your car earthquake kit:
- Car fire extinguisher
- First aid kit
- Tent and sleeping bag
- Battery-powered radio + extra batteries
- Bottled water
- Emergency food
- Change of clothes
- Sneakers or boots (do you want to walk through the rubble in high heels or loafers?)
- Map of the area + compass (don’t count on your smartphone or GPS working!)
3. Evacuation Earthquake Preparedness Kit
Hopefully you won’t ever need to use this kit, but you will definitely want to have it ready in case you need to GO.
Note that, after most disasters, the local government does respond by opening shelters for people who had to evacuate their homes. In a large-scale disaster though, these shelters can be very underequipped (think Katrina). So it is good to have your own supplies instead of relying on FEMA to provide for you. Please read our post about Bug Out Bags to learn more about packing for survival situations.
- Water filter or water purification tablets
- Emergency food
- Spare change of clothes
- Rain jacket or poncho
- Plastic tarp (can be used to gather water, make a survival shelter, and much more)
- Paracord (also has many uses, ranging from fixing a broken shoelace to aiding in a rescue mission)
- Sleeping bags
- First aid kit plus personal medications, prescription list, copies of medical cards, and contact information for your doctor
- Fire starter (waterproof matches)
- Portable radio
- Multi-tool (such as a Leatherman)
- Dust mask (N95)
- Hygiene items: toilet paper, female hygiene items, baby wipes, soap
- Whistle: for signaling to rescue workers; 1 per family member
- Cell phone charger
- Emergency cash (don’t count on ATMs working!)
- Phone numbers, addresses, and contact info (written – your cell phone might not work!)
- Copies of vital documents
Do you have an earthquake survival kit? What is in yours? Let us know in the comments.