Earthquakes can happen at any time, so for those in earthquake-prone areas, preparedness should be maintained on an ongoing basis. A readily-accessible earthquake survival kit is essential, but so is keeping it up-to-date with fresh supplies. Your kit should be large, sturdy and situated off the floor in a secure location with a cool temperature. Make replenishing your earthquake survival kit a twice-yearly habit that coincides with holidays, birthdays, time changes or another easily remembered schedule, and make sure it includes these 10 must-haves.
Water – A one-week supply of water for all household members, including pets, is an earthquake survival kit essential. The standard rule of thumb is one gallon of water per day for each individual. This will provide ample water for drinking, cleaning and rudimentary hygiene if you are stranded or without services after the earthquake takes place.
Food – A one-week’s supply of food is also a must. Once the sole purview of the military, MREs, or meals ready to eat, are now widely available to the general public and a good choice for an earthquake survival kit because of their shelf life, compact size and nutritional value. MREs typically last between three to five years if stored according to package directions. Freeze-dried and dehydrated bulk food are also good options as are many of the standard food stuffs like canned goods you may typically have on hand, such as peanut butter, tuna fish, canned vegetables and sardines. If you have a baby or toddler, include an ample supply of pre-packaged, individualized servings of sterilized formula and a variety of jarred baby food stored in padding to avoid breakage. Don’t forget to include dried or canned pet food.
Utensils and Home Supplies – Can openers, cooking supplies, mess kits and Swiss Army knives are an essential part of any earthquake preparedness kit. You should also have a one-week supply of disposable utensils and paper goods, such as:
- Knives, forks and spoons
- Napkins, toilet paper and paper towels
- Paper cups for hot and cold beverages
- Two kinds of wet wipes, those designed for personal use and those containing bleach for home-cleaning purposes
- Matches in a waterproof pouch or other fire starter such as a flint rod
- Garbage bags
- Personal hygiene items, such as sanitary napkins, tampons, diapers and soap
- Oral hygiene supplies, including toothbrushes, toothpaste and dental floss
- Dish soap, detergent and steel wool
Water Purifier Tablets and Chlorine Bleach – If the water supply becomes contaminated as a result of the earthquake, or if you opt to use a water supply you are unsure of such as a lake or river, water purifier tablets will eliminate most, though not necessarily all types of bacteria. Plain, unscented chlorine bleach with no added cleaners can also disinfect water when 16 drops are added to one gallon. Have a sterilized eye dropper stored and available with the bleach for this purpose. Neither system will eliminate salt from ocean water, which should never be ingested.
Medications and Medical Supplies – A one-week’s supply of the prescription and over-the-counter medications needed by every household member should be stored in sealed, waterproof pouches. Keep an eye on expiration dates and swap out anything that is approaching its end date. Extra pairs of prescription eye glasses should also be included in your earthquake survival kit as well as any life-saving equipment needed, such as nebulizers. A well-stocked first aid kit stocked with antibacterial swabs, lotion bandages and band aids is also a must.
Fire Extinguisher and Tools – Wrenches to turn off the gas, water and power lines, rope, screw drivers, hammers and a crowbar and ax may come in handy. Have an extra fire extinguisher specifically stored for earthquake emergency purposes.
Cash or Traveler’s Checks – An earthquake may temporarily eliminate or disrupt ATM service, particularly if there is a full-scale power outage. If possible, have enough cash or traveler’s checks on hand to buy gas or added supplies as needed. The standard rule of thumb is $500 to $1,000.
Flashlight and Radio with Extra Batteries – The ability to maintain light and communication after an earthquake is a must. Cell phone and internet service may become spotty during or after an earthquake of any size, so information backup is essential. Keep the right-sized batteries in ample supply in a cool, dry and airtight space.
Blankets and Sleeping Bags – A warm, clean supply of blankets and pillows or sleeping bags for each family member may be needed if your home sustains injury from the earthquake or if you need to evacuate.
Clothing and Towels – Have two to three changes of seasonal clothing on hand for each household member and include rain parkas, sturdy, waterproof boots or shoes and undies as well as one towel per person.
Corey Whelan is a freelance writer in New York. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.
To learn more, visit CBS San Francisco’s Earthquake Resource Center