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Earthquake Preparedness: Creating a Survival Kit

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  • Earthquake Preparedness: Creating a Survival Kit

    Both FEMA and the Red Cross recommend that every family in the United States be fully prepared for any major natural or unnatural disaster, including an earthquake, by creating a survival kit. Every emergency preparedness kit should include essential items that can support the basic needs of every family member until assistance arrives.

    With nearly everyone in the United States living in an earthquake zone, being fully equipped with an emergency earthquake kit will reduce the peril from the natural disaster experienced by the family. Every disaster preparedness kit will contain water, an essential emergency food supply, first aid kit, and other critical items.

    Creating a disaster preparedness kit to be fully equipped during an earthquake event could be exactly what you need to save lives, including your own. According to FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency), it is crucial to develop a plan well in advance of any potential emergency that could happen in your community. Part of their recommendations includes building a survival kit to be fully prepared for any disaster, including a devastating tremor. These emergency kits will contain most every item likely needed to survive the disaster.

    Over the last decade, the Earth has experienced higher levels of seismological activity – earthquakes. With a recorded half million quakes happening around the world each year, only about 1/5 can be sensed by humans, and only about 100 of those causing significant damage. Southern California alone has approximately 10,000 earthquakes every 12 months, with a high majority of them never felt by individuals.

    Oftentimes, mild and severe quakes will occur naturally without any warning. To ensure your family remains safe, it is important to gather together an emergency food supply, including MRE kits (meals ready to eat), as part of an earthquake preparedness kit. The movement or shaking of the ground is seldom the reason anyone is ever injured or dies. Most likely, the high majority of casualties from a quake are a result of falling debris or objects, along with completely/partially collapsed buildings including falling fixtures, plaster, bricks and chimneys.

    Creating a Disaster Preparedness Kit

    Laying out your survival kit

    Putting together an disaster preparedness kit is a simple process. The (survival kits) contain basic household items that will be necessary in the event of a disaster or emergency. Because mandatory evacuation will likely arrive unexpectedly, it will be important to have quick access and easy portability of all your basic necessities, including your emergency food supply, stored close at hand.


    FEMA offers their recommendations of all the necessary supplies to create a well-stocked emergency preparedness kit, filled with the best disaster items, including an emergency food supply, for every natural disaster. The emergency kits should include the following.
    • Plenty of Water – All survival kits should supply each person in the party with enough water (1 gallon each day for three days) to be used for drinking and their hygiene (sanitation).
    • Non-Perishable Food – Each person in the party will need enough non-perishable foods as part of their emergency food supply, especially meals-ready-to-eat (MRE kits), to last three days.
    • First Aid Kit – A well-stocked first aid kit is an essential part of every disaster preparedness kit.
    • Flashlight – All emergency kits need to contain a bright flashlight, such as a Maglite, with additional batteries.
    • NOAA Weather Radio – Having access to the NOAA weather station will provide all detailed information on the natural disaster concerning the weather and other climate conditions.
    • Battery-Powered Radio – Having either a battery-powered radio (with extra batteries), or one that operates with a hand crank can keep you up-to-date with news concerning the disaster in your community. Local stations on your emergency radio or TV broadcast will provide details on where to find an additional emergency food supply once the Red Cross, FEMA and other agencies arrive to provide assistance, medical care, and much needed items.
    • Garbage Bags – The supply of garbage bags, with plastic ties, should be included in your disaster preparedness kit, along with moist towelettes, to help control personal sanitation.
    • Whistle – With a loud or noisy whistle, you and family members can continually produce a signal for help until assistance arrives.
    • Can Opener (manual) – Because most of your non-perishable emergency food supply will be stored in cans, it is essential to have a manual can opener in your earthquake preparedness kit.
    • Maps – Part of your shareable family emergency management plan should include quick access to local maps stored in your earthquake preparedness kit. The maps will help your party move to a new location to find assistance from FEMA, Red Cross, and other government agencies providing medical care, water, emergency food supply and personal items. Keep in mind that GPS usage may be spotty during disasters, and batteries may be hard to find, so having paper maps would be helpful too.
    • Mobile Phones – Keeping a second mobile phone charger, solar charger or inverter in your earthquake preparedness kit will allow you to maintain contact with the outside world long after your battery has run out.
    • Tools – While building a selection of tools for your earthquake kit, remember that a pair of pliers or a wrench may allow you to turn off your utilities at your home.
    • Dust Masks – Every member of your party wearing a dust mask will be able to filter out any harmful, contaminated air. Your earthquake kit should contain enough masks for everybody along with duct tape and plastic sheeting to create a shelter.
    Have on Hand

    Every family has special requirements for living their daily lives. Be sure to include in your survival kits the specific basic necessities your family requires that they cannot live without. The items in the earthquake preparedness kit might include:
    • Medications
    • An extra pair of eyeglasses/sunglasses
    • Solution for contact lenses
    • Batteries for hearing aids
    • Infant supplies (diapers, pacifiers, bottles and formula)
    • Hygiene supplies (additional toilet paper, moist towelettes, etc.)
    • Cash (ATMs are not always available after a disaster to use credit/debit cards)
    • Important documents (identification, financial records, insurance policies, etc.)
    • Pet readiness items (pet food, veterinary records, leash, pet carrier, etc.)
    • Pet shelter information and directions
    An Earthquake Safety Checklist

    Staying alive during an earthshaking event requires having a survival plan, and an earthquake preparedness kit. All survival plans should include a safety checklist for natural disasters including earth tremors. According to the Red Cross, nearly every state in the union is at considerable risk of experiencing earthquakes. Their safety checklist (PDF) includes three components in learning how to prepare for an event, how to keep protected when an earthquake happens, and a list of things to do once the earthquake has subsided. The safety checklist includes:
    • Evacuation – Look for fire evacuation plans in your building.
    • Finding a Safe Place – Choose a safe area in every room at school, work and home.
    • Avoiding Windows If Indoors – Staying away from windows will prevent harm from shattered glass.
    • Avoiding Dangerous Elements of Outdoors – Trees can fall, buildings collapse, and power lines snap. Avoid every dangerous element outside.
    • Prepare for Aftershocks – Aftershocks are natural occurrences that typically ensue within minutes or days after the initial (earthquake).
    • Help Those That Need Attention – If possible, provide assistance to everyone that requires special needs care after the (earthquake) and aftershocks.
    Once an earthquake hits, it is essential to keep away from any potential hazard including small fires, downed power lines, broken water lines, or escaping gas from broken pipes. Avoid spilled fluids, flammable liquids and other harmful contaminants. It is critical to only use your vehicle in an emergency and always prepare you and your family with a well-stocked disaster preparedness kit for the expected aftershocks that will follow the major disaster.
    Last edited by labatt; 08-10-2014, 01:44 PM.
    januz101 and troutski like this.
    Live your dream, don't dream your life.
    Chris L-S, CEO/Owner/Administrator, Disaster.Com

  • #2
    Awesome article, Chris. Great read! I'm still working on mine, but I doubt I can top this piece. I've only had to deal with small tremors (mostly) here in Los Angeles and San Diego. Plus, I was just a baby during the Northridge quake in LA back in 1993, but that one was pretty big, I know that much.


    • #3
      Thank you for sharing this helpful post, I only had one minor earthquake experience, and I was only in pre-school that time. Luckily no damage was done, only minor shaking on the ground. I will keep this in mind when forming my 1st aid kit.


      • #4
        This is a very informative and interesting read. I live in Mississippi and have never experienced an earthquake, but I know we are way over due for one.


        • #5
          This is an amazing article, Cris! Keep up the good work and you will have an awesome disaster website! Have you thought about posting this article on the front page and moving the forums to a separate tab?


          • #6
            There aren't enough articles to really do that yet... but at some point, when we can get a regular group of volunteers writing articles, I'll be looking to make that change. That's why the forums live at /forums right now - as opposed to the root.
            Live your dream, don't dream your life.
            Chris L-S, CEO/Owner/Administrator, Disaster.Com


            • #7
              Earthquake kit

              Much of the earthquake kit contents should be kept readily available from the outside of the house, or actually stored outside. Building damage can result in the inability to get back inside to gather the kit if it is not right at the doors or windows. And sometimes even then it will not be possible. So having a small shed, or even a large ‘dog house’ in which the gear can be kept should be considered. (Except for the camping gear, this gear is in addition to your BOBs, BIBs, INCH kits, etc.)

              A utilities emergency shut off kit (kept outside in an easy to recover spot) with:
              Shutoff location card/check list w/ attached pen
              Leather gloves
              Rubber gloves
              4 white light sticks
              Gas meter tool/wrench
              Water meter or curb shutoff tool/wrench
              Water meter lid lifter
              Curb shutoff lid lifter

              Personal kits (there should be two of these per person with one kept by the bedside, the other outside) with:
              Biking helmet
              Goggles or swim goggles
              Dust masks
              Signal mirror
              Light sticks
              Water bottles

              A basic or better camping kit with:
              Sleeping bags w/sleep pads
              Chemical toilet w/chemical and TP
              Toilet/shower enclosure
              Use LED light fixtures and keep plenty of batteries available
              Cooking stove with fuel
              Have a shovel available to dig a latrine if needed, or to bury the waste from the chemical toilet
              Other camping gear to set up a temporary camp on the property or nearby park.

              Have a good first aid kit that includes trauma needs, as well as minor needs
              Have at least one crank-up/solar power NOAA weather alert radio with AM/FM and shortwave bands
              Store as much water as possible. Some of it should be in easily handled containers of 5-gallons or less
              Store at least one water purification unit, and several water filters
              Have a means to carry water from a distant source back home
              Store easy to prepare food, with at least some that does not require any cooking at all
              Store plenty of light sticks and rotate them occasionally. Until the danger of natural gas or propane leaks is well past, do not use open flames, or electrical lighting that can ignite the gasses.

              Good to have:
              At least one mountain bike for transport to and from information centers, water/food distribution points, checking on family and friends, etc.

              Just a few ideas off the top of my head.

              Jerry D Young

              Prepare for the worst and hope for the best and always remember TANSTAAFL
              (There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch - Robert A Heinlein)


              • #8
                Originally posted by labatt View Post
                There aren't enough articles to really do that yet... but at some point, when we can get a regular group of volunteers writing articles, I'll be looking to make that change. That's why the forums live at /forums right now - as opposed to the root.

                That's understandable. I'm sure you have plenty of ideas on how to transform this website and make it even better, you just need more people to cooperate. I hope you find them, I'm sure you will!


                • #9
                  One thing I should have mentioned, having lived in Senath, Missouri for many years, which is right on top of the main fault complex of the New Madrid Seismic Zone, is the possible need for a life jacket and some type of floating platform or boat in case of ground liquefaction or flooding caused by the earthquakes in that area. There are several other areas in the same boat (so to speak), such as the Carolinas where liquefaction and/or flooding can be a factor. Also, in these areas, where water courses abound, getting around without the benefit of bridges over them is going to require waterborne transport.

                  Just my opinion.
                  Jerry D Young

                  Prepare for the worst and hope for the best and always remember TANSTAAFL
                  (There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch - Robert A Heinlein)


                  • #10
                    We actually have a fairly large sailboat we lived aboard for a few years, and it's (unfortunately), now, north of New York City. It's our escape plan if the world goes to *bleep*, but it might prove to be difficult to get down the river if bridges collapse, or there's an event around the city.
                    Live your dream, don't dream your life.
                    Chris L-S, CEO/Owner/Administrator, Disaster.Com


                    • #11
                      These are really rich source of information on earthquake preparedness. I didn't think it required so much. People and governments would only act after the fact but never before, which is kind of lame. Hopefully this gets much attention especially here in the third world where I am from.


                      • #12
                        Thank you for this very informative article. I grew up in Mexico City where earthquakes are very common. Sadly, not too many people are well prepared there. More information like this needs to be disseminated, especially among those that live in poverty, who are the ones that always get affected the most. I was there during the 1985 big quake of magnitude 8.1 - quite frightening. The next day I volunteered at the Red Cross and it was shocking to realize what had happened in just a few seconds.


                        • #13
                          Those are really useful tips, but I have to take issue with the statement "Over the last decade, the Earth has experienced higher levels of seismological activity – earthquakes. " If you look at the historical occurrences of earthquakes, we are not experiencing significantly more than any other time in history. We are experiencing more deaths and more destruction of property, but this is due to very human causes. Namely, we are populating more areas, and our population density continues to grow. The same earthquake hitting the same location two hundred years ago versus today can have very different consequences, as we have built more structures, larger structures, and there are more people per square miles.

                          This still means the same thing as what you're suggesting: it's vital to prepare adequately.


                          • #14
                            You are right, CooCat! there are *MANY* earthquakes every day, and always have been. However, labatt may have been hinting at the possible link between fracking and new earthquake activity, maybe?

                            Just for fun, here's a list of all the earthquakes today:
                            The theory of evolution, like the theory of gravity, is a scientific fact. ~ Neil Degrasse Tyson


                            • #15
                              While it is true that we have always had earthquakes down through the ages, and may not be having more of them than before, it does at least seem like we are having more of the stronger quakes than ever before.
                              Some of the earthquake graphs for different areas show a huge uptick in the magnitudes of earthquakes in that area.
                              Volcanoes are also more active than ever before. as with earthquakes, we have always had active volcanoes; but now we have more of them active at once that we have had in times past.

                              Last edited by Tumbleweed; 09-02-2014, 06:22 PM.