BEFORE THE EARTHQUAKE
You may need to survive on your own after an emergency. This means having your own food, water and other supplies in sufficient quantity to last for at least two weeks. Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster but they cannot reach everyone immediately. You could get help in hours or it might take days.
Additionally, basic services such as electricity, gas, water, sewage treatment and telephones may be cut off for days, weeks, or longer. Your supplies kit should contain items to help you manage during these outages.
Chances are two out of three that you’ll be at home when the next big earthquake strikes, and one out of three that you’ll be in bed. So, preparing your home for an earthquake is important, but you need to be ready at work and on the road as well.
list household inventory
- Create a list/photographs of contents in every room. You will need this to file insurance claims in the case that some of your belongings are damaged.
Gather important information/documents
- telephone numbers
- medical information
- birth certificates
- ownership certificates
- social security cards
- insurance policies, wills.
Learn how to survive during the ground motion. Most earthquakes are over in seconds, so knowing what to do instinctively is very important.
Teach all members of your family about earthquake safety. This includes: 1) the actions you should take when an earthquake occurs, 2) the safe places in a room such as under a strong desk or along interior walls, and 3) places to avoid such as near windows, large mirrors, hanging objects, heavy furniture, and fireplaces.
Create a family emergency communication plan. It's important to have everyone in your family in agreement on what to do in the case of an earthquake. Communication networks, such as mobile phones and computers, could be unreliable during disasters, and electricity could be disrupted. Planning in advance will help ensure that all the members of your household—including children and people with disabilities and others with access and functional needs, as well as outside caregivers—know how to reach each other and where to meet up in an emergency.
Arrange your home for safety: Store heavy objects on lower shelves and store breakable objects in cabinets with latched doors. Don’t hang heavy mirrors or pictures above where people frequently sit or sleep.
Anchor heavy appliances and furniture such as water heaters, refrigerators, and bookcases.
Store flammable liquids away from potential ignition sources such as water heaters, stoves, and furnaces.
Learn where the main turn-offs are for your water, gas, and electricity. Know how to turn them off and the location of any needed tools.
Designate a kitchen cabinet or part of a hall closet in your house as the location of an earthquake preparedness kit. Everyone should know where it is and what’s in it. Make it easy to reach in a damaged house. (The crawl space in your basement is not good, especially if you haven’t reinforced your cripple wall.) The kitchen is okay, and so is an unused and cleaned-out garbage can in your garage—unless the garage is prone to collapse due to “soft-story” problems. Many items listed below are handy in any emergency—not just an earthquake. (Maybe you are already doing this as your part of the war on terrorism.)
• First-aid kit, fully equipped, including an instruction manual. Check expiration dates of medicines and replace when necessary. Liquids and glass bottles should be sealed in zip-lock storage bags. Keep your previous prescription glasses here; your prescription might have changed, but the glasses will do in an emergency.
• Flashlights, one per person, preferably with alkaline batteries. Replace batteries every year. Keep extra batteries in the package they came in until ready for use. Several large candles for each room, together with matches. Coleman lantern, with an extra can of gas for it.
• Portable radio with spare batteries. If the power is off, this will be your only source of information about what’s going on. Your portable phone won’t work if your phone service is cut off. Your cell phone might work, but heavy phone traffic could make it hard to get through, as was the case during the Nisqually Earthquake, the first “cell-phone earthquake.” It may be more difficult to call locally than to call long distance.
• Food, in large part what you would take on a camping trip. Granola bars, unsalted nuts, trail mix, and lots of canned goods (fish, fruit, juice, chili, beef stew, beans, spaghetti). Dried fruit, peanut butter, honey (in plastic containers, not glass), powdered or canned milk. We’re talking about survival, not gourmet dining, but try to stock with food your family likes. Keep a manual can opener and other cooking and eating utensils separate from those you use every day. If you lose power, eat the food in your freezer first. It will keep for several days if the freezer door is kept shut as much as possible.
• Fire extinguishers. Keep one in the bedroom, one in the kitchen, and one in the garage. Attach them firmly to wall studs so they don’t shake off. Keep a bucket of sand near your fireplace during the winter, when the fireplace is in frequent use.
• Drinking water. You’ll need one gallon per person per day for at least three days; more is better. Large plastic containers can be filled with water and stored; change the water once a year. Two-and-one-half-gallon containers are available, but one-gallon containers are easier to carry. Your water heater and toilet tank are water sources, but if the water heater is not strapped and falls over, its glass lining may break, requiring the water to be filtered through a cloth. Empty the water heater by turning off the heater (remove its fuse or shut off its circuit breaker) and its hot-water source, then turn on a hot water faucet and fill containers. Water purification will be necessary. Do not use toilet tank water if the water has been chemically treated to keep the bowl clean (turns blue after flushing). Swimming pool or hot tub water is okay for washing but not for drinking.
Turn off your house water supply at the street to keep sewage from backing up into your water system. Plug bathtub and sink drains.
If you’re a backpacker or you travel in underdeveloped countries, you already know about hand-operated water pumps, filters, and purifying tablets, available at outdoor stores. Iodine purifying tablets make the water taste terrible, but you can add other tablets to neutralize the taste. Store these with your preparedness kit, and use them if there is any doubt about the water, including water from the water heater or toilet tank. You can also use liquid bleach in a plastic container, but do not use granular bleach!
• Tools. Keep a hammer, axe, screwdriver, pliers, crowbar, shovel, and Swiss Army knife in your kit, along with work gloves and duct tape. Buy a special wrench to turn off the gas at the source. Keep this at the gas valve, and make sure everyone knows where it is and how to use it. If you smell gas, turn your gas supply off immediately; the pilot light on your furnace would be enough to catch your house on fire. Don’t turn it on again yourself—let a professional do it. Keep a wrench at the water meter to shut off your water at the source.
If your water is shut off, you won’t be able to use the bathroom. Use your shovel to dig a hole in your yard for a temporary latrine. Line the hole with a large plastic garbage bag; alternatively, sprinkle with lime after each use (purchase the lime from a hardware store). If you are able to get to your bathroom, you could line the toilet with a small garbage bag, use the toilet, and dispose of the bag.
• Camping gear. Keep in one place tents, sleeping bags, tarps, mattresses, ponchos, Coleman stoves and lanterns, and gas to supply them so they are as accessible as your preparedness kit. Picnic plates and cups, plastic spoons, paper napkins, and paper towels should be in your kit.
• Other items. Large, zip-lock plastic bags; large and intermediate-size garbage bags with twist ties; toothbrushes and toothpaste; soap; shampoo; face cloths; towels; dish pan and pot; toilet paper; sanitary napkins; shaving items (your electric razor won’t work); baby needs; and special medications (especially for elderly people).
• Kits for elsewhere. Under your bed, keep a day pack with a flashlight, shoes, work gloves, glasses, car and house keys, and clothes for an emergency. Keep another day pack, along with a fire extinguisher, in the trunk of your car and—if you work in an isolated area—at your workplace.
You need to be prepared to shelter at work for at least 24 hours. Make sure you have food and water and other necessities like medicines in your kit. Also, be sure to have comfortable walking shoes at your workplace in case an evacuation requires walking long distances. Include physical local maps as communications services my be unreliable.
Your kit should also be in one container and ready to “grab and go” in case you are evacuated from your workplace.
In case you are stranded, keep a kit of emergency supplies in your car. This kit should include:
- Jumper cables
- Flashlights and extra batteries
- First aid kit and necessary medications in case you are away from home for a prolonged time
- Food items containing protein such as nuts and energy bars; canned fruit and a portable can opener
- Water for each person and pet in your car
- AM/FM radio to listen to traffic reports and emergency messages
- Cat litter or sand for better tire traction
- Ice scraper
- Warm clothes, gloves, hat, sturdy boots, jacket and an extra change of clothes
- Blankets or sleeping bags
- A fully-charged cell phone and phone charger
- Flares or reflective triangle
- Baby formula and diapers if you have a small child
Be prepared for an emergency by keeping your gas tank full. One way to do this is rather than letting your gas tank run empty, refill it when it's still half full. If you find yourself stranded, be safe and stay in your car, put on your flashers, call for help and wait until it arrives.
Download a printable PDF basic emergency supply kit.
Make sure pets are properly identified (collar, tags, microchip). Even when pets are inside, they should wear IDs.
Be familiar with hiding places. Some pets, especially cats, will hide when they’re frightened. Take note of where they have hidden in the past.
Keep health information current. If your pet becomes lost or stays in a shelter with other animals, he may be exposed to infectious diseases. Consider consulting a veterinarian after your pet comes home.
Display a pet alert sign. Window stickers are available that let first responders know there are animals inside your home.
Keep a medical record and current photo. Share this information with animal shelters or other agencies that might find your pet.
Build a kit. Include vaccination and veterinary records, food, water, and any pet medications. The Humane Society offers guidance on what to include in a pet disaster preparedness kit.
Continue to monitor. In any significant earthquake, after-shocks are almost inevitable. Be ready to help frightened pets through those, too.
Check animal shelters. If your pet becomes lost, make the local animal shelter your first place to look.
Supplies Quick list:
- water - one gallon per person per day
- food - at least a three day supply
- battery powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA weather radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
- flashlight and extra batteries, candles
- first aid kit
- whistle to signal for help
- dust mask, to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and ductape to shelter in place
- moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
- wrench or pliers to turn off utilites
- can opener for food
- local maps
- Prescription medications and glasses
- Infant formula and diapers
- Pet food and extra water for your pet
- Cash or travelers checks and change
- Emergency reference material
- Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person.
- Complete change of clothes including a long sleeve shirt, long pants and sturdy shoes.
- Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper (for santitizing water)
- Fire Extinguisher
- Lighter & Matches in a waterproof container
- Feminine supplies and personal hygine items
- mess kits, paper cups, plates & plastic utensils, paper towls
- paper & pencil
- Books, games, puzzles & other activities for kids
A disaster supplies kit is simply a collection of basic items your household may need in the event of an emergency.
Try to assemble your kit well in advance of an emergency. You may have to evacuate at a moment’s notice and take essentials with you. You will probably not have time to search for the supplies you need or shop for them.