So, What Do
I Put in My Earthquake Kit?
hear this question a lot. It takes a little imagination and personal evaluation.
Basically, it depends on individual circumstances, but there is a common
denominator with nearly everyone....that being, that there's a very good chance
of being caught on the road, away from work or home, when a major earthquake
strikes. At any given time there are hundreds of thousands of vehicles on the
road. For that reason alone, it is a wise choice to have a B.O.B. (bug out bag)
or carry out bag in your vehicle at all times, and since it will most likely be
with you wherever you go, that's where I suggest you might start - an auto
Think About It ??
If you've ever driven the
freeways in California (who in California hasn't) then you know what a pileup
can be like from a simple auto accident. You've probably seen the same situation
from a single CHP handing out a ticket alongside the freeway. Thousands of
vehicles are quickly brought to a crawl or sudden stop. Getting on the "move"
again can take quite some time. Now imagine a major catastrophic earthquake....
most interchanges are broken and become impassable, roads are buckled and
accidents could be numbered in the hundreds or thousands.
You Could be
Sitting in a Nightmare!
One big hellacious parking lot, from which your
only choices may be to try and wait it out or abandon you car for a cross
country trek. It could be days before all the accidents are completely cleaned
up and the detours are made available. In the meantime your car has now become
your temporary living quarters. Providing you have not been injured in an
accident, you first needs will probably be food, water and yes, some type of
sanitary bathroom facilities. Emergency food bars and water packets or water
boxes are a must have. They are immune from drastic heat levels and have a shelf
life of up to 5 years. Their low costs make them a no-brainer.
I also I
recommend some type of temporary "restroom" facility items where one can answer
nature's call. Let's face it, sooner or later, this will be a major
concern!...when you gotta go, you gotta go, What are your alternatives? You
could be sharing the " countryside facilities" with a lot of strangers! One
option could be a "honey bucket" (a 5 gl. pail with removable toilet seat),
sanitary bags, T.P and sanitary wipes! Another option is a product called
"Restop 1" and "Restop 2", which are also good choices for emergencies. This
could prove to be a life saving solution.
Make sure you have a good
spare, jack, and jumper cables just in case. Tools to keep you vehicle moving
are actually a part of a good emergency kit. If you ever do get moving again,
you don't want a stalled car to make things worse than they already are.
Keep a dynamo (hand wind up) radio and flashlight handy. Sure you've got a radio
in your car, but do you really want to run down your battery? You may want to
include some blankets and pillows in case you're forced to spend a night or two
and have an extra pair of walking shoes and a poncho in case you need to hoof it
out of there. Another obvious choice would be a first aid kit and any extra
prescription drugs that you may need.
Remember, interchanges have been
retrofitted, so while they may not collapse, this doesn't mean they will be safe
to drive on - most likely authorities will not let you drive on them - In fact,
most interchanges will be shut down for safety precautions after a large
earthquake. Exits and off ramps will be swamped with hundreds of thousand of
vehicles trying to get to freedom. Many will be barricaded due to fires,
accidents, floods and debris, so unless you have a pretty mean 4x4, don't think
you're going to make an escape any time soon.
Worse Case Scenarios
Earthquakes can strike at any time.
Be ready for any type of weather
conditions, that could complicate the situation. You may have to spend a couple
of days in your car, so be sure to have warm clothing and blankets, for it gets
pretty cold at night, in the dead of winter, even in California. Emergency
sleeping bags and blankets will go a long way to help prevent hypothermia.
Summer months can present an opposite situation where the heat inside your car
might make it unbearable to stay inside. You can't leave the car running all day
with the air conditioner on, so you will probably be forced to spend some time
outside the car. For this reason you may want to keep a hat and some sunscreen
handy, and a folding lawn chair to sit in - and oh yeah, some extra water - as
much as you can store safely. A good first aid kit with a cold pack and a wet
towel might help fight off heat stress or heat stroke.
Keep Plenty of Water
Remember, you will pretty much be on your own.
Worse Case Scenario:
We're all familiar with the California Santa Ana
winds. We can only hope that a major quake doesn't strike during the windy
season. Hundreds of potential fires could become thousands of separate fires in
a hurry with strong winds and little or no water to put them out. Entire cities
could possibly be burnt to the ground, especially in a Santa Ana condition.
Professionals, who have studied the possible effects of such a large earthquake,
have actually come to the conclusion that fires may present twice the damage as
the earthquake itself - and this is without the complications of the Santa Anas!
In cities such as Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside large fires could
possibly burn several city blocks at a time. We're talking some serious
This would be a real worse case scenario!
A Word About
Schools and Classrooms
If your reading this and you have children (the
vast majority of you do), then I know you will be concerned with their safety.
Smaller children, especially those in the elementary grades will be in a
lockdown situation at school, along with their teachers. Children of this age
cannot be allowed to leave without the parents or someone who has been cleared
to pick them up. As a parent, you may be one of those caught in the commuting
nightmare. Thus, it could be a long while before all of these kids are released.
For this reason, I highly recommend that these classrooms carry some food bars,
water boxes, light sticks, emergency sleeping bags, and some type of temporary
outside privacy shelter with an emergency "honey bucket" and sanitary supplies,
should the toilet facilities become unusable. If you are a teacher, parent or
someone in school risk management, I strongly urge you to get together and draw
up some type of plan for supplies for such an emergency. We will be glad to help
in any way we can.
At Home Kit
An earthquake kit for the home
might be considerably different from the one you carry in your car.
you've gotten away from the commuting nightmare and everyone is safely at home,
your struggle is far from over. Although now at home, you may have access to
more of the necessities you will need to survive, there are still monumental
obstacles to overcome. While your house may still be standing, who in their
right mind would want to try and sleep inside this potential tomb? Structurally,
it could be very unsafe and there will be hundreds of aftershocks. As I have
stated before, you may have to "rough it" outside for a while, so just think of
it as a prolonged camping expedition. This is where a good tent and some
sleeping bags come in. If you've ever done any camping, you may already have
most of the items you will need. You will probably be doing a lot of campfire
cooking out in the ol backyard,. so some type of stove (possibly propane), will
come in handy.
Food stored in cans and possibly MRE's or freeze dried foods
will now replace the food bars you carried in your car for an emergency and
instead of water packs or water boxes that you had stored in your car, you will
now have a 55 gallon water drum or two to supply your family's water needs for
the next few weeks until help arrives. You did remember to buy the water drum
Other items you will need include a dynamo radio and light
(from your auto emergency kit), gloves, duct tape and tools for prying open
jammed doors and cupboards, and a hard hat, because you know you will be going
inside occasionally to get supplies, no matter what the warnings may be. I don't
recommend you do this, but if you do, you will definitely want to wear a hard
hat with all the coming aftershocks!
Candles and lightsticks are a very
inexpensive way of providing light at night., but you will probably need some
type of lantern as well.
Finally, you will need that port-a-potty or "honey
bucket" that you carried in your car. A good privacy shelter/shower would work
great for a temporary bathroom. Remember, sewage lines will be broken and most
likely backed up, so your bathrooms inside may be unfit for use - but if you
must use them, make sure you have a box of toilet liners (or a roll of kitchen
bags), twist tabs, seat covers, sanitary chemicals, some TP, antibacterial wipes
and a hard hat handy.
Where Do I Store All This Stuff?
every situation is different. Preferably, you would like to store your emergency
items outside of the house for obvious reasons. A metal shed with a lock would
work well, but remember to hide the key outside as well. For added weather
protection, the items can be placed in an open 55 gallon polyethylene drum with
a banded seal on top. Still another means of storage might be in an outdoor
storage deck box or deck bench. They are made of heavy duty resin and will keep
the items dry inside, plus they double as a bench seat. However, it is best that
they are not subjected to direct weather, such as rain, but placed underneath a
patio cover, for instance. They will normally have the capacity to be locked
with a padlock, and generally can be found at various Home Depots, Lowes, and
Other Things to Consider:
Personal hygiene will soon
become a concern. If you've ever watched an episode of "Survivor" you know how
important it will be to keep regular hygiene and stay healthy, so have a
personal hygiene kit ready - it could be one that you have already created for
your auto emergency kit. You will need water for any type of hygiene. Drinking
water will be a precious commodity, but you will still have water stored in the
pipes in your home. You will also have water from you toilet tanks (not the
bowl) to use. We have filters for your water heaters that will allow you to
store an additional 30 or more gallons of drinking water or you can use it for
other means. Finally, if you have a pool or spa, you can use this water for
bathing, washing dishes, etc. but be sure the water is disinfected first. We
also carry a water filter that will instantly provide an additional 100 gallons
of 99.99% pure drinking water from your swimming pool.
Earthquake Preparedness With a Car Kit
It will almost always be with you,
wherever you are.