Earthquake Preparedness Step 4: Have Emergency Supplies on Hand

Step 4 in the 6 Step Earthquake Preparedness Series is perhaps the most controversial.  Everyone can agree that people need to have emergency supplies, but it is exactly what emergency supplies you should have that is in disagreement.  Emergency management officials recommend 72 hours worth of supplies while the LDS church recommends stocking up for a year.  The sad part is that amidst all the conflicting advice many Americans are simply choosing to do nothing: only 36% of Americans have a go kit stocked with emergency supplies according to the CEG citizen preparedness survey. 1

Just by reading this blog though I know that you are inspired to be the prepared percentage.  So let's break it down.

How long should I prepare for?

Start with the minimum of 72 hours.  It's the least overwhelming number that is still effective.  By stocking 72 hours of supplies, you are enabling your family to get through life's irritations (i.e. power outages, snowstorms) with ease.  Once you've built your 72 stash, then work up to a week, then a month, then a year.

Why should you stock up for longer than 72 hours?
If a large earthquake hits, then infrastructure such as roads, bridges and electrical and gas lines will be damaged, interfering with our food and water supplies as well as heat and power to our homes.  It will take time, much longer than we would like, for infrastructure to be rebuilt.  Case in point: here in Oregon, we are preparing for a 9.0 Cascadian Subduction Zone Earthquake that will produce a devastating tsunami off our coastline.  Emergency responders are already predicting that it will take weeks until help arrives for our residents in our coastal areas.

What do I need?
You will need two things:

  • A 72 hour kit for each family member 
  • Earthquake supplies stored in an easily accessible location.

The 72 hour kit is the big project.  Each kit needs to address the following needs for each family member: water, food, shelter, light, communication, warmth, first aid, clothing, money and medicines.  Your kit also needs to be portable in case you need to evacuate, so storage in a backpack is recommended.

There are two ways to tackle this project:
  1. Buy ready-made emergency kits.  This is the fastest and easiest option.  And, unless you have the entire list of supplies lying around your house, it's also the cheapest.  Buying each item that comes in a ready-made kit is over $100 for each person.  A ready-made kit for one person is only $69.99.
  2. Assemble your emergency kit yourself.  If you think you have most of the items already in your possession, this is a great option for you.  You can print out the list of items from our website and use that as your checklist.  The optimal solution is if you have each item in its camping/backpacking form.  This makes your emergency kit lighter and easier to carry in case you need to evacuate.  
In addition to your 72 hour kit, you will need to pack emergency supplies in your house that are easily accessible in the event of an earthquake.  You'll want to compile the following supplies and store them together: a plastic tub, especially the kind with wheels works well, so do garbage cans.  You'll need:

Once you've compiled this "at-home" kit, store it in your garage or other easily accessible location on your main floor.

You're over halfway there to becoming prepared for earthquakes!  Check out Earthquake Preparedness Step 5: Making a Family Communications Plan next.

Missed the first three steps?  Catch up here:

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