Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Earthquake Preparedness

The past few weeks have been crazy around our house. A number of incidences have made me think about how I prepare for unexpected emergencies. As a result, I have been overhauling and reorganizing some of the preparedness measures I have in place around the house. I thought I would write about it here and welcome any feedback and ideas you have that could make our home ready for anything.

Today’s topic is earthquake kits.

The Japan earthquake and tsunami have reminded us how important it is as Southern Californians to be prepared in the event of an earthquake. I have always been sensitive to the fact that we could have “the big one” at any time- partly because I am a type A (read: anal) and a bit of a worry wart, and because the media likes to scare the begesus out of people like me by reporting every earthquake prediction any scientist makes.

Most disaster relief organizations recommend having a 72 hour supply of food and water for each member of your household as well as a multitude of other supplies at hand. I’ll be honest- in an ideal world you would have every item on these checklists ready and waiting in the event of an emergency, but in reality, there is not enough room in the corner of the garage to hold everything you might need, and having every last thing on the list can get expensive.

Our family’s solution to this problem is as much about daily necessity as it is about preparedness. Having a family of five means we cannot fit everything we need in the kitchen cabinets. As a storage solution we have a “pantry” in the garage along the wall, near the door. We keep lots of stuff on those shelves that we will eventually use in the house, but also cover much of our needs in the event of an earthquake. Some things have been added to the pantry specifically for use in a disaster (those things are stored in the purple bin).

Here is what our pantry holds:

  • Non-perishable canned and boxed food that requires no preparation or just heating.
  • Can opener
  • Sterno burners
  • Water (I need more of this)
  • Gatorade
  • Disposable cups, plates and utensils
  • Paper towels, TP, Kleenex
  • Baby wipes
  • Diapers
  • First Aid Kit
  • Feminine supplies (because an earthquake would hit then)
  • Plastic trash bags of various sizes as well as food storage bags
  • Flashlights and extra batteries
  • A-B-C fire extinguisher
  • Matches
  • Bottle opener and wine opener- we have a fridge in the garage full of booze. If we have to leave the house for an extended period of time for “the big one” you better believe I am going to have a drink.
  • Radio with batteries
  • Homeowners and Earthquake insurance information including policy number and contact numbers (Did you know your normal homeowners policy DOES NOT cover Earthquake damage? You must get separate insurance through he CEA-California Earthquake Authority.)
  • Contact information for family members and doctors.
  • Pet supplies- including food, bowls, extra collars and leashes. We also have the dogs’ crates in the garage so they can be safely corralled if necessary.
  • Medications- Tylenol and ibuprofen (for the adults and children), allergy meds, contact lenses solution, Pepto, sunscreen, toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, soap. VW recently started on an inhaler- I need to get an extra one.
  • Baby supplies (when we have an infant)- diapers wipes, formula, baby food, bottles, sippy cups
  • Entertainment items for the children
  • Cash- small bills

Items in the garage that are not in the “pantry” but are easily accessible:

  • Tarp
  • Water purification system/bleach and eyedropper
  • Ax
  • Shovels
  • Hammer/Nails
  • Wrench (for tuning off gas and water if necessary)
  • Duct and electrical tape.
  • Clorox Wipes
  • Extra clothing and shoes for all family members (The laundry area is also in the garage and as much as I would like to say my laundry is always done, it is just a revolving door. Everyone in the family also keeps a pair of shoes in the garage.)
  • Blankets

Items recommended you have on hand, but we don’t. I plan on picking up the first two when I see them on sale cheap:

  • Tent
  • Sleeping bags
  • Crow bar
  • Roll of plastic sheeting
  • Satellite phone
  • Rope (but we do have bungee cords- that counts, right?)
  • Compass and local road maps

For complete lists of what you should have in the event of an earthquake/emergency Google search emergency preparedness checklist.

What have I missed?



  1. "Feminine supplies (because an earthquake would hit then)" - I can't stop laughing!

  2. An earthquake would hit then :) Thanks for the reminder. I need to get on that myself.

  3. I stumbled on your blog and thanks for the ideas. In emergency preparedness I have also thought about having tags for each child to put around their neck with their name, allergies etc. and a phone number of someone living outside of the state. My worst nightmare would be to be separated from my child in an emergency (I may put this in their backpack when they go to school.)