Table of Contents Why should I care? What should I do? What should I know?

Putting down roots in earthquake country (a service of SCEC)

Step 3

Prepare disaster supplies kits.

Personal disaster supplies kits

Everyone should have personal disaster supplies kits. Keep them where you spend most of your time, so they can be reached even if your building is badly damaged. The kits will be useful for many emergencies, and especially if you need to evacuate out of a tsunami hazard zone.

Keep one kit in your home, another in your car, and a third kit at work. Backpacks or other small bags are best for your disaster supplies kits so you can take them with you if you evacuate.
Include at least the following items:

  • Medications, prescription list, copies of medical cards, doctor's name and contact information
  • Medical consent forms for dependents
  • First aid kit and handbook
  • Examination gloves (non-latex)
  • Dust mask
  • Spare eyeglasses or contact lenses and cleaning solution
  • Bottled water
  • Whistle (to alert rescuers to your location)
  • Sturdy shoes
  • Emergency cash (ATMs might not work)
    Small bills and coins are the best.
  • Copies of personal identification (driver's license, work ID card, etc.)
  • Road maps
  • List of emergency out-of-area contact phone numbers
  • Snack foods, high in water and calories
  • Working flashlight with extra batteries and light bulbs, or light sticks
  • Personal hygiene supplies
  • Comfort items such as games, crayons, writing materials, teddy bears
  • Toiletries and special provisions you need for yourself and others in your family including elderly, disabled, small children, and animals
  • If you have difficulty communicating, keep a note-book, pencils, etc. in several locations

Household disaster supplies kit

Electrical, water, transportation, and other vital systems can be disrupted for several days or much longer in some places after a large earthquake. Emergency response agencies and hospitals could be overwhelmed and unable to provide you with immediate assistance. Providing first aid and having supplies will save lives, will make life more comfortable, and will help you cope after the next earthquake.

In addition to your personal disaster supplies kits, store a household disaster supplies kit in an easily accessible location (in a large watertight container that can be easily moved), with a supply of the following items to last at least 3 days and ideally for 2 weeks:

  • Water (minimum one gallon a day for each person and pet, for drinking, cooking, and sanitation)
  • Wrenches to turn off gas and water supplies
  • Work gloves and protective goggles
  • Heavy duty plastic bags for waste, and to serve as tarps, rain ponchos, and other uses
  • Portable radio with extra batteries (or hand crank for charging)
  • Additional flashlights or light sticks
  • Non-powered corded phone (if only cordless phones are normally used)
  • Canned and packaged foods
  • Charcoal or gas grill for outdoor cooking and matches if needed
  • Cooking utensils, including a manual can opener
  • Pet food and pet restraints. Include supplies for seeing eye, hearing, or companion dogs.
  • Comfortable, warm clothing including extra socks
  • Blankets or sleeping bags, and perhaps even a tent
  • Copies of vital documents such as insurance policies

Use and replace perishable items like water, food, medications and batteries on a yearly basis. Keep special medical or mobility equipment (ventilators, oxygen tanks, extra cane, etc.) where they can be easily reached.

A special note about children

If earthquakes scare us because we feel out of control, think how much more true this must be for children, who already must depend on adults for so much of their lives. It is important to spend time with children in your care before the next earthquake to explain why earthquakes occur. Involve them in developing your disaster plan, prepare disaster supplies kits, and practice "drop, cover, and hold on." Consider simulating post-earthquake conditions by going without electricity or tap water.

After the earthquake, remember that children will be under great stress. They may be frightened, their routine will probably be disrupted, and the aftershocks won't let them forget the experience. Adults may need to leave their children in order to deal with the many demands of the emergency, but this can be devastating to children. Extra contact and support from parents in the early days will pay off later. Whenever possible, include them in the recovery process.

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