An earthquake is a scary experience. While mild earthquakes typically don’t do too much damage, severe earthquakes can cause structural damage to your property. They can also knock down infrastructure and eliminate power from your neighbors.
Minor earthquakes can knock out power for just a few days. Massive earthquakes, with a rating of 7 or higher, can damage roads, buildings, bridges and more. Plus, the following aftershocks also cause damage.
The first thing on every list should be water. Each person (an animal) needs one gallon per day. FEMA and other emergency preparation groups recommend you have at least a two weeks worth of supplies for your family. That means you need 14 gallons per person.
There is a chance that, after an earthquake, water treatment facilities may be down. In those cases, a boil order will be issued, but if power is out, there is no way to boil water. Having your supply of water eliminates those concerns.
You can survive several days without food, but no one wants to do that unless necessary. After an earthquake, there is a good chance power will be shut off.
Gas lines could be fractured as well, so don’t expect to use your gas oven. It is typically recommended that you turn off your gas to avoid a leak in your house until you are sure the lines are fine.
You want items that are easy to cook over heat or edible without any heat at all. Calories are important, so stockpile things like:
- Canned beans and soups
- Trail mix
- Peanut butter
- Canned meat such as chicken, beef or tuna
- Granola bars
- Instant potatoes and gravy
- Canned fruits
- Protein drinks and protein bars
- Dried cereal
- Hard candy
Don’t forget food for your pets! They need to eat after an earthquake as well.
Something scary to think about is that an earthquake could make your house unsafe. A large enough earthquake can damage the structure of your home. Until you are sure that it is safe to stay in your home, you might want to consider a shelter outside of your home.
Tents are the easiest choice. You can stockpile individual tents or larger ones for your family. You also want to have sleeping bags and blankets available. If possible, store them outside somewhere safe, in a waterproof container. Doing so allows you to reach them after an earthquake. Hopefully, you won’t have to use them!
First Aid Supplies
Another item on most stockpile lists is a First Aid Kit. During an earthquake, things could fall on top of you. You want to be sure you can take care of any injuries. In most areas, hospitals will be up and running, but they could be structurally damaged.
Post-earthquake, hospitals will be extremely busy. You do want to avoid them unless necessary. In your first aid kit, you should include all the necessary items like band aids, antibiotic cream, gauze, tape, butterfly closures, skin glue, along with medication. Pain relievers, allergy medication, anti-nausea medication, Tums, and more should be in your kit as well.
Remember also to include personal medication that your family members may take each day. If you explain to your doctor, many are willing to give you an extra month’s supplies for preparing. For those who wear glasses or contacts, keep extra sets and contact solution with your first aid supplies.
Sanitation system could be down for a bit. Staying clean and keeping your areas disinfected will go a long way to prevent diseases. You need to keep your shelter area cleaned.
You also need to keep your waste separated and contained. If your toilet is not working, huge garbage bags with cat litter tend to be a good option.
For sanitation, you should have bleach on hand, as well as personal hygienic items. Toothpaste, toothbrushes, and soap shouldn’t be forgotten. I would suggest purchasing some antibacterial hand soap and wipes for surfaces.
Many people keep disposable plates, napkins, and silverware for post-earthquake times. You don’t want a sink full of dishes because it can lead to ants and flies. With all of the time you might need to spend cleaning up, they will also save you time.
If electricity is down, you will want forms of light at night. If you happen to be camping outside in a tent, a simple firepit will work.
Otherwise, you will have flashlights and lanterns on hand. Best of all, these are used for other emergencies or even if your power goes out for a few hours. Don’t forget to stockpile batteries for your lantern and flashlight!
Candles are typically an option, but not recommended for post-earthquake scenarios. There could be a gas leak that you are unaware, leading to potential disasters. Stick to the fires outside. If you want to light a candle outside, that is much safer. You need lighters, waterproof matches, and lighter fluid.
Tools and Cleaning Items
After an earthquake, there could be a good deal of things that need to be fixed. I suggest you have a few pairs of heavy duty gloves on hand. You might need to pick up the glass from broken windows. You also might want to have thick shoes on hand. Stepping on nails or glass could send you to the hospital or worse.
Because of the damage, you should have brooms on hand, dust masks, an axe, screwdrivers, wrenches, hammers, nails, and screws. You can do some temporary fixes to your home and get it livable again. Don’t forget the manual can opener!
A crescent wrench is a necessary tool. You need it for turning off your gas lines. Since you don’t want to cause a fire, turning off the gas lines is essential post-earthquake.
You want to keep up with the latest developments, particularly aftershocks. I would suggest purchasing a crank radio or a solar powered radio. FEMA might post updates or places to get supplies. They also should mention when power and services will be restored. If possible, purchase a radio that has a port to charge your cell phone.
It seems like a strange item to include, but a garden hose can be used to fight fires. After an earthquake, you see more fires than normal due to broken gas lines. A garden hose can help to save your home; just make sure you have a water source nearby of course.
Supplies and Toys for Children
With the power down and schools out for at least a few days, you need to make sure you have supplies for your kids. For babies, you need at least two weeks’ worth of diapers, wipes, baby food, and formula, if you use it. If your baby is comfortable, you will be less stressed during this time.
For older kids, you want to have extra clothes on hand. Also, you should have books, board games, coloring supplies, and other items on hand. It will keep them entertained while you work at fixing up the house.
Plastic Sheets and Tape
Earthquakes can break windows. Your house might survive a tremor with a few broken windows. Plastic sheets and tape allow you to cover those up until you can get new windows installed. You also can use the plastic sheets for shelter, if you so desire.
You never know what you will need tow or rescue after an earthquake. Ropes allow you to pull things that need to be moved. If you have to secure items in your vehicle, ropes can do that. It also gives you a way to rescue someone who is trapped.
If you are trapped because of an earthquake, you want a way to get someone’s attention. The first choice is to keep whistles throughout your house.
When digging through rubble, whistles will get someone’s attention. You also want to have light sticks and flashers on hand. If you are assisting in search and rescues, you can alert first responders if you need help.
A Plastic Storage Tote or Two
So, you have all of these items, but how are you supposed to access them if your house is damaged? The best solution is to keep your supplies in a shed outside of your home.
Chances are your shed won’t withstand a massive earthquake, but your goal is to keep your supplies safe. You want to keep your stockpiled items in a plastic storage tote, so everything stays dry.
Cash – Small Bills
With electricity down, you will need cash on hand. Ideally, you want a large variety of small bills on hand. If stores are open, they will only take cash.
On the off chance that the earthquake is so huge that it damages life as we know it, gold and silver may end up being the currency of choice. However, that has yet to happen. Stock up on some small bills first.
Preparing for an earthquake requires more than just stockpiling items. It is important to remember to prepare your house. All dressers, bookshelves, and TV stands should be anchored to the walls.
Not only does that prepare damage to your items, but it also helps to reduce the chance that you or your family member is injured. If you don’t secure your bookshelf and your child is playing below it, an earthquake could have devastating results.
Always have a list of contacts that need to be called or texted after an earthquake. Usually, the phone lines are busy directly afterward. Texting could be the best choice and easiest to reach family.
Those living along with western coast, especially California, should be prepared for an earthquake. Scientists believe there is a massive one on the horizon, which could cause terrible damage to infrastructure.
Prepare a route to leave if the damage and aftermath are too scary to stay in the area. Mapping a back road route out of your city will save you time, especially because roads can be damaged and traffic stuck for hours.
Make sure to stockpile these 15 items. It may not seem like a lot, but it will make your life post-earthquake much easier. Once you are prepared for the future, you will feel relaxed and ready for whatever Mother Nature tosses at you.
P.S. If you want to prepare specifically for a blackout, take a look at these 16 things to stockpile for a blackout. Many of those items apply to earthquake kits, since they typically go hand in hand. You never know how long the damage from an earthquake will last.
Bethany Hayes is a mother of three kids who has a small, suburban homestead. When she isn’t homeschooling or gardening, she might be focusing on building up their homestead or preserving the harvest.