If you live in an area at risk from any kind of seismic activity, then knowing how to create an earthquake kit can make all of the difference in helping you prepare for disaster and react without hesitation when a quake strikes.
Earthquakes can strike without warning and when they do, the results can be devastating in the areas affected. With hazards ranging from major building collapse to catastrophic tsunami and long-term power outages, it’s critical that if an earthquake strikes, you’re fully prepared to react effectively.
Whether you’re at home or away when a seismic tremor is felt, knowing how to prepare an earthquake kit for every eventuality will ensure that you’re in the best possible situation to react quickly and without hesitation, removing you from harm and maximizing your resilience.
Table of Contents
- 1 Earthquake Preparedness 101
- 2 Things to Consider When Creating an Earthquake Kit
- 3 Types of Earthquake Kit to Prepare
- 4 Preparing an Earthquake Kit for Your Home
- 5 Preparing an Earthquake Kit for Use When Away From Home
Earthquake Preparedness 101
Earthquakes occur when stored energy is built up in the Earth’s crust is suddenly released.
When this happens, the resultant earthquake comes in the form of seismic waves shake the ground and cause the physical destruction we see during and after a quake.
Generally speaking your proximity to the center of the earthquake, will increase the severity of the destruction. In the case of a tsunami, however, the pre-cursor earthquake may happen many miles from land with the damage coming from the wall of water that emanates from the point of disturbance out at sea which makes its way towards coastal areas.
Whether you’re near or far from the epicenter of a major quake, it pays to be prepared for the unexpected and the set of principles and strategic planning around preparing for an earthquake are essential to know.
Things to Consider When Creating an Earthquake Kit
If an earthquake strikes, the effects can be wide-ranging and sometimes unexpected. From loss of power to evacuating an unsafe building, the hazards and risks of a seismic event will determine specifically what to include when thinking about how to create an earthquake kit.
The Major Risks – Earthquakes
When we think of an earthquake, we usually associate the damage with falling buildings and while this is definitely a huge risk in a major seismic event, the greatest danger will likely come from falling items within the building.
It’s therefore a priority to make sure that you ‘shake-proof’ your home in advance of a serious earthquake to reduce the chances of injury or death by falling or toppling heavy objects.
Look to secure freestanding heavy furniture such as bookshelves to the wall using anchor points or brackets and move any heavy, fragile, breakable or unsteady items off of high shelves or areas where they could fall and cause damage or injury. Pay particular attention here to any items located above areas where you sleep or rest such as sofas and beds.
If a quake is severe enough, then the structural integrity of the building (whether it’s your home, workplace or public buildings) may be threatened and be at risk of partial or total collapse. In these instances, while your priority at the immediate onset of an earthquake is to seek suitable shelter without delay, your preparedness plan and earthquake kit need to account for the fact that a collapse may occur around your shelter spot during or soon after the event.
It probably goes without saying, but in the aftermath of any disaster such as an earthquake, access to reliable illumination when the lights go out is a priority and so investing in a high-quality tactical flashlight is always money well spent.
While a quake may only cause limited or no damage to your property directly, depending on the severity of the event and its epicenter, it’s highly likely that utilities including both power and water will be out of action either temporarily or for a prolonged period of time. Similarly, damage to infrastructure, compounded by everyone else calling for help will almost certainly mean you won’t be able to contact emergency first responders after a major earthquake.
The Major Risks – Tsunami
If a serious earthquake or seismic disturbance occurs under the ocean, it can result in a tsunami or similar tidal wave, effectively forming a rise in sea-level which spreads out from the epicenter as a wall of water, devastating coastal and low-lying areas in its path.
In the event that an earthquake occurs out at sea or in the vicinity of a coastal area, the priority is to evacuate and make for higher ground as soon as possible.
The point at which a tsunami makes landfall will bear the brunt of the destructive force of the wave, flattening obstacles and causing widespread and devastating flooding within minutes of arrival.
If you live further inland, there are still multiple risks associated with both the quake which caused the tsunami (severe aftershocks may follow) as well as the resultant damage to infrastructure in the wake of the wave which may leave huge areas without power or utilities for many days.
In the case of events such as the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake in Japan, the tsunami not only caused extreme devastation to the areas of coastline in its path but also led to a catastrophic meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, triggering a nuclear emergency and mass evacuations of the surrounding area.
Types of Earthquake Kit to Prepare
One of the most important things to remember when it comes to preparing for an earthquake is that they can strike at any time, and it’s this consideration that means you should look to ensure you’re covered whether at home, on the road or in the office.
The type of earthquake kit(s) you create will vary based on factors such as where you’re likely to be during a tremor as well as the specific needs of you and your household.
With this in mind, it’s important to remember that an earthquake kit, while always containing a core set of essential supplies across the board, will vary between people and will, to an extent, be highly personalized.
How many people are in your household? Do you have kids, a disability or pets? All of these factors will determine the components in your earthquake kit and mean that every kit is likely to look quite different on an individual basis.
Preparing an Earthquake Kit for Your Home
If you’re at home when an earthquake strikes, there are a number of essential things to do to ensure that you’re safe and from the immediate effects of the quake
How to Create a Home Earthquake Kit
The makeup of a home earthquake kit focuses primarily on the ability to ensure survival and then resilience during and immediately after a seismic event takes place.
As when preparing for other natural disasters, one of the most important things to ensure is that your home environment is fully equipped to help you respond to an emergency situation without hesitation.
In the first instance, this means making sure that your home contains the essentials for survival and emergency response and also is stocked with enough supplies and provisions to see you through potentially prolonged periods without access to the regular conveniences of modern living.
The priorities of survival take precedence here, meaning you need to ensure you have the foundations of physical safety, shelter, hydration, and nutrition covered before any other considerations come into play.
Home Earthquake Kit Essentials
Look to build a base-level home preparedness strategy that includes the following items to help you prepare for the immediate and after-effects of a major quake:
- Bottled Water (minimum one gallon a day for each person in your house – for at least 3 days and ideally for 2 weeks)
- Home Water Filtration System
- Portable Water Filter(s)
- Canned Food to Last a Minimum of Three Days for Every Member of Household
- Emergency Meal Kits
- Portable Stove and Spare Fuel
- Can Openers
Health and First Aid
- Comprehensive Emergency First Aid Kit
- First Aid Guide
- Prescriptions and Medication For All Family Members
- High-Quality Tactical Flashlight(s) and Spare Batteries
- Battery Operated Lanterns and Spare Batteries
- Hybrid Hand Crank/Solar/Battery Operated Radio and Spare Batteries
Preparing an Earthquake Kit for Use When Away From Home
In the event that a quake strikes when you’re away from home, it’s imperative that you’re able to react quickly and effectively to minimize the effects on you, increase your resilience and ultimately, maximize your survival chances.
Earthquakes can occur at any time and with this in mind, you simply can’t rule out the fact that a seismic event could take place when you’re at work, collecting the kids from school or picking up groceries.
With this consideration in mind, it’s vitally important that you make sure you have a strategy or plan in place to deal with this kind of emergency should it begin to go down when you’re away from home.
If you’re familiar with the idea of preparing an everyday carry kit (EDC), then you’ll know that the main concept is to ensure that you always have a handful of survival essentials on your person at all times, whether that’s in a purse or in your jacket pocket.
An EDC is a good place to start if you’re thinking of preparing an earthquake kit for carrying at all times and at a pinch will serve as a useful ally in the event of a major seismic event, often containing things like:
- A Pocket Flashlight
- Multi-tool or Swiss Army Knife (Check Local Laws Regarding Carrying)
- Audible Signal Device
The next step up from this of course, is to build-in extra layers of supplies and equipment in a small (and therefore portable) footprint which will exponentially increase your resilience levels and serve as a perfectly tailored contingency in the event of an earthquake.
With this in mind, putting together a dedicated, ‘Portable Earthquake Kit’ is an excellent idea if you live in an area at high risk of a quake or tsunami.
How to Create a Portable Earthquake Kit
As with all things preparedness related, more options is always better, and this rule holds true here.
If you can, look to assemble multiple kits that can be stored in different strategic locations, easily reachable whenever you’re away from home. Carry out a quick audit of the places you spend the most time when not at home and use this as your baseline.
Ask yourself the following questions:
“How often am I at X or Y locations?”
“What would I do if an earthquake struck while I was at X?”
Consider assembling multiple kits and keeping them in places such as:
- The glove box of your vehicle
- Your desk at work
- A friend’s or family member’s house
- In your pocket or bag – look to slimline this kit or alternatively keep an EDC as a minimum level of preparedness