While most people think of California when they hear about earthquakes, the reality is that earthquakes can strike many areas of the country. From Alaska to South Carolina, active fault zones can lead to earthquakes. If you’re not prepared, you’ll likely end up dazed, confused, and with no idea how to cope. Here are some of the items you’ll need to have stockpiled to prepare for the effects of an earthquake.
Earthquakes can burst water supply lines and put water treatment facilities out of commission. After a severe earthquake, it might be a long time before tap water returns. Make sure you have at least one week worth of water, and preferably a supply that will last you two weeks.
Grocery stores may be devastated, filled with broken glass jars and rotting perishable food. Make sure you have at least a week or two worth of food stocked up, preferably non-perishables such as pasta, crackers, peanut butter, and canned foods, since you may lose electrical power.
In a severe earthquake your home may be destroyed, or at least structurally compromised. You’ll have to be prepared to stay outside until your home can be inspected or repaired. Having a tent, sleeping bags, or some other way to protect yourself from the elements outdoors will come in handy.
4. First Aid & Sanitation
Make sure you have plenty of band-aids, antibiotic creams, over the counter painkillers, etc. Treat minor injuries yourself if you can and let the hospitals deal with the severely injured and dying.
Flashlights and batteries to run them will be highly in demand. It’s very likely that you may need those flashlights to search through rubble to find survivors, or to light your way at night since streetlights may be knocked out. Don’t discount candles, matches, and other means of providing light too.
You’ll need brooms to sweep away dust, shovels to scoop up debris, and axes to break up large pieces of concrete. Hammers, nails, screwdrivers, and screws can come in handy to built temporary wooden shelters. Make sure you also have a crescent wrench to turn off your gas line to prevent a fire. Remember that the fires following the great 1906 San Francisco earthquake caused more destruction than the quake itself.
7. Communications Gear
Landlines will be down and cell phone towers may have collapsed. Having a two-way radio may be the only way you can communicate with your loved ones. Think about keeping a small battery- or solar-powered radio to monitor emergency frequencies and get updates on quake damage and relief efforts.
8. Repair Gear
You should have plenty of plastic sheets and duct tape on hand. Plastic sheets can cover broken windows or can be propped up elsewhere to provide temporary coverage from the rain. Duct tape has a number of uses in repairing things or holding broken items together.
9. Storage Totes
If you’re able to save your most important possessions, especially important paperwork, you’ll likely want to keep them dry. A plastic storage tote will do the trick.
If power is out, credit card processing won’t work. Cash will be the only form of money you’ll be able to use, so make sure you have plenty of it on hand. It will be especially important to have small bills since not everyone will have enough small change on hand to break a $20 bill.