Prepare for earthquakes with a personal and household disaster kit

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earthquake disaster kitThe last great San Andreas earthquake shook Southern California 153 years ago and ruptured more than 225 miles of the fault from Central California to the Cajon Pass. Scientists agree that a very large earthquake along this fault is inevitable and will likely be a catastrophic disaster.

Earthquakes, like yesterday’s Ocotillo quake and April’s Mexicali quake, remind Southern California residents that their homes are built on a shaky foundation. If you haven’t done so already, now is a great time to prepare an earthquake kit. A little knowledge and a few precautionary measures can enormously increase your chances of surviving an earthquake.

To make an earthquake kit, start by stocking up on emergency personal supplies. 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, including quarters for the pay phone
  • 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, toiletries and special provisions you need for yourself and others in your family including elderly, disabled, small children, and animals
  • Comfort items such as games, crayons, writing materials, teddy bears
  • Copies of personal identification (drivers license, work ID card, etc.)
  • Bank account numbers and copies of important family records

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)
  • Wrenches and basic tools 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
  • 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
  • Comfortable, warm clothing including extra socks
  • Blankets or sleeping bags, and perhaps even a tent
  • Copies of vital documents such as insurance policies

Lastly, it’s wise to set up an out-of-state emergency contact for your family. After a disaster, it’s often easier to call long distance. Add the name, address, and phone number of the contact person to your emergency earthquake kit.

These lists are for a basic emergency earthquake kit. Your kit may be different based on the specific needs of your family. Use and replace perishable items like water, food, medications and batteries on a yearly basis.

For information about what to do during an earthquake, check out

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