One lesson we can immediately learn from the devastating earthquake in Japan of March 11, 2011 about how to survive an earthquake is that you should be prepared with some basic supplies in an earthquake survival kit to have on hand when an earthquake hits.
Often an earthquake displaces people from their homes and also disrupts power supplies. If you think about all the things you have in your home, and all the things you need to survive, and all the things you use in your day-to-day life, and now imagine that you are separated from your home – you are also separated from:
- Your shelter (your home)
- Your food and water
- Cooking supplies
- Your clothes
- Your medicine
- Your power and communications
- Various items
In order to survive an earthquake you should put together an earthquake survival kit in a backpack or bag of supplies that you can get to in a moments notice in an emergency situation that will contain an emergency supply of these vital needs in it. We will now discuss the important earthquake survival kit contents.
Earthquake Survival Kit Checklist
Your earthquake survival kit should include a tent or large tarp (or tarps) to use as a temporary shelter in case your home is destroyed. Choose a tent large enough to house all of the members of your household.
In addition to a place to sleep, you will also need blankets or a sleeping bag to stay warm at night.
Food and Water
Your earthquake survival kit should include at least 1 day’s supply of food and water for each member of your household – and preferably a 3 day supply or more of food and water. If your home is destroyed, you are dislocated from your home, or there is widespread devastation from the earthquake then food and water supplies will be very scarce. Safe drinking water will also be scarce so it is important to have a supply of drinking water as well as water treatment tablets and/or a water filter.
You should choose foods that are dehydrated, will last for a long time as they may be stored for a long time in your earthquake survival kit, and are easy to prepare. Try to pick out foods that don’t have to be cooked, or require minimal cooking. Canned foods are a good candidate but they are much heavier than dehydrated foods.
Here is a list of suggested food and water items to pack in your earthquake survival kit:
- protein bars
- dehydrated soups
- dried oatmeal
- dried rice
- powdered beans
- powdered eggs
- powdered milk
- water purification tablets and/or water filter
- bottled water
- beef and chicken bullion cubes
- peanut butter
- spoons and forks
- plastic bowls and plates
And now we pause briefly for station identification. If you are reading this guide on any other site other than USGSHandbook.com, this guide to how to make an earthquake survival kit was written by, and originally appeared on the USGS Handbook website.
It is important to include cooking supplies in your earthquake survival kit so you can prepare the foods that you have packed.
At the very least, you will need a medium to large sized pot to boil water, some sturdy plastic plates, some cups/water bottles for drinking, and enough spoons for everyone in your household (if you only pack one utensil, pack spoons – it does it all.).
You will also need a grate or grill to cook on over an open fire or portable stove.
Be sure to pack waterproof matches and a portable cook stove, as well as enough fuel for your stove to last 3-5 days.
Review the foods that you have packed and make sure that you have all of the utensils, cookware, and other cooking materials you might need to prepare them.
To review, the cooking supplies you will need for your earthquake survival kit are:
- pot for boiling water
- plastic plates
- plastic bowls
- plastic drinking cups or water bottles
- grate or grill
- waterproof matches
- portable cook stove
- stove fuel
Imagine that you had to leave your home in terrible weather conditions – cold and rain – and you had to wear the same clothes for several days. This is the reality that people who are displaced from their homes by an earthquake face, like the people in Japan who were struck by a massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.
You should pack the following clothes in your earthquake survival kit for each member of your household:
- Rain-jacket, poncho, or other waterproof jacket with a hood.
- Rain pants or other waterproof pants.
- Warm sweater. Preferably wool or fleece, because these materials still keep you warm even when they are wet.
- Socks. Pack 1-2 changes of clean, warm, dry socks.
Depending on the amount of space you have in your earthquake survival kit, you can also pack other clothes that are appropriate for your geographic area and/or a complete change of clothes (pants, shirt, underwear, etc).
Medicine and First Aid Supplies
If you or any member of your household takes any prescription or over-the-counter medications on a daily basis, you should include a 3-5 day supply of these medications in your earthquake survival kit.
If you take insulin or blood pressure medications, this part of your earthquake survival kit could mean the difference between life and death.
If you take over the counter medications like acid-reflux medications or allergy medicines, it may not be a life-saver, but will make your life a whole lot easier.
Earthquake First Aid Kit Supplies
In addition to any medications you take regularly, you should include some regular household medicines and first aid supplies:
- aspirin, tylenol, and/or ibuprofen
- anti-diarrheal medicines
- bandages and band-aids
- sterile gauze
- medical tape
- betadine or povidone iodine cleanser
Power and Communications
It is essential to include some basic communication gear in your earthquake survival kit:
- Portable battery powered/crank powered AM/FM radio
- Mobile phone
- Extra batteries for your phone
- Solar charger for your mobile phone
Here are some more essential items that don’t fall into the above categories, but are no less important.
- toilet paper. Be sure to bring enough for all members of your household, and a 3-5 day supply.
- magnesium flint (firestarter)
- utility cord/paracord
- duct tape
- map of your local area
- map of your earthquake evacuation route
- plastic sheeting. This is useful for covering your gear to keep it dry, or for creating makeshift shelters.
- contact information. Keep phone numbers and addresses of family and friends in your earthquake survival kit.
- important documents (driver’s license,passports,bank information, credit cards, property deeds – basically any documents you don’t want to lose. While the best place to keep these documents is in a safe deposit box, if you don’t have them stored there, it is best to bring them with you instead of leaving them behind in an evacuation scenario.)
Now, this is a lot of gear to get together, but most of these things are already in your home, you just need to gather them all together in one bag for easy access. If you follow these directions, you will have the best earthquake survival kit possible.
For more information about putting together your own earthquake survival kit, check out this FEMA link on Basic Disaster Supplies: FEMA Link