According to the USGS, Each year the southern California area has about 10,000 earthquakes. Most of them are so small that they are not felt. Only several hundred are greater than magnitude 3.0, and only about 15-20 are greater than magnitude 4.0. If there is a large earthquake, however, the aftershock sequence will produce many more earthquakes of all magnitudes for many months. Scientists have not found a way to predict earthquakes and earthquakes have a nasty habit of occurring where a lot of people are living.
Just look at the image at the top of the page. Most of the western coast of North America is covered in earthquake activity. We don’t really doubt that if a big earthquake happens, our lives will be disrupted, but outside of the usual power outages and water main breaks, assuming our house hasn’t caved in, what other situations could we be looking at?
Earthquakes are probably the single most destructive force on the planet when you factor in damage caused by Tsunamis and the earthquake itself. In a serious quake, services such as power, water, communication, emergency response, gas, transportation could all be wiped out in a matter of a few terrifying seconds. If you live in one of those areas above with all the white circles, you have undoubtedly considered what you would do if an earthquake happens, but what do you need to plan for after the earthquake? I put together this earthquake survival list for those preppers who want to put a bag together and prepare for the possibility that their entire world comes crumbling down around them.
What do I do after an earthquake?
Before we get into the earthquake survival kit itself, you must first make sure everything is OK in the immediate minutes after the shock-waves have stopped.
- The initial shock-waves may only be the first of many that could still cause injuries. Expect aftershocks and use the time between instances to get to a safer place. If you are anywhere near the coast, Tsunamis could occur so immediately seek higher ground.
- Check your family or group for injuries and move injured people to a safe location.
- Make sure you are wearing appropriate clothing, footwear and protection for your hands if there is a lot of debris.
- Make sure any fires are extinguished as quickly as possible.
- Check radios for extent of the damage and any emergency notifications.
- You should already have stored water, but if not and the water is still working, it may make sense to fill your bathtubs (providing your house is safe) to use the water for hygiene if the water is cut off.
- Stay away from power lines and out of damaged buildings as much as possible.
- Contact your loved ones if possible and let them know you are OK.
- Go to your prearranged rally point if you are able to do this.
Earthquake Survival Kit List
You may be asking how an earthquake survival list is any different from say a Bug Out Bag. For many it may not be much different as we are addressing the same basic needs we all have as humans for survival. The contents of your earthquake survival kit can be stored in a backpack which could make transporting it simpler. Optionally, you could store all this gear somewhere in your home, but with that you risk not being able to retrieve it potentially if the neighbors garage falls on top of your storage area.
A sturdy Backpack will give you the greatest flexibility with mobility. If the situation is so bad that your home or location is unlivable, you may have to make it to a safer location. I like something like the Osprey Men’s Atmos 65 AG because it is so light and holds so much. It was a major relief on my last backpacking trip, you can get much cheaper backpacks though like the TETON Sports Scout 3400 Internal Frame Backpack – It’s a third of the price.
- I always recommend freeze-dried food for situations like this over something like canned food. It’s just lighter and only needs water for preparation. I go with higher-calorie options like Mountain House Chili Mac or Lasagna. Is this super healthy? Nope, but it’s light and will keep you going. Plus, you don’t need to bring along any bowls or plates – just eat right out of the bag. Bring enough for 5 days. You should augment with energy bars. You don’t have room to carry a month’s supply but you don’t know when the McDonalds is going to be back in business.
- Cook Stove – Yes, you could just start a fire, but a good camping stove is light, relatively cheap and much simpler. For the burner, I purchased an Etekcity Ultralight Portable Outdoor Backpacking stove for my last trip. This replaced my JetBoil Cooking System and I was very happy with the results. The Etekcity is only $10 and folds down to about the size of two decks of playing cards. I am seriously considering purchasing 5 of these and throwing each one in the bug out bags that are in the car to replace current gear. Just screw this to your fuel canister – which I used my JetBoil 230g canister – turn on the gas, light it and you are in business. It even has little feet to sit your pot on.
- Cook Pot – It’s much easier to boil water in a pot so I would throw my stove into a TOAKS Titanium pot. Super light and you can use this over a fire if needed.
- Can Opener – I have a can opener on my Leatherman Wave(along with 16 other tools), but you can save a lot of weight and cost by purchasing a few P38 Can openers. You can get them on Amazon, but if you are ever near an Army Navy Surplus store, just run in. They are much cheaper.
- Aluminum Foil – This can be used to grab hot surfaces or act as a cooking surface itself. Wrap food up in aluminum foil, set it near the fire for a little while, or even on top of your cook stove and give it a few minutes.
- Water Filter – There are so many water filtration options out there. I recommend a larger Platypus GravityWorks because it has no mechanical parts and will filter a lot of water quickly with not much effort. Optionally, the Saywer Mini is a great alternative. It’s smaller, but much more compact and the cost is much more reasonable for those preppers trying to save money. If you are only considering yourself, the Sawyer would be OK. For larger groups you need more capacity so I would go with a larger option like the Gravityworks.
- Something to carry your water in. I have two options and it just depends on which I would rather pack in the bag. A BPE Free Nalgene is a great, relatively cheap, lightweight option. Optionally, you could just use any old plastic water bottle you find in the trash (wash it out first). You could go with a stainless-steel water bottle, which would be great if you needed to boil water, but you can use the TOAKS cook pot above for that. You don’t want to carry your water in the TOAKS though, so I recommend something with a lid. The Platypus has an adaptor that screws right onto any wide-mouth Nalgene bottles.
- Clothing – Bring a change of clothes and two pair of socks. Good walking shoes should be on your feet. Depending on weather – Hat and Gloves
- Poncho and liner – This can double as shelter if you rig your poncho up as a shelter and with the liner will keep you warm. Or it makes a good pillow.
- Emergency BIvvy – If I leave this off the list, someone is going to complain. I like these better than the simple mylar blankets, but if you already have those, use them.
- Concealed Carry Firearm – All things being equal, I prefer to carry a firearm if I am forced to defend myself. Your mileage may vary. Carrying while wearing a backpack is a little tougher concealed and you might be tempted to run that drop-leg holster but I would seriously consider whether or not you want to advertise you are armed in a crisis like this.
- A good full-tang knife – Assume you already have a knife on you but a sturdier option would be better in this situation. I have the Gerber LMF II, but you can get a nice KA-BAR and save $10.
- Shotgun – As a backup, I would have a shotgun if I didn’t have a better option. Shotguns are cheaper and easily deployed in a violent situation to serious effect.
- Taser/Pepper Spray – For those who can’t or won’t carry a firearm, you can still protect yourself in many ways. Tasers are a good fall back, lightweight – non lethal, but you have to physically touch the person you don’t want to touch you. Pepper Spray is less effective but can still buy you time.
- Axe Handle – When all else fails, you may have to go Babe Ruth on someone’s cranium. Swing harder than you ever think it would take to knock someone out.
Miscellaneous Gear and Supplies
- Cash – ATM’s, Banks, Credit Card readers will all be out of commission for some period after the earthquake. Cash is still relatively easy to carry and store even in higher amounts. Diversify where you have your money (put some in each pocket and hide more somewhere else) so if you are pulling it out, nobody will see the whole wad.
- Ham Radio – Tons of information about the superiority of Ham radio in a disaster if you want to read this post.
- Backup ID, copies of Tax documents or bills proving your address.
- First Aid – There are so many first aid kits out there. You can choose between something more for Boo Boos or go to the other extreme and build your own IFAK.
- Spare Glasses – You could bring contacts, but I find that glasses irritate my eyes much less and are better in a pinch if there are eye irritants or injury.
- Toilet Paper
- Baby Wipes
- Hand Sanitizer
There are the basic items in an Earthquake survival kit that will give you an advantage if you ever find yourself riding out one in your life. These are just the most basic items I think could give you comfort in times of great crisis. There are always other items you could add.
What would you bring with you?