October marks the 27th anniversary of the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake. Each October I pull out my kit, take inventory of my supplies, and replace / add needed supplies. This is a great time to either update your earthquake kit or, if you don’t yet have one, to start it. It is better to have even a small kit pulled together before the next emergency happens. I have spent years building and modifying my kit, often adding items as I think of them.
A kit is only part of preparedness. Think about your home surroundings. For example, I recently installed upper cabinet latches. I also have a plan to meet up with loved ones in case we are not together at the time of the quake. We have a designated meeting place and a period of time in which to arrive. Keep in mind that it might take a long time to reach the meeting point due to obstacles.
If you have a car, it’s a good idea to keep it at least half filled with gas at all times. If a quake happens, and you need to leave town, you can’t be sure the gas stations will be operational.
Items already in my kit
- Clothes / shoes – You may not be dressed for the elements when the quake happens. Pack layers and thick-soled shoes. Remember: There may be a lot of glass and rubble in the streets.
- Food – I tasted one of the ‘food’ bricks that come in a kit. Yuck! I purchased MRE’s (meals ready to eat). They are better tasting and often come with other supplies like the all-important coffee and little bottles of Tabasco, which makes everything more palatable.
- Water – Definitely pack a case or two of water bottles, but that will run out eventually. I recently purchased a water filtration kit that allows you to drink nearly any type of polluted water.
- Additional first aid – I noticed after a recent kitchen accident how inadequate my own first aide supplies were. I also noticed how expensive said supplies can be. I decided to slowly upgrade that portion of the kit. Plus now it helps with kitchen accidents. You should be prepared for more than just minor cuts and burns. Buff up your kit with bigger bandages and gauze, burn gels, and clotting gel in case of serious injury.
- Pet supplies – Don’t forget your pets. I have dog food, a harness, and leashes for our dog. A bonus is purchasing dog booties, because, again, there could be lots of broken glass on the streets.
- Games, books and other non-electronic entertainment – What else are you going to do if you don’t have power? Save your iPhone power for necessary communication, not Candy Crush.
- Small bottles of booze – You might want a drink, or use them for trade.
- Cash – A few hundred dollars in small bills, singles, fives and tens, are a good idea. The ATMs may not be working.
Next up for me to do
- Post-earthquake plan – It is important to have a post earthquake plan for meeting loved ones and contacting friends / family outside of the area. It can take upwards of 24 hours to get across San Francisco if roads are not passable or other issues necessitate taking ‘the long way home’.
- SF 72 – SF72 is your hub for emergency preparedness. You’ll find information about what to do in an emergency, simple steps to get connected, and useful guides to help you get prepared.
It can happen close to you
SF Business Times created this great graphic showing the Bay Area’s biggest earthquakes.