Are You Prepared for the Next Quake?


The recent quake in Napa County is as a reminder that we should all be prepared for the next quake. In the days after the earthquake I heard many friends say that they were finally pulling together their earthquake kits. As more time passes from the last quake it is easy to put other priorities ahead of preparedness.   I was here for the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake and I use that anniversary as a reminder to check, add to, and reassess my kit. Knowing your neighbors and community, having an earthquake kit and having a plan is key to surviving and dealing with the aftermath of a major quake. It's a good idea to keep one bigger kit at home, plus smaller kits at work and in the car, in case you're not home when the quake strikes. If you do have a car, it's also smart to keep your tank at least half-full at all times. If you need to leave the city, it might be a long drive before you find a functional gas station. Also, don't bury your home kit in a closet somewhere. Keep it in accessible place close to the front door, so you can grab it in a hurry. Be sure to make a plan, and communicate it to everyone, Where will you meet in the event of a big quake? How long will you wait? Know the plan and stick to it. For the kits, of course you need food, water, shelter, and first aide supplies; that is what all the websites and agencies tell you.  It is easy to buy a pre-assembled kit, which is better than nothing, but think about what you really need to make you safe and comfortable after the shaking has stopped. Here are some items that I have in my kit that don't come in the pre-assembled kits.

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 can in a kit. Yuck! I purchased military 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 aide - 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 Reese. 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


  • 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.
  • Ready -  Handy earthquake preparedness checklists.
  • LA Times -  Nice infographics on preparedness.

Become Involved

NERT is a free training program for individuals, neighborhood groups and community-based organizations in San Francisco.  Through this program, individuals will learn the basics of personal preparedness and prevention.  The training also includes hands-on disaster skills that will help individuals respond to a personal emergency as well as act as members of a neighborhood response team. The SF Fire Departments Neighborhood Emergency Response Team (NERT) training is offered many time throughout the year.

What to do during and after an earthquake

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It will eventually happen close to you!

SF Business Times created this great graphic showing the Bay Area's biggest earthquakes. quakemap

Fun Factsdpaul