Quick… what’s the first thing you think of when you hear California? EARTHQUAKES!
I was unlucky enough to have lived through the Northridge Earthquake in 1994 to know that I NEVER want to go through that again. Scary doesn’t even begin to describe the feeling of waking up in the early hours of the morning to my bed moving back and forth and the large picture over my bed (complete with glass frame) swaying on the wall. I had a cracked living room wall, broken water heater, lost most of my dishes and a had bookshelf that fell in front of my front door preventing me from actually escaping my house.
But… even all these years later, I am STILL unprepared if the Big One should strike again. How can this be? I have a family now, children, pets and I have no safety net in place if we are ever without power and are stuck in our home for days. And if we can’t return to our home… well, then, I’m even less prepared for that.
Since September is National Emergency Preparedness Month I told my husband it was finally time to get this situation in order. We are on a mission (a family mission) to be prepared in case of an earthquake or any other natural or man-made disaster.
I’ve been asking around for people’s best tips and I’ve come up with a few resources and suggestions to help us… and hopefully they’ll help you as well.
These are some of the basic (and not so basic) things you should absolutely have on hand:
1. Water. I can’t stress enough how important having water is. Ideally you need a gallon of water/per person/per day for 3 days.
2. Flashlight. I think this goes without saying that if it’s dark, you might want to see where you are going. More than one flashlight would be good, especially if you have kids who will want one of their own. Stock extra batteries WITH the flashlights, not inside the flashlights. Corroded flashlights aren’t going to help anybody.
3. Food. While water will keep you hydrated, you will most likely be hungry. If all your food in the fridge goes bad (and it will) then you’ll want canned food and pre-packed foods like granola bars and cereal bars. Make sure you stock food that your family will actually like. Nothing worse than having a kid complaining that they hate canned beans when that’s all you stocked. And… if you are stocking canned food… how about throwing in a can opener as well? Ever try and open a can without one? Not pretty.
4. Blankets. In the middle of winter, without heat, it could get very cold. Although you probably have a ton of blankets inside your house, make sure you have some tucked away near your emergency supplies. If you have to grab them and run, you don’t want to be stumbling through your house with a flashlight collecting quilts off the beds.
5. Transistor Radio. Yes, they DO still make them. Pick one up along with a few batteries. Again, store batteries outside of the radio.
6. First Aid Kit. Hopefully this is one of those things you will never have to use, but have it anyway. Antiseptic cleaner, band-aids, a larger bandage and even an ace bandage would be great. Also throw in some pain reliever pills. Headaches are a bitch in an emergency.
7. Money. Always have a stash of cash in your emergency kit. If there is no power, you might just need it to help pay for food at your local store or to pay for someone to drive you somewhere. You just never know when that money will come in handy. ATM’s run on power you know.
8. Cell Phone Charger. No, not for inside your home. For your CAR. Without power, you can’t use your home phone. Without power you can’t charge your cell phone inside. But… your car can charge it up for you if need be. It might be your only communication source so make sure you have a charger in your car.
9. Maps. Sure, you think you know your way in and out of town. In an emergency, many of the freeways might be closed down so your only way out could be side roads you have never traveled on. Bring a map of your city AND your state. Just in case. Couldn’t hurt.
10. Pets. Please, don’t forget that you might have pets just as scared as you are. Make sure THEY have plenty of food and water as well. And toys. And blankets. Whatever your pet might need to feel cozy and loved.
11. Tarp. I don’t know why, but in every disaster kit there is always some kind of tarp. Great for rain to keep everything dry, I guess.
12. Extra set of clothes and shoes. During the Northridge Earthquake I had to get out of my house and I didn’t have any shoes on. Couldn’t find them in my mad dash to escape. Also… I was in my pajamas. Luckily they were the cotton flannel kind. But, you never know. Extra clothes are good.
There are endless amounts of things you could put into an emergency kit so if you want to look further, here are some great resources.
I am getting nothing for writing about National Disaster Preparedness Month but it is something that is important to me. I don’t endorse any of the above resources, I just wanted to provide a little assistance if you are considering preparing your own emergency kit.