Riverside Property Management Blog

Earthquake Emergency Kit - What Do You Need?

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Here in Southern California, like many places in the world, one thing everyone should have is an earthquake emergency kit. There are approximately 10,000 quakes annually just in California. Earthquakes, a violent act involving the movement and tearing of the planet's crust, are a natural disaster waiting to happen, so much so that there is a whole month, April, devoted to earthquake preparedness. Think about it; you cannot forecast an earthquake, aside from general terms. You cannot see them coming, like a tornado. There are no reliable ways, yet, to prepare besides simply preparing for them. April is Earthquake preparedness month, so, what should you prep in advance?

The List part 1

I'm going to go a little different direction here as to what you need a prepare in advance of an earthquake. This list is in addition to the actual preparedness list, and some are items many people do not think about.

  • A way to get home
  • A designated meet-up place and plans to get there
  • Half a tank of gas or better at all times in your vehicles
  • A cell phone and associated chargers and accessories

thomas guide

A Way To Get Home

So, my wife is a smart lady. I have to say that, she knows where I sleep, but that's okay though, it's true. One thing I have never thought about up to the time she asked me was, "How would you get home from work in the event of an earthquake?" My simplistic answer was, "Well, um, I'd drive home?"
 I had not even considered the consequences of infrastructure damage. Like my wife, I now think about all the various bridges I cross regularly. Not only that, but I also have developed about 20+ different potential routes home in the event of a shaker.

Part of an earthquake emergency kit should be a plan of travel, Kids in school? How are you going to get to them? What could potentially keep you from being able to? How are you going to plan around this? Develop it and drive it. And...

Have a designated meetup place for loved ones

The “Have A Way Home” above actually involves more than just your path, but others as well. However, you ought to also have a designated place for all your loved ones to meet up at. Since geography varies from area to area, it is not possible in the limited space I have here, I do advise picking a place that makes sense. The local mall is probably not an ideal place to meet up after an earthquake. Furthermore, choose somewhere that will likely not be obstructed by falling debris, power lines, and such, and is easy vehicle access.

gas tank

Half a tank of gas (or better) at all times in your vehicles

This rule is sensible for so many reasons beyond earthquake preparedness. In other words, you should follow this rule of thumb no matter, just due to sediment that can clog your fuel filter.

However, in the event of a massive tremor, fuel supplies could be minimal. Tank breaches and lack of power to pump fuel are concerns, sure, but there is more. You could well have to live in your vehicle for some time. Heating and cooling your space requires running your vehicle, which requires fuel. So, does getting yourself to a safe spot, or civilization. And, you are going to need to charge you...

Cell Phone. And Associated Chargers and Accessories

Any earthquake emergency kit and preparations ought to also include that which you use every day, such as your cell phone. By the way, if you do not have one, join us here in the 21st century.

Anyway, just for the record, yes, I'm aware that the cell phone infrastructure could very well be damaged/down for a while after a massive quake, but that does not mean it will stay down. Be it a minor earthquake, or major shaker, being in touch with loved ones, friends, schools, hospitals, colleagues, and such will be crucial. Without a cell phone, you could very well experience life as it were in 1899.

By the way, when the world, home, office, mall starts swaying, get under something substantial BEFORE posting "Oh, earthquake!" on Facebook as one does.

Have all you need for your device as well. Headset, flashlight app, charger, you know what I mean. It's just a brick if you cannot charge it.


The List part 2

This part of the list is the meat and potatoes of an earthquake emergency kit. In the event of a major seismic event, your basic needs, and that of your family must be met. An earthquake emergency kit, well thought out, can make this a lot easier.

This scene is like many survival scenarios, with the added certainty that the region is in complete chaos. Collapsed homes, destroyed businesses, fires, bridges out, the power grid down, this is a big deal. Plan for the worst….

 Let's see what we need here.

  • Shelter
  • Food and Water
  • Medical supplies
  • A flashlight that ISN'T your phone
  • Back up batteries
  • A whistle and mirror
  • Water-resistant matches
  • Real paper maps of the region
  • Some household supplies
  • Paper and pens/pencils, as well as reading materials


First, meet your basic needs first, as I stated above. Your home may have collapsed. If not, and it is safe, you're all set here. However, you just may be camping for a while after a major earthquake.

If you have camping gear, store it somewhere that you can get to it in the event of an emergency. The equipment can double as part of your earthquake emergency kit.

A tent is a great thing to have, and you can set it up almost anywhere. A sleeping bag for each of your family will help. A portable stove and utensils will be a luxury after a cataclysmic natural disaster. You'll also need fuel for the stove, be it propane, alcohol, or kerosene fired. You can survive quite a while without all the above by making a lean-to at the least, but you will not survive long without...

Food and water

Years ago, at an old job, a former Marine I worked with was giving away boxes of military rations. I don't know how he came to have these MRE's (Meals - Ready To Eat), I didn't ask. By the way, they were delicious! Okay, pretty good. Alright, alright, they were edible.

I added these to my camping gear and have since cycled them out; they do have a shelf life.

You can go to pretty much any sporting goods store, or military surplus store, and buy pretty decent "Just Add Water" food to store for an emergency.  Just google "earthquake kits" now, not after a shaker.

Now, you may not be in a position to buy a fancy-schmancy earthquake kit. That's okay; you can also gather up a stock of non-perishables, or extended shelf life foods. Beef jerky, while delicious, also lasts a long time. Power bars, granola bars, items like this last a long time, but be sure you regularly ROTATE this stock. Use the old, add new in a FIFO (first-in, first-out) manner.

Okay, now, I'm about to reveal that I'm a freak. I have developed an unhealthy and unnatural love for Spaghettios with Meatballs. There, I said it. I pop a can open and gobble it all down cold. Don't judge; it's delicious! Guess what canned product makes up a good portion of my earthquake emergency kit?

Have enough food on hand for three days at a minimum.

As far as water, keeping three days, at least, is ideal, and a good idea anyway. That would be a gallon a day for everyone depending on it. Be sure to rotate this item as well, use the old, get more to replenish.

Do not forget about your children, or pets, in this prep!

first aid

Medical Supplies

I'm not talking a surgical suite here, just a first aid kit, AND any medications you or your party regularly need to take, to, you know, keep living.

A Real Flashlight

I don't want to have to explain this, but I will anyway. Almost everyone has a cell phone today, and even if you do, and have a flashlight application, get and keep a real flashlight at the ready. Trust me; when it all goes south, you'll thank goodness you have this in your earthquake emergency kit. And don't forget about backup (fresh) batteries either. Do be sure to rotate your stock of batteries. Have batteries for your flashlights, and any other items you need that take batteries.

A whistle and Mirror

Signaling for help may save your life, and you may not be in a position to yell for help, and besides, that only carries so far. However, a whistle is audible for a lot of further distance than the human voice. It's also a distinctive sound.

A mirror is a very effective method of signaling rescuers and searches aircraft over a long distance. You can also use a mirror to start a fire if need be. Google it, see if I'm right. You can use this fire to cook, or need to start a signal fire, should you not have any...

Water-resistant matches

We learned how to make these by melting wax back in Boy Scouts. Google it to find out how. But, if you prefer to buy them, you can get this ready-made, or other water-resistant match kits, at camping stores and most sporting goods shops.

Real paper maps

So the big quake just hit, and you need to get from point A to B. Try to bring up Google Maps, and, oh, wow, it's not coming up. Your cell phone is low on power, and the network is down. Not to worry, that old standby is on your glove box, right... reach in and grab the...stuff that is everything except a map.

Get a map of the areas you travel, leading from home to work. A real map, like a Thomas Guide, that way you can guide yourself from here to there, and even see trails you. Google would never put you on but could save your skin. There are a good many mapped roads that you can travel to get around trouble spots, but first, you must have a paper map to route yourself. Your cell phone may not have a connection, or what if you cannot charge it?

earthquake kit

Some Household Supplies

This list is pretty much a no-brainer; however, most people don't think about some of these items. In your camping supplies, or otherwise set aside, there are items you will need. You ought to have a can opener, paper towels, toilet paper, toothbrush and toothpaste, clothing, jackets. Should you have cans of food, how will you open them? What about plates, plastic cutlery? A well-stocked earthquake emergency kit is out to have all you need. Write it all out and confirm that you will have everything you need!

Paper and pens/pencils, reading materials

Right, so, have you ever watched the walking dead? Books and such are valued pretty highly. In any catastrophe, such as a major earthquake (or even a zombie apocalypse) there will be, inevitably, downtime.

Pack away light items to keep yourself, and your kids, entertained. You will probably notice that after a few hours of not having FaceTwit, or whatever, your hands will begin trembling, your voice will get harsh, and your head will ache. Or not.

The point is, you will be disconnected from the larger electronic world that we all have become accustomed to. No email. Zero social media. No Instagram, bye bye twitter. You will have the perfect scene in front of you that you want to share, but won't be able to. On that note, carrying a regular ol' camera may be a brilliant idea. Magazines, books, etc. could well save your sanity and that of your family or group.

When It Happens

In many places it's not IF a major earthquake is coming, but WHEN. Quakes are not like tornadoes; you can see those coming and going the other way. There's a season for those and hurricanes. Temblors can happen any old time they like, and there's not much you can do about it. However, having an emergency earthquake kit can be the difference between surviving, and being another casualty.

Don't you owe it to yourself and your family to prepare? Download this checklist before you head to the store to prepare your kit.