Earthquakes and aftershocks seem to make the news almost daily, with some areas reporting they are overdue for “The Big One” by 50 years or more. The truth is, we never know when a natural disaster like an earthquake could hit, disabling the infrastructure we rely on in our daily lives. For all our technical wizardry, the very best prediction systems still offer just a few seconds of warning before big tremors. The good news is that a little preparation will go a long way if or when the earth moves under your feet.
Water, Food, and Cooking
Water is the number one item on any survival list. To be as cautious as possible, store 14-21 gallons of water for each family member. That will give you a two to three week supply of one gallon each per day in an emergency. Remember this water isn’t just for drinking, it's also for cooking and keeping at least a little bit clean. Ideally, you should store water in stainless steel or glass containers. Water stored in plastic should be replaced every six months.
When considering food needs, assume you won’t have power to keep fresh food cold. Instead, rely on a solid supply of canned and dehydrated meals. Both of these items last a long time in storage—just pay attention to "use by" dates and keep your supply at least a year ahead of expiration.
For cooking, you’ll need some kind of fuel source. This can be wood for fires, or white gas or propane for stoves. Don't assume you’ll be able to use your home stove, which won’t work if you lose power or your natural gas lines are affected by the quake. Stockpile some pots, pans, utensils, cups, and plates, along with a can opener, cooking knife, and towels.
Power and Heat
A few days without power can be very inconvenient. If you get hit with a sustained outage, keep your fridge and freezer closed to insulate the cold as long as possible. Cook frozen and refrigerated items before digging into packaged and dehydrated options. If your power outage lasts longer than a few days, you'll be happy if you have a generator on hand. Keep enough fuel stored to run it for a few weeks in a worst case scenario. Change out any backup gas every six months.
If you have a fireplace or wood stove, keep your wood supply well stocked. If you don’t have one, figure out another heating source for emergencies. This might include electric space heaters if you have a generator, or indoor propane heaters if you don’t. It's also a good idea to have a stash of warm blankets and sleeping bags.
Hand Crank Radio
In case your power runs out, you should have a device that can receive emergency information from government airwaves. Hand crank radios don't rely on batteries, so you don't have to worry about expired power sources to charge them.
Flashlights or Lanterns
If you don't have a generator, you'll need a source of light for night time. Like radios, both flashlights and lanterns are available in hand-crank varieties, so you don't need to rely on batteries or gas.
Once you have the basics of food, water, and heat covered, create a grab and go bag of personal items you may need. This should include layers of clothing, medications, eye glasses, any medical aids you rely on, moist towelettes, and close-toed shoes. If you have children to take care of, prep them some bags too.
If you find yourself without power and water, you’ll be making do with what you have, which means relying on alternate fuels and adapting things as needed. Make sure you have easy access to basic tools like an axe, hammers, wrenches, screwdrivers, sockets, flashlights and other lighting, batteries and back-up batteries, a fire-extinguisher, multi-purpose knife, and walkie-talkies.
Prep and store a first aid kit that includes bandages, antibiotic ointment, rubbing alcohol, aspirin, cold compresses, gloves, gauze, and tweezers. If anyone in your family has life-threatening allergies, make sure your medications are current. If you live near a nuclear power plant, consider picking up some iodine tablets. In the event of a meltdown, they can help reduce the danger from radiation.
During an emergency, the ATM might not be working, and your debit card won't process payment. Always keep some cash around to pay for incidentals.
Water and food - 14-21 gallons per person
Cooking Supplies - pots, pans, utensils, cups, plates, can opener, cooking knife, and towels
Tool Box - axe, hammers, wrenches, screwdrivers, sockets, flashlights and other lighting, batteries and back-up batteries, a battery or hand-crank transistor radio, fire-extinguisher, multi-purpose knife, and walkie-talkies
First aid kit - bandages, antibiotic ointment, rubbing alcohol, aspirin, cold compresses, gloves, gauze, tweezers, needle and thread, medical handbook
Gasoline - for generator, quad, motorcycle, or car
Dawn Hammon has thrived in freelance writing and editor roles for nearly a decade. She has lived, worked, and attended school in Oregon for many years. Dawn currently spends her days convincing her children she is still smarter than them while creating new experiences with her husband of 24 years.&nbsp;
Her multiple interests have led her to frequently undergo home improvement projects. She enjoys sharing the hard-earned knowledge that comes with it with the audience of DoItYourself.com. Dawn and her sister make up a power-tool loving duo that teaches classes to local women with the goal of empowering them to tackle their fears and become comfortable with power tools.
Tapping into her enthusiasm for saving money and devotion to sustainable practices, Dawn has recently launched a passion project aimed at connecting eco-friendly products and socially-responsible companies with consumers interested in making conscientious purchases, better informing themselves about products on the market, and taking a stand in favor of helping to save the planet.
When she is not providing stellar online content for local, national, and international businesses or trolling the internet for organic cotton clothing, you might find her backpacking nearby hills and valleys, traveling to remote parts of the globe, or expanding her vocabulary in a competitive game of Scrabble.
Dawn holds a bachelor's degree in psychology, which these days she mostly uses to provide therapy for her kids and spouse. Most recently, I worked for a small local professional organizing and estate sale company for four years where I learned a ton about organizing and/or disposing of just about anything.
She was raised in a tool-oriented, hands-on, DIY family. Her dad worked in the floor covering business and owned local floor covering businesses, so of course selling floor covering was one of her first jobs. Her brother was a contractor for about 30 years and site supervisor for Habitat for Humanity. I worked with him often, building decks, painting houses, framing in buildings, etc. With her sister, she holds power tool classes to empower women who are scared or have never used them.
Not quite homesteaders, she did grow up with a farm, tractors, motorcycles, expansive gardens, hay fields, barns, and lots of repairs to do. Plus she and her family preserved foods, raised cattle and pigs, chopped and hauled firewood, and performed regular maintenance on two households, outbuildings, fencing, etc.
As an adult, she has owned two houses. The first one she personally ripped out a galley kitchen and opened it up to the living area, plus updated every door, floor covering, and piece of trim in the place. In her current home, she's tackled everything from installing real hardwood flooring to revamping the landscape.
H.R. Helm is an accomplished DIY craftsman. He has been DIY since childhood and is now a septuagenarian. He is experienced in wood and metal construction, having designed and built several houses and metal buildings. He built every permanent building on his current homestead and did all the plumbing and electrical work.
He has several years experience as a professional cabinet builder, and he is an accomplished auto repairman, having operated an auto repair business for many years. He currently has a home shop where he sharpens and rebuilds saws, repairs lawn mowers, mobility scooters, hydraulic jacks, and anything else that comes along. He also builds custom tools for metal working.
Invention prototypes are another of his many accomplishments. He owned and operated a manufacturing business building Compact Utility Vehicles for homeowner use. H.R. enjoys making jams and jellies during fruit season along with cooking meals. He is committed to outdoor cooking in a Bar-B-Q pit he welded together several years ago. He maintains fruit and nut trees along with helping his wife with a vegetable garden. He farmed commercial garden produce for several years. It helps to have over 50 years of farming and ranching experience.
ASE Certified Master Auto Technician
Cross country truck driver -- over dimensional freight
Design Engineer/Project Manager for injection molded plastic company
Bus Driver/Substitute Teacher
Inventor with two patents (weight training &ndash; anti-rollback for manual wheelchair)
BS in Industrial Technology