Checklist for Earthquake Preparation Kit

hand crank radio

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.

water jugs

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.

Personal Supplies

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.

tools on a wooden table

First Aid

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.

Checklist Recap

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

Eyeglasses and other medical aids

Warm clothes & sturdy shoes

Wood, white gas, or propane

Flashlights or Lanterns

Hand Crank Radio

Space heaters

Sleeping bags