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A Truly Useful Earthquake Preparedness Kit Checklist


There are hardcore Ninja preppers that have very logical and reasonable reasons for including radiation tabs, personal protective suits, and rifles with night vision in their preparations, but the truth is your earthquake emergency kit will rely mostly on common sense articles such as food, water, clothing, and essential tools like a flashlight and some sort of shelter. So, cutting through the BS, what’s actually useful to have on hand for prep? Let’s take a look.

How Real is an Earthquake Emergency?

US Geological Survey (USGS) statistics show there are 1469 earthquakes of a magnitude higher than 5 on the Richter scale every year, and a magnitude of 5 is when the dangers of power outages and older/fragile building collapsing start. West Coast folks know how real it can be:

In the ’89 earthquake we were without power and water for a few days or more. Telephones didn’t work (no cell phones back then). “Liquifaction” caused buildings in the Marina to slid off their foundations. The Bay Bridge was out of service for months. Then came the Northridge quake. Having an earthquake kit is being prepared. – /u/honkeykat on Reddit

However, it is easy to ignore or undervalue dangers that you grow up with, and it seems like earthquakes are particularly bad on that front. If you grew up in an area frequently impacted by tremors, dont let your guard down.

CDC Tips for Earthquake Preparedness and Survival

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends preparation, planning, and practice. Far in advance, you can gather emergency supplies, identify and reduce possible hazards in your home, and practice what to do during and after an earthquake. Learning what actions to take can help you and your family to remain safe and healthy in the event of an earthquake.

The most common scenario in an earthquake emergency is to find cover in case of roof or building collapse. Keep the drop-cover-hold on method in mind:

Preparing Your Home

It’s crucial to take steps to safeguard your home in the event of an earthquake emergency. Ensure that chimney and roof have no loose tiles or bricks, anchor items like bookcases, armoires, and TVs into the wall studs, know how to quickly turn off your gas, electricity, and water, and attach a valve wrench and label to your water line. See the helpful infographic below, prepared by the CDC:

Click to see a higher-resolution version of this infographic in PDF format

If you’re in your car – stop quickly and safely, set the parking brake, and stay in the car until the shaking stops. Stay away from utility poles, overhead wires, and under/overpasses.

If you’re outside – Get down low and stay there until the shaking stops. Stay outside and move away from buildings, wires, sinkholes, and fuel and gas lines.

Basics of an Earthquake Survival Kit


  1. Water: consider stacking several water bricks and a few boxes of emergency drinking water.
  2. First Aid Kit: make sure the items in your 1st aid kit have a very long shelf life, and basic pills like aspirin, tylenol, etc… are replaced every 2 years.
  3. Food: you can use a few of your water bricks to store grains and seeds, but that might lack in flavor for most people. Consider a long-term emergency food storage solution with freeze-dried meals and a few packs of S.O.S. rations.
  4. Light source: having a reliable lantern for your home and flashlights / headlamps for your backpack kit is essential, and they’ll need extra batteries.
  5. Cooking essentials: a portable propane stove (even small backpacking stoves work) and extra propane / isobutane containers for longer periods.
  6. Communication: sure, having a crank radio might prove helpful in the event of an all-out catastrophe but nowadays it’s more probable that your mobile phone will still work, given it has battery. Consider a solar-powered battery charger that can keep cell phones, tablets, etc… charged.
  7. Survival tools: go beyond your swiss army knife, consider a knife and even a good quality hatchet you can trust.

Getting More Specific


You’ll notice the list above includes portable and not-so-portable items. We tried to account for scenarios where an earthquake might force you to stay at home, with heavy storage items like food and water readily available. But if you’re likely to be away from home, your emergency kit will need to fit in one or two backpacks. Additionally, consider your shelter needs – a tarp, hammock, or even a tent can make survival a bit more comfortable.

All-in-One Survival Kits


As with most tasks, it’s cheaper to assemble your earthquake preparedness gear by yourself so you can shop and compare each item. However, that also does take quite a bit of time. We recommend starting with a comprehensive kit like the Guardian Earthquake Survival Kit and then improving upon it overtime. If things do get bad, you’ll at least be covered.

Common Sense Preparations

We can spend hours imagining and prepping for extreme disaster scenarios like a zombie apocalypse or a nuclear war, but the truth is that earthquakes, tornadoes, and wildires are much more common. Luckily, you dont have to be a Ninja prepper to start getting ready.

You may need to survive on your own after an emergency. This means having your own food, water and other supplies in sufficient quantity to last for at least 72 hours. Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster but they cannot reach everyone immediately. You could get help in hours or it might take days.

Additionally, basic services such as electricity, gas, water, sewage treatment and telephones may be cut off for days or even a week, or longer. Your supplies kit should contain items to help you manage during these outages.

Stay Ready, Ninjas!

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