If you live in a place where earthquakes happen, listen up.
This will give you an idea of what's important to have available to grab at a moments notice.
One thing to keep in mind is that there really is no “perfect” solution for the best emergency kit – of any kind. Every person is different – we don't all live in the same place with the same surroundings, and every person has different skills and skill levels, with different vulnerabilities.
It's important to be honest with yourself about your skills and analyze what will be most important for you and your family.
Thanks to the awesome Graywolf from Graywolf Survival, below is a detailed list of his version of the ultimate earthquake survival kit.
Let’s assume you’re in a decently-sized city and it’s warm out. Otherwise, it starts getting more complicated.
One thing you’ll notice is that this bag is heavy on electronics and light on survival gear. That’s because I’m assuming you live in an urban area and won’t be needing to survive away from buildings and other people.
Your particular circumstances may completely shift what you need to carry.
Just remember that you may be carrying this bag for several miles so don’t overpack it. Once you get it together, take it out for a walk. Remember this about gear you carry: ounces equal pounds and pounds equal pain.
How to make an emergency earthquake bag:
A good backpack/duffel bag
In this particular situation, you probably don’t want to look too high-speed or military. Try to keep your bag plain and tough, and if at all possible – waterproof.
It would also help quite a bit if it were the kind of bag that was both a duffel bag and a backpack, but if I had my druthers, I’d choose a backpack over a duffel bag.
A flashlight for each person
I used to carry flashlights that took CR123A batteries because they’re powerful and I could get batteries from the Army. I’ve now switched over to AA-powered flashlights. AA batteries are everywhere.
This little 7W AA flashlight is pretty freaking awesome. It’s less than $5 and very tough. It’s also like a freaking torch. DEFINITELY get a few of these. You’ll find that you end up getting more and more of them to give as gifts too.
Small car jump starter box
One great little device to have is a small jumper box.
I hear ya out there in your underwear saying ‘WTF? Why would I want to carry something to jump cars?‘
Jumper boxes used to be huge, heavy things you only threw in your car to help someone out who needed a jump. They’re now down to about the size of a USB hard drive and can charge your cell phone or even your laptop in most cases. You do have to balance the weight/space with the benefits but because they’re now about a pound or less, I say carry one.
These things are pretty damn awesome. If you have a medium-sized car and larger, look at something like this one. It has a 16,000mAh battery, which is pretty powerful for these things. If you have a motorcycle or small car, you can go with something less.
A kit like this will also allow you to charge the jump starter using either generated power you come across or batteries from abandoned cars (which would be WAY too heavy for you to lug around with you instead.
Small solar panel
For me, if I find myself in a large-scale earthquake across Los Angeles, I’d rather not have to rely finding a line to stand in to charge my battery, or an abandoned car to break into to get to the battery – especially since the security situation may not be conducive to roaming the streets for such things.
Solar panel technology is now to the point where you can easily pack a collapsible solar panel that you can lay out on the ground or on the roof to charge your stuff.
Keep in mind that you’ll want to also have some kind of either USB battery, or preferably a car jump starter as mentioned above, so you can charge that instead of directly charging your electronics.
AA battery charger/USB device
If you switch to having only flashlights and other things that take batteries to ones that only use AA, it makes things TONS easier. A little device like this Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus will allow you to charge rechargeable AA batteries with the output from a solar panel or portable battery. This means that as long as you don’t lose your batteries, you should never run out of light.
The other thing this handy little device does is allow you to use the power you’ve stored in your rechargeable batteries (or any other charged AA’s that you come across) to charge your USB devices. It’s like a mini USB battery (just with less total power available). It also has a built-in backup flashlight.
This one is not a necessity but it does make things more comfortable.
I searched long and hard for some kind of useable portable lantern solution. Flashlights are extremely useful but they’re not so good for covering an area like a room or picnic bench-sized area.
MPOWERD has a great little thing that’s absolutely PERFECT for this. It’s called the Luci Lantern. It collapses to about the size of a CD case, is waterproof, and charges by just laying it out in the sun. It lasts for quite a while and throws off plenty of light for a small area.
Handheld ham radio
After a large earthquake, you can be pretty sure you won’t be able to use your cell phone, at least any time soon. The best emergency communications solution, by far, is actually a ham radio.
I personally carry a Yaesu VX-6R with an upgraded Diamond SRH77CA antenna. There are certainly other radios you can use but this one can handle being out in a rainstorm or dropped in the water. Pretty much any radio you get is going to need an upgraded antenna because the stock ones suck.
To be able to charge the radio with either my jump starter battery or a vehicle (or my solar panel with the 12v plug adapter if I really needed to), I got the additional Yaesu 12v DC charger. I don’t have to worry about having a dead ham radio.
A radio like this will not only allow you to communicate with others (provided you have a license, which isn’t too hard to get anymore), you can also listen to emergency channels and weather channels so you know what’s going on.
A change of clothes
At least carry some socks. Battles have been lost because Soldiers didn’t take care of their feet.
If you have room, carry a spare pair of pants that aren’t cotton. Cotton doesn’t dry well and will suck the heat right out of you when they’re wet.
Poncho and liner
A good poncho can be a lifesaver if you’re stuck outside overnight, which is why we got them in the Army. It can be worn to keep you dry in the rain or stretched out as a shelter or a blanket.
It’s also useful just to keep all your stuff organized if you want to dump it out on the ground. Go to a surplus store and get a poncho if you can. There are many on Amazon or ebay like this one that would still work but they’re not quite as good
A hat for each person
A hat can help keep you a lot warmer if you find yourself sleeping without heat during a cold night. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t actually lose 80% from the top of your head, but you do lose a lot.
You may be able to skip the hat if it’s warm at night. Just make sure you have sunscreen for your ears and the back of your neck. My outback hat covers all that for me.
A pair of heavy gloves
You’d be amazed at just how quickly your fingers will give out if you’re not used to moving cement and rock all day. After an earthquake, you may find yourself needing to do just that. Gloves can also (obviously) keep your hands warm on a chilly night.
Get a good pair of heavy-duty gloves so you can move what you need to and also give yourself some added protection against being cut or stabbed by sharp objects. Masonry gloves would be what I’d carry if I lived where earthquakes roam.
Carry some freaking water!
One thing you have to have in your car at all times is water. Just do it. You can only go a couple days without water and things get pretty uncomfortable way before that point. I just throw in a case of bottled water in the trunk and leave it there. Take a few bottles out and put in your bag.
Because you can’t possibly carry enough water with you to survive a week (each gallon is over 8 pounds and you’d optimally need 2 quarts to a gallon a day), you’ll need to replenish your water supply with what you can find. Earthquakes can taint the water in the area so ALL of it that’s not in sealed containers is now suspect.
Something like the Sawyer Mini is a very compact and effective solutions, which is why I keep one in each vehicle and each pack I carry. There are chemicals and other dangers that it can’t help you with but it’s a good balance.
Compact stove and pot
With a compact stove and pot, you can boil water to either make it safe or to use in emergency food pouches. You can also use it to stay warm.
I personally have a Solo Stove that’s a pretty cool mini gasifier wood stove. I replaced the pot with a titanium model because it’s tougher and lighter. This allows me to cook with twigs, pinecones, paper, or whatever else like that is around.
A few feet of aluminum foil, folded up nicely, can be great for cooking things. You can also use it to fit an AAA battery into an AA slot or as a fire starter with an AA battery and some of your toilet paper.
A can opener
The easiest can opener to carry would be the old military standby: a P38 can opener (also called a John Wayne by some of my friends). The example link I gave you there also has a P51 can opener.
They’re so small you can carry them on a necklace or on a keyring. They’re named from the number of punctures they make around the cans they open (obviously the P-51 was designed for large cans).
There are tons of options in the way of dehydrated food that you could carry. They pretty much all taste like crap. I actually like some of the MRE meals better than the emergency food I’ve tried.
A better option would be to carry some homemade (or at least store-bought) trail mix – sometimes called GORP. Pound-for-pound, it’s pretty hard to beat and very easy to pack. You could technically go a week without eating and not die, but not only would that be pretty miserable, you’d lose motivation to do things and your thinking won’t be as clear.
Basic survival items
A way to start a fire
If I could only bring one way to start a fire, it’d be a cheap lighter. They’ll work in most cases. Since you’re in an urban environment, it shouldn’t be too hard to come up with a way to build a fire but you’ll have to light it.
I personally carry a Doan Magnesium fire starter as well. Don’t get a cheap knockoff – get the real Doan one.
A good knife
If I only had one thing I could take with me to survive, it would be a good knife. Once you learn how, you can make shelter, fire, fishing/trapping/hunting equipment, protect yourself, or whittle toothpicks with a good knife.
Unfortunately, some of you live in places where you can’t carry a good knife. Move.
I’m not gonna babysit you. Understand your laws. Also understand your right against unreasonable search. Just sayin’.
An emergency whistle
A whistle is not only a LOT louder than you can yell, it requires much less effort so you can do it for much longer. Just keep whistling 3 times every so often as a distress signal if you’re lost or buried.
Get a loud, compact one like this. You may need to plug your ears with something as you blow, and then take them out to listen.
A REAL Emergency blanket
Get a real emergency blanket. I have this one in my bag or behind the passenger seat of my Harley at all times. It’s durable, large enough to be used as a REAL blanket, and has both a reflective side and a colored side. I got orange. It’s cool.
Detailed map of your town
Put a map in your bag that shows friendly “go-to” areas such as police stations, hospitals, and the homes of friends. One of the things you and your family/friends should also work out in advance is a couple of rally points.
Either seal the map in laminate or put it in some kind of waterproof container that can get banged around a bit without breaking.
List of emergency info
In addition to the map, write down the addresses and phone numbers of emergency contacts and friends you have in town. During an emergency, sometimes all you need is one friendly contact to make a huge difference.
Copies of ID cards
Make a copy of all your identification cards in case you lose one of them.
If you have the room, throw in some toilet paper into your bag and make sure it’s in something that will keep it dry. Not only can it double as very good tinder to help get a fire started, you’re a rockstar if you bring toilet paper. Chicks dig toilet paper.
Staying clean isn’t just being a polite citizen. Clean can help keep you from getting sick.
Baby wipes and talcum powder
If you’ve ever been deployed, or even just camping, you know just how awesome it is to have baby wipes with you to take what we call a whore’s bath and then talcum powder for your feet and your nether region.
A couple of tough garbage bags
You never know what you’re gonna face until you face it but garbage bags can help you keep things dry in a rainstorm that you hadn’t planned on or keep things organized if you have more things than you can fit into your backpack.
Here’s just an example list of some medical-related things you might have:
- Basic First Aid Kit
- Medicines you need
In the immediate aftermath of a devastating quake, things will go back to a kind of barter system for a while so prices and values will be whatever the market will bear, and skills can sometimes be more valuable than stuff. Keep that in mind if you need something from someone and you know something they don’t.
Bring some small denomination bills with you. Just don’t flash it around, and don’t keep it all in one place. If someone decides to gank your cash, you don’t want them to get all of it.
You can read even more at Graywolf Survival.
The secrets from that book are about to be revealed together with 3 old teachings that will change everything you think you know about preparedness…