Earthquake Preparedness - How Prepared am I?

In my last post I had a few people ask me what is contained in my emergency kit.

My kit is rather large because I'm of the belief that if a major disaster occurs one will need to fend for themselves for longer than 3 days.  I only have food and water provisions for 3 days but I have some other supplies which might help me for a longer period of time.

I have prepared a small suitcase on wheels and in it I have put a ready made emergency kit and added many other things.  In the store bought kit there are basic medicines and band-aids as well as 3 days supply of food and water. I've added more band-aids and some antibiotic ointment.

The food supplies and water have expired and need to be replaced but I would use them if needed before replacing. I've been researching on line about where I might find and purchase replacements. I think I have to call the stores first to make sure they have what I want. I prefer buying ready made food and water because they are small and packable and not nearly as heavy as packing canned goods and bottled water. If I can get to the Boy Scouts shop or the Travel Clinic I would also like to purchase a Life Straw which is a filter built into a straw.  You can also find a Life Straw on Amazon. One Life Straw will filter up to 1000 liters of impure water without using chlorine or other chemicals. Water purification tablets are also a good idea and I have a box of them.

I thought you might like to see my actual bag and what is in it.

When I open my suitcase to the main compartment it looks like the photo below. In the pockets on the left I have reading glasses and sun glasses. On the right I have my store bought 3 day emergency kit in the red bag (I'll share the contents a bit later in the post).  The burgundy cloth is a pashmina shawl and under it I have a pair of stretch jogging pants as well as a few long tops and a few short sleeved ones as well as socks and undies.  I've also packed a few toiletries (toothpaste, toothbrush, facial wash and hand lotion), facecloths and two small towels.


My suitcase has two main compartments. The second compartment holds small towels, light sticks (a source of light), emergency blankets and waterproof pouches for storing paper items and other things you don't want to get wet, like your cell phone.  I want to put a few paper documents in the pouches too (passport copy, birth certificate and insurance policy) and I hope to prepare these in the next day or two because several of these items have been updated.


Inside my store bought emergency kit there are blue and white packets of water which you see below and the blue shiny packet above at top of photo is the dried food bars. I purchased many other things to add to the bag.


I have added 2 pair of basic work gloves, a stove, some fuel for the stove, toilet paper, whistle, camping matches (they are supposed to help you light a fire even if they get wet), water purification tablets, light sticks (in case one runs out of candles), fire starter, some velcro ties, an exacto knife, a mini magnifying glass, a sewing kit,  a few Tylenol, extra candles, an AM/FM radio and some extra batteries to power it. I also have some silver coins. In the event of some economic collapse I figure that real currency like silver, gold or jewels would be of assistance. One can barter with it. While I don't have family jewels I went and purchased silver coins in smaller units as I couldn't afford gold. These coins might also be useful in an earthquake because one might not have access to ATMs and I'm not sure how far paper money will go.
 

I do not yet have a warm jacket in the kit. I have purchased a packable one and need to pack it before the weather gets cold.

My bag is small but very heavy.  Even though it is on wheels I may need to find a new bag or think about reducing my clothing. The last thing I'm missing is sturdy shoes. I've heard that it is important to have sturdy shoes because there will likely be a lot of glass and rumble to find your way through. I don't have these yet in my kit. My kit is already too heavy.  I need to figure out what to do about this.

I need to try and do that soon because the earthquake forecaster is saying that another larger earthquake will likely hit off the west coast of Canada/ Vancouver in the next few days.  There was a 6.2 earthquake off the coast of Northern Vancouver Island around Port Hardy 6 days ago. See here if you are interested in today's global earthquake update.

In another bag, I have some items like garbage bags, more toilet paper and a crowbar.  I need to check and see if I put a collapsible cooking pot in there. These are " in case" needed  items.  You might wonder about the crowbar.  I  was advised to buy one.  In the event of an earthquake it may be difficult to get in and out of buildings due to shifting ground and buildings being damaged.  I was also told that people who are unprepared may try to steal what others have (the bad side of desperate humans).  If you don't want to lose what you have you need to be prepared to defend your property.

What I Don't Have

I do not have a Grab-and-Go bag. This is a bag you take with you for a quick overnight need. I don't think I can keep track of so many bags and to have everything one needs in several places gets to be expensive.  Ideally one should have an emergency bag for 72+ hours (what I have), a grab-and-go bag and a car bag.

I found the information on a provincial website for a grab-and-go bag (see the graphic below). You can see that it is quite comprehensive and that is why I figured I might as well have a bag that keeps me for at least a few days or more.  I would still like to prepare a modified version of a grab-n-go bag soon.

I don't have an extra phone charger so I haven't packed one in my earthquake kit. There is unlikely to be any electricity for the most part so a charger isn't going to help much. I do own a power bank but it is quite heavy and I use it on a regular basis so I don't want to pack it away. I see a solar charger in the graphic below. I've never seen a solar charger myself but it sounds sounds like a very good idea to have one.

While I have a portable stove and fire starters I also need a Swiss army knife, a collapsible pot, cup and cutlery and a small flashlight. I already have several small flashlights, some collapsible cups and some cutlery. I just need to pack them. I also have a small tin plate that belonged to my great grandmother (the only thing I have of hers) and I'll add this item to the kit as well.

I haven't saved any photographs and I'm not going to bother keeping paper photos.  I have many saved on line and if and when electricity is restored I can access them that way.

I have it on  my list of  'to dos' to talk to my doctor about what to do about extra medications. I don't get prescriptions for extra medicines so I can't add my medicine to the kit. I don't quite know what to do about that. I also have a medical device which runs on electricity. It is too large to put into my suitcase and I can't do that in any case because I need to use it every day. Again I have no idea how to deal with this.

I mentioned that I need to copy my birth certificate, passport and insurance papers.  I already have this information but with the exception of my birth certificate they need to be updated. I  also need to get an extra set of keys for both the grab-and-go bag and the larger earthquake kit. I have several sets of keys already but one is already placed in the house in case I need it and one each given to two different family members.

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   I am not fully prepared yet. I'm hoping and praying for the best as I need more time to get properly and fully ready.

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Grab-and-go.  I got this from the provincial website for earthquake preparedness.  These supplies or a modified version should probably be in a back pack so at the very least you have some basic supplies if you can't access the larger kit.

 

Don't count on being home when there's an emergency. In addition to having one at home, create grab-and-go bags for your work and vehicles that contain:
  • Food (ready to eat) and water
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • AM/FM radio
  • Medications
  • Seasonal clothing
  • Blanket
  • Cell phone charger
  • Pen and notepad
  • Personal toiletries
  • Small First-Aid kit
  • Extra pair of glasses or contacts
  • Cash in small bills
  • Local map with your family meeting place identified
  • Whistle
The challenge in preparing any bag for an emergency or disaster is reminding yourself once or twice a year to check your bag and change out anything that needs changing:  clothing for the appropriate season, expired food and water, medications and batteries for your flashlight or radio.

In Canada we still operate on setting the clocks forward (in Spring) and backward (in Fall) by one hour. That would be an appropriate time to also check supplies and make sure they are up to date. If you live in other parts of the world that are not on Daylight Savings Time perhaps you can set a phone reminder to check supplies at two different times of the year that work for you.


Safety Tips (These tips relate to apartments but some of them are applicable to a house).

  • In the event of an emergency, do not use elevators
  • If your power goes out, know how to navigate your building complex without electronic access 
  • Do not use BBQs or camp stoves in your unit following a disaster
  • Fire alarms and sprinklers may go off: do not panic.
  • Do not flush toilets in case water lines are damaged.
  • For tips on how to respond to specific hazards, visit gov.bc.ca/PreparedBC

Last but not least, I'm dealing with two family members and trying to prepare them. Unfortunately neither of them really believes that anything is going to happen or if they do, they can't be bothered to take time to prepare. Their inaction causes me stress because I don't want loved ones to be unprepared. A few years ago I bought both my younger brother and my nephew a few supplies to get them started and asked them to at least add a few clothing items for themselves in a backpack. I don't know whether they have their bags at the ready but I've recently connected with my nephew's girlfriend and she hopes to get both herself and my nephew better prepared if and when she has time. Currently she is dealing with a family member who is dying.  So she has a lot on her plate.

I'm also telling all my friends and people I come into contact with about the need to prepare. From time to time I am sharing the information on social media and here on the blog. Again, some read or hear and believe but still do nothing to prepare. Others are already nominally prepared and yet others have good intentions to prepare.  I know it took me years of hearing things and trying to educate myself before I actually took some positive action and I am still not fully prepared.

Wherever you live I hope you have an emergency kit. You can turn to it if you have a disaster of any kind. It is a good idea to store your kit outdoors in a space that will hopefully be easy to access. If you live in a house or building and it all collapses it could be difficult to find and access a kit even if you have one. If you live in an apartment there isn't much choice as to where you can store it. This one factor kept me frozen in inaction for many years before I finally decided I would prepare a kit and keep it near my bedside since I couldn't keep it outside.

It is also helpful to check out your neighbourhood before a disaster to see where it might be safe to go in the event of disaster.  It won't be easy in an urban area due to tall buildings and the rubble and glass that can block your path.  There will also be live wires on the ground from telephone poles and so on and fires started by broken gas lines.  If you remain indoors I've been told that you should get under a desk or a table in the event of an earthquake to protect yourself from falling debris. It is not safe to stand under a door frame. 

I hope this post helps someone or motivates someone to get better prepared. I know the information presented  isn't comprehensive but it is a start. Any action you take to prepare yourself or your family is  probably better than no planning at all and quite likely much more than your neighbour has done unless you live in an earthquake zone and have already experienced many large earthquakes. In these places people do tend to be more aware of the need for preparations.  I don't have pets or children so if you have pets or children or both, you need to prepare for them too.

Let me know in the comment section if you have an emergency kit or if you are planning to prepare one.  If you live in an apartment and have a kit I'd like to know how you have stored your things in your apartment or condo. Preparing this post helps me crystallize what I have and what I don't have and will help me continue to refine my kit. It also helped me realize that the food, water and some other supplies are also available through Amazon and maybe it would be quicker to order on line rather than run around to all the local shops which often don't have certain things in stock.

If you want to hear today's Earthquake Forecast you can watch and listen here.  Several significant earthquakes have occurred around the world in the past week and several today (Tuesday, August 28, 2018) alone, in New Zealand, New Caledonia, South California, Timor Indonesia, and Java among others. Earthquakes are forecast in several places in the next few days including for the Philippines.



14 comments:

  1. May you never need all the hard work you have devoted to this.

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  2. Read with a lot of interest. You are good prepared. After reading your blog post, I looked at the site of emergency kits in my own country. Yes there is a site! With a list: what to do in case of... (Terrorist attack, Nuclear disaster etc)

    Thank you so much for your openess about this!

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    1. Thank you Aritha. I'm glad you are finding what you need in your country. It is good to be prepared and like Joanne says above, may we never need what we have prepared.

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  3. Wow you really are prepared. I would end up outside in what I was wearing and nothing else I am sure! Maybe I sould think again! Take care Diane

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    1. Thank you Diane. I am prepared but not as well as I'd like to be. I'm still working on it. I think it would be good if you and Nigel prepared even a grab-and-go bag and had a few supplies in your car trunk/boot. Have a wonderful week ahead.

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  4. You're wise to be well prepared. We don't have such a risk. My son is in Maple Ridge so I have to ask him what he has for emergencies.

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    1. Yes please do ask him. Hopefully he is prepared.

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  5. Wow. Just wow. I have to say I have never thought about this. Never really had to -- not living in an area likely to be evacuated or in that kind of danger. I know what I would grab from the house but nothing is packed, good to go as you have here. Bravo. You look (very nearly) ready -- and far more ready than I would be. But I hope you never have to use it.

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    1. Yes I'm very nearly ready and I managed to copy my documents today. I will add a few things to the kit tonight and place a small order with Amazon for those last few items. After that I can see about which bag to use and making a smaller 'grab-and-go' back. I hope too that I never had to use any of it but it gives a small peace of mind to know I have it.

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  6. I'm really impressed by your planning and what you have done. I hope you never have to use it, but if you do you'll be so glad you did it. We have a small emergency kit, but I need to do more, especially after seeing this.

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    1. Thank you Mari. I appreciate your kind words. I too hope I never had to use what I've prepared but if I ever do need it I'll be so glad I have it. I hope you can expand your kit to meet your needs where you live.

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  7. Hi Joyful, I agree with the others, may you never need to use it, but its great you have done such an amazing preparation! Thank you for sharing, I did want to know as I have a few `starts` for a bag. When we actually did evacuate once we ended up just taking a pillow (and maybe a few other items but I remember it was not much!) and going to a nearby shelter to spend the night. But that was after the big earthquake last year, and just we were scared to be home as there were so many continuing after shocks, so its a little different, in terms of how we `packed`. At that time we just wanted to be with others, as it was two nights of being up all night with the continual shaking, and we wanted to be with community. Since then I have wanted to be more organized, so I will see if I can get it together. And of course that there won`t be a need to use it. God bless you and keep you safe in His great wings of protection and love!!

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    1. Hi Shayndel, I'm so glad you've shared your experience with the earthquake because sometimes I think people don't believe earthquakes can really happen to them! It's also good to hear how others have coped and prepared. I certainly understand wanting to be with others after constant shaking. I'm sure I'd feel the same. I have been in two earthquakes over time (one here and one in San Francisco) which weren't as large as the one expected here one day. Both were scary enough and the shaking you don't forget. I do hope and pray that you will now get started on a emergency/earthquake kit because where you live another earthquake is going to occur. No question about it. May God keep you and your loved ones safe also.

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