Earthquakes don't last very long – only a few minutes – but the aftermath can stretch on for days, weeks or longer. Unfortunately, we are a long way from being able to predict earthquakes with any real accuracy. This is why it is so important to be prepared for one,just in case.
Even if you don't live in an “earthquake zone” or near a major fault line, you should be ready for a quake. Earthquakes have been known to occur in places no one would ever expect and where buildings are not engineered to withstand a quake like they are in California, for example. When that happens in an unusual location, the population is even less prepared and the effects can be even more devastating, even more reason to be ready.
When the earth stops moving, you will likely have to deal with being without electricity and running water for an extended period of time, have no heat or AC and limited, if any, communication. There will also be added dangers posed by downed power lines, gas leaks and collapsed or collapsing structures.
Having an emergency earthquake kit is vital, but collecting the supplies you will need ahead of time doesn't have to cost a lot of money out of your pocket. Common household items you already have or can purchase at discount stores are really all you need, it is just a matter of collecting them and keeping them together in a safe, accessible place, should the need arise.
This list of 20 inexpensive items that will help you survive an earthquake and the aftermath are easy to find and work well for any natural disaster, though the list was made with earthquakes in mind. Some are common sense, others are uncommonly clever, but they all will be invaluable to you in a worst case scenario.
20 Garbage Bags = Makeshift Tarp
Large, heavy-duty garbage bags are inexpensive and have multiple uses. Use them as makeshift tarps, to seal broken windows, haul belongings, or even to collect water in, if you have to. The possibilities are endless.
19 Duct Tape = Seal Broken Windows
All joking aside, there isn't much you can't fix with a roll of duct tape. Use it to seal broken windows with garbage bags and patch or repair numerous items. It also can be written on with a permanent marker and is a great way to leave an important message for rescuers or loved ones you might get separated from.
18 Permanent Marker = Write Important Messages
If you have to write something in an emergency situation, it might as well be indelible. Markers are great for leaving messages on duct tape. It is also the best way to write your blood type and any serious medical conditions on your hand or forearm, in case you are unconcious.
17 Glow Sticks = Source of Light
After an earthquake, downed power lines and possible gas leaks make lighting a candle very dangerous. It will also be extremely dark. Save your batteries and flashlights for when you need a lot of illumination, when you only need just enough light to see by or to mark an area, go with glow sticks.
16 Flashlights = Light Source
This one is pretty self-explanatory. It is a good idea, however, to periodically test the flashlights you have on hand to make sure they are operational.
15 Baby Wipes = Help You Clean Yourself Up
Baby wipes are the little miracle you never want to be without. Inexpensive and easily stored in sandwich baggies, you can never have enough of these during an emergency. They will make you feel fresh and human during the worst disaster and come in especially handy if you have a baby.
14 Zip-Lock Sandwich Bags = Perfect mini Storage
These are the one thing you never know you need until you wish you had them. Perfect for storing and keeping just about anything safe from the elements. Tuck away extras, just in case.
13 Important Documents = Prove Your Identity
If at all possible, it is crucial to have the originals or copies of vital records for identification and important documents, like insurance and bank information, on hand. This will help you prove who you are and what you own, should the need arise.
12 Medication Lists and Contact Information = Vital Information
If you and your medication are parted during an earthquake, it is important that you have a printed copy of all the medications you need. You should also have a list of important contacts and phone numbers, since your cell phone won't last forever.
11 Battery Operated Alarm Clock/Radio = Keep the Time
A battery operated radio is a must have in any emergency. If you, like most of the human race, use your cell phone as an alarm clock, you'd better have a back up. A battery operated travel alarm clock radio is cheap and small.
10 Whistle = Alert Rescuers
A common whistle could be a lifesaver – literally. Use it to alert rescue workers or loved ones to your location. Batteries are not required and it will never break down.
9 Spare Keys = You Won't Have To Search The Rubble
How awful would it be if your car was undamaged but your keys were buried in rubble? Or if your house keys were lost in the wreckage of a car you managed to escape? Keep a complete set of keys – house and car – in with your emergency supplies and you won't be sorry
8 Cash in Small Bills = ATM's Will be Down
ATMs are likely to be down and with no power and cash is key. Keep as many small bills, $10 and under – as you can spare in case of an emergency.
7 Batteries = Power Necessary Objects
This is a no-brainer, but what you might not think about is keeping your need for batteries simple by making sure your emergency supplies that require batteries all need the same type or as close as possible. Batteries are heavy and if you have five flashlights that need four different kinds of batteries you are going to have a lot to lug around and keep track of.
6 Waterproof Matches = Source of Fire
Playing with fire is not recommended when the possibility of gas leaks and other combustible hazards abound – which is why you don't see candles on this list. However, the likelihood that you will need matches for some reason during an emergency is pretty strong. Best to be prepared.
5 Can Opener = Save From Starvation
This one is self explanatory. Though a can opener doesn't have multiple uses, its main purpose is pretty important. Nothing is worse than a can you can't open when you are hungry.
4 Camp-stove and Sterno Fuel = Use to Boil Water
A portable camp-stove and the fuel to use with it will make your canned food more palatable and will also be the best and possibly only way to boil water.
3 First Aid Kit and Manual = Dress Wounds
This might be the priciest item on the list, but it also is the one most likely to save your life. Invest in a good one.
2 Bandana = Dust Mask
The good, old fashioned bandana has a lot of potential uses, but for an earthquake, you'll most likely need to wear it as an impromptu dust mask to protect you from breathing dangerous air caused bu fire and collapsed buildings.
1 Pocket Knife = Weapon
The more utilities included in your pocket knife, the better off you will be. Get the kind that can attach to your belt loop so you won't loose it.
You'll notice that this list does not include canned food, water or medication, as these items are emergency must-haves that should be at the top of anyone's list. Three days of food and one gallon of water per person per day is the standard recommendation.
While this list is not conclusive, it does include easy to acquire, inexpensive items that will help you survive should a devastating earthquake occur. Use your common sense to enhance this list and you will be fully prepared if the time comes
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