This morning, most of us in Salt Lake City were awoken with our homes shaking from a 5.7 magnitude earthquake. Throughout the day there have been an additional 80 smaller earthquakes ranging in magnitude from 2.1 to 4.7. Needless to say, our nerves are on end but it is also the perfect time to remember our preparedness for an earthquake or other natural disaster.
As a society we tend to think, "It won't happen to me." When reality hit (quite literally) many of us were unsure of how well we were prepared. We have put together a list of resources to help us and you prepare for what comes next.
Obviously, we need to keep in mind all the hazards in our homes when an earthquake hits. Large items like bookcases, shelving, TV's and heavy pictures should be secured or relocated. Use latches on cabinet doors to prevent objects flying out during the quakes. Ensure that gas appliances and your water heater have flexible connections and don't forget the importance of knowing how and when to shut them off. Have a family earthquake drill set in place so each person knows what to do in case of this situation. FEMA has a great document that you can use to prepare your home from potential problems.
FEMA recommends having certain essentials on hand for emergencies and they have created a great checklist to get you prepared. They generally recommend enough to get you through 72 hours. What better way to store your necessary items than in an Earthquake Disaster Ready Bag? For this purpose, we prefer the 45L Smuggler Duffel Bag. Depending on how large your family is, you may need to increase in size and use a 60L or 85L bag. Made of heavy-duty water resistant PVC tarpaulin and featuring a reinforced double layered 600 denier polyester bottom, these bags are an optimal choice for your emergency preparedness bags. Our duffels also have backpack straps if you need to grab it and go.
- Dried Foods
Food that will keep for a while (non-perishables) such as granola, freeze-dried meals, canned foods, cereals nuts, etc
- Water, Water, Water!
Regardless of the situation or emergency, water is a must! Plastic water bottles are a convenient option but having a back up is always a great idea. We've become fond of HydroBlu's water filters. The Versa Flow Package is our first choice as it's so light-weight and doesn't take up much space. Not to mention the water filters versatility and ease of use.
- Flashlights or headlamps, spare batteries
If the power gets cut during a quake, flashlights are essential to have. Headlamps work great as it leaves your hands free during a crisis. Matches are not exactly the best option if you are uncertain that there are no gas leaks near by.
- First Aid Kit
If disaster strikes, a first aid kit is indispensable. If you or one of your loved ones need immediate medical attention, most kits are packed with enough supplies to at least get you through until you can seek a medical professional.
- Spare change of clothes
Have a complete change of clothes. Warmer clothes are a good idea for your bag because after an earthquake you may not have heat! Try to pack a pair of pants, a jacket, warm socks, etc. Items like beanies and gloves are small and light-weight but can make all the difference in colder temperatures.
For Earthquake preparedness the main goal is to withstand, respond and to recover. Keep these key points in mind when putting together your family Earthquake Disaster Ready Bag.
For more information on creating a get home bag, you can see how our Marketing Director created a get home bag for himself and the way he customized it specifically for an earthquake.
We have added some additional links to resources that may help you better understand how to prepare yourself in case of an earthquake.
FEMA: Scenario 7.0 earthquake along the Wasatch Front in Utah
FEMA: Reducing Earthquake Home Hazards
FEMA: Earthquake Safety Checklist
FEMA: National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program
FEMA: Emergency Earthquake Contact Information
FEMA NEHRP Program Manager
400 C Street, SW
Washington, DC 20472
FEMA NEHRP Senior Program Specialist
400 C Street, SW
Washington, DC 20472
USGS Seismic Hazard Maps
USGS Interactive Fault Map
USGS Earthquake Scenarios