The time to prepare for an earthquake is well before the event. During this time you can calmly create lists of the supplies you need to gather, watch for good prices on these items and take time to think through the emergency actions your family can take. The best way to start your personal earthquake preparedness checklist is to view the lists made available from the American Red Cross or the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and combine them and others to create a customized list that suits your family's needs specifically.
Personal Preparedness Supplies
In the event of a natural disaster, it is likely that public utilities will be unavailable for a significant period of time. You will need to have gathered ample amounts of food, water, medicines and clothing to supply daily needs for each person in your family for anywhere from three days to two weeks, as recommended by the American Red Cross and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Water is the most important supply of all. The rule of thumb is 1 gallon per person, per day. If you can store extra water, it will make personal hygiene and food clean-up much easier. Make a list of the foods that you like that require minimal cooking and stock up on them. Convenience is critically important during a disaster so individual portion sizes may be much easier to use than large amounts--remember that without power there will be no refrigeration.
Don't forget to keep extra medicines and other important medical supplies on hand for emergency use. Not only will communications be disrupted, but in the event of a severe earthquake, travel may become extremely restricted. Also gather a change of seasonally appropriate clothing for each member of your family for protection from the elements if you are forced to quickly evacuate your home. If you have pets to care for after an earthquake, be sure to stock a supply of food and water for them in addition to human family members.
Emergency Activity Supplies
After an earthquake occurs, it is likely that you will need certain supplies to deal with the effects of the disaster in addition to the personal supplies needed to continue with normal daily life. A well stocked first aid kit can literally be a lifesaver if you or a family member is injured during the quake. Be sure to include plenty of basic first aid supplies such as bandages, antibiotic creams, scissors and tweezers, latex gloves and antiseptic to control the spread of infection to others. Gather an ample supply of pain relievers and other non-prescription drugs for temporary but debilitating conditions such as diarrhea, respiratory problems, or allergy symptoms.
Develop a communications plan for your family to enable them to contact one another in case everyone is not at the same location when an earthquake occurs. Designate a person in a different region with whom to check in and report safety and locations.
Include hand tools and nonelectric items such as flashlights, radios and can openers. You may need to dig a latrine if city septic systems are not functional. Think of the things that you would need for a camping trip to a site with no electricity or water and you will have a good list of the items that will do much to increase your family's safety and comfort in the days immediately after an earthquake.
Disaster Recovery Materials
As things slowly begin to stabilize after a severe earthquake, victims must once again shift gears from the logistics of daily life and immediate needs to focus on starting the process of recovery from the disaster. One of the key things needed during this phase of emergency preparedness is money, small bills preferably, to purchase things like gas, additional food and water, pay for transportation to a more distant area, cover hotel rooms and the other myriad fundamentals of life. Most banking institutions in the hardest hit areas will not be open, nor will there be electricity to power credit card machines or automatic teller machines.
Family members may need medical, school, or professional records to enable them to resume even a portion of their previous life in a new location. Wage earners should have available copies of professional certifications, resumes, business contact directories, and any other documentation that could enable them to find employment during the months before things get back to normal. All family members should have identification to prove that they are who they claim to be and pets should have vaccination records.