Every couple of months a new article comes out reminding the world of the earthquake risk faced by the West Coast. Most residents know that an earthquake is expected to hit sooner or later but many are not as prepared as they should or could be. It’s easy to assemble a basic earthquake kit and to have some general supplies stashed in your home or garage in case of an emergency.
The type of kit you assemble depends on where you live. If you are in a location that is at risk of being hit by a tsunami you want a lightweight and simple kit that you can grab as you head out the door for higher ground. Keep good shoes near the door. You will need to be able to walk safely and there will likely be broken glass on the ground. It is more important to get to high ground than it is to have a kit with you. You will have about fifteen minutes to get to high ground and should expect to stay there for twelve hours or more hours. Low lying areas of Vancouver are at risk including beaches, the Seawall, Port Alberni, Richmond and Delta. Research whether your home or office is in a tsunami zone and make an evacuation plan.
If you are not in an area that is at risk of being hit by a tsunami then you should be concerned about having a supply of food, water and first aid necessities. By being able to take care of yourself for a week or two you don’t have to worry about relying on government supplies and first responders. It can be expensive to assemble supplies so you can buy them over time or gather items you already have in your home and garage.
The first thing you will need is food and water. Have a minimum of three days of food and water for everybody in your home. Have supplies for pets as well. Having enough for two or more weeks is better. It may take this long for supply routes to be established. Buy canned and packaged food that can be eaten without needing to be heated up. Keep a non-electric can opener with your food supply. Each person in your home will need 4L of water per day. You can go out and buy this much water in jugs. You can also wash out used milk jugs — 4L jugs are especially handy — and fill them with tap water.
You will also want a flashlight or lantern. If it is battery operated store it with spare batteries. Crank flashlights are great because they don’t need batteries. Have a small radio with extra batteries for emergency updates. Have ponchos, tarps and strong garbage bags. Have tools to turn off the gas and water. Check for gas and water leaks. If you smell rotten eggs leave your home immediately.
Assemble or buy a first aid kit. Since it will be kept in your home you want to have one with as much variety as possible and don’t need to worry about keeping it small. Keep medications you might need in it. You should also have a dust mask, whistle and work gloves. Place photocopies of important documents and contact information in a waterproof bag. Have pens and some paper for writing on.
You car is another good place to keep basic earthquake supplies. You want these to be small and easily portable. Recommendations range from a good pair of shoes, granola bar and water bottle to more extensive kits. You can assemble your own kit or buy one. They are available at the UBC bookstore and online. For DIY kits include food that won’t go bad like a granola bar, water, blanket, spare clothes, good shoes for walking in, first aid kit, flashlight and whistle. Other items to keep in your car for general emergencies include sand, salt or kitty litter, antifreeze and road flares.