What should you have in an Earthquake Survival Kit?

Not dissimilar from a 72-hour kit, an earthquake survival kit in the context of this post is geared towards keeping in one’s vehicle. While it is also wise to keep supplies at home, this particular kit (in your car) will be available to you both at home or at work (assuming you drive there) and wherever else you might be when ‘the big one’ hits…


An important place to keep an earthquake survival kit is in your vehicle, because while most people do have some basic provisions at home – they have nothing in their cars. Most people work and spend 8-10 hours away from home most every day. Approximately 1/3 of your life is spent at work. Therefore there is approximately a 33% chance that the earthquake will strike while you’re at work.

Very similar to a 72-hour kit, the earthquake kit will contain enough food and water (or means to acquire water) for 3 days, along with other basic supplies to help you through that hypothetical time period.

The following is a list of supplies to consider while building your own earthquake survival kit.
In no particular order,

Keep foods that are compact, calorie dense, don’t require cooking, and will store conveniently enough. Count the calories. Try to achieve 6,000 total calories (2,000 per day). Choose a variety of foods. Calorie-dense food bars are a good choice. All canned food is Okay to eat without cooking (you’ll need a manual can opener). Consider including some sweets like hard candy or even chocolate bars for quick energy. Avoid very salty foods or snacks. Include a spoon for eating – who says you can’t still be civilized during a disaster ;)

Since an earthquake might result in road infrastructure damage, you might have to walk home (or to another place of safety) – so bottled water will be simplest (as opposed to a gallon jug) for traveling while on foot and keeping in your pack (backpack).

Portable water filter
You might also consider a small portable water filter which will be invaluable if you need to resource other water sources. If the earthquake damages water lines, the water will potentially become contaminated.

Even in the summer, it gets cool at night. You do not want to be stranded somewhere without adequate warmth. Select a blanket that will roll up and tie to your backpack if necessary (Fleece, perhaps wool). You might also consider a compact sleeping bag.

Mylar emergency blanket
Also known as a ‘space blanket’, these compact Mylar blankets (the size of a wallet) will reflect lots of body heat back to you if you wrap yourself in it. It’s so small, and so inexpensive, that everyone should have one in each kit. You don’t want to get hypothermia, and this could save you.

A set of comfortable clothes for walking
Bear in mind the season. Consider keeping a change of clothes (depending on how you dress for work) in case you have to walk.

Walking shoes
Again, depending on what you normally wear, they might not be the best for walking. So, keep a pair of walking shoes (and socks) in the vehicle, just in case.

Seasonal outerwear/jacket/hat
Lightweight raincoat or outwear that will protect from wind and rain. Consider an extra hat, gloves, whatever the season calls for.

LED flashlight
Keep a LED flashlight in your kit. It’s generally a good idea to keep the batteries separate and insert them when needed (assuming this kit will most just be sitting idle and unused for a long period of time – at least you hope it remains unused ;) ). Reason being, sometimes a battery will ‘leak’ while inserted for long periods of time, and can corrode the contacts rendering it inoperable.

An all purpose knife will have all purpose uses. Something as simple as a pocket knife.

A ‘must have’ in the event that your vehicle cannot leave the area due to earthquake infrastructure road or bridge damage. Chances are you will be walking somewhere and you will need a backpack of sorts with your earthquake emergency kit supplies inside.

First Aid Kit
At least keep a minimal quantity of first aid supplies like Band-aids, gauze, tape, antibiotic cream, etc..

If you need to walk, especially if you’re outside of your normal travels, a compass (and map) will certainly be helpful – assuming you know how to use it. While in your own local area you will generally know the lay of the land and the direction to travel, if you are caught outside your area of knowledge though, it will be helpful to have the navigational tools to get you where you’re going.

Local and Regional Map
Keep a hard copy map of your area (state, region, etc..). Don’t simply rely on GPS.

Portable AM/FM radio
A small, light weight portable radio will keep you advised of the unfolding disaster. Even a cheap portable pocket radio will suffice.

Paracord (parachute cord) is a very functional ’emergency rope’. Paracord has many benefits and uses including the fact that it’s light-weight, strong (550 pounds), and has unlimited uses. Perfect for helping to make a shelter (e.g drape some plastic sheeting or tarp over a length for shelter, etc..).

Plastic sheeting or Tarp
Plastic sheet material or a tarp will be useful for many things including a makeshift shelter to keep you dry. It will fold up nicely into your pack.

Magnesium/flint, Fire-starter, Tinder
You might need to make a fire – depending on your circumstances. By keeping a Ziploc bag with some tinder (e.g cotton balls soaked in Vaseline) and perhaps a Magnesium Fire-starter, etc.. will help you to make a fire.

Matches/ Lighter
The simplest way to start a fire is to have a lighter! The good old BIC lighter…

Roll of TP
Keep a roll of toilet paper in a Ziploc bag. Just squish it a little bit and it will fit inside to keep it dry.

Emergency documentation list
A list of phone numbers of emergency contacts including relatives, friends, family, your insurance company, your doctor, things like that.

There is plenty more that you might consider, and this short list should get you thinking about it. When thinking in terms of an ‘earthquake’ kit for the car – think about the possibility of having to walk. This means you will be out in the elements, so depending on your environment and season, tailor your supplies accordingly.

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