The Big List Of Nasty Disasters: Part Two – Getting Prepared For An Earthquake

The Road Home - Earthquake ThrillerIn “The Road Home” by Andrew Baze, Robbie and his father are camping in the mountains near Snoqualmie Washington when a massive earthquake hits the Seattle area sending shockwaves throughout the region. Now, separated from their family, and miles away home they face numerous obstacles getting back. Will they make it? Read the book to find out.

So, you don’t think you have to worry about earthquakes? According to the official website of the Department of Homeland Security, “All 50 states and 5 U.S. territories are at some risk from earthquakes.” Source:

What Causes An Earthquake?

An earthquake occurs when pressure along fault lines — from moving tectonic plates — reaches a breaking point and shatters underground rock releasing massive amounts of energy in seismic waves that make the ground violently shake.

How The Strength Of An Earthquake Is Measured

For many decades, earthquake scientist, called seismologist, measured earthquakes on the Richter scale, named after the seismologist Charles Richter. However, scientists are now using the Moment Magnitude Scale instead.

Understanding Damage Potential By Magnitude

  • A 2.5 or less = little to no damage.
  • A 2.5 to 5.4 = minor damage.
  • A 5.5 to 6.0 = slight damage.
  • A 6.1 to 6.9 = heavy damage.
  • A 7.0 to 7.9 = major damage.
  • An 8.0 and above = catastrophic damage.

The Five Deadliest Earthquakes

Shaanxi province earthquake of 1556, (January 23, 1556). The Shaanxi earthquake was the “BIG One” regarding human lives lost with an estimated 830,000 people killed. With an estimated magnitude of 8, this earthquake was so powerful it leveled mountains, altered the course of rivers, caused massive flooding and ignited fires that lasted for days.

Tangshan earthquake of 1976, also called the Great Tangshan Earthquake, (July 28, 1976). With a Magnitude of 7.5, this earthquake killed an estimated 240,000-700,000 people.

Aleppo earthquake of 1138 (October 11th). 230,000 estimated dead.

Indian Ocean Earthquake and tsunami of 2004 (December 26th). With a Magnitude of 9.1, the ensuing tsunami killed at least 225,000 people across a dozen countries.

Haiti earthquake of 2010 (January 12, 2010). With a registered Magnitude of 7.0 and aftershocks of 5.9 and 5.5, this earthquake killed an estimated 300,000 people.

Things To Do NOW, Before An Earthquake Hits

Secure large objects

Secure objects such as picture frames, bookshelves, armoires, TV’s, refrigerators, and water heaters that may tip or fall causing injury. Also, repair any loose latches on cabinets and cupboards to prevent items from flying out during an earthquake. Store flammable liquids, pesticides, and poisonous substances in a securely locked cabinet.

Predetermine “Shelter Spots.”

Talk with your family about a safe place to shelter both inside and outside your house and teach them to get there quickly. The safest places are:

  • Under a sturdy piece of furniture. If you reside in an area that is particularly prone to earthquakes, you may want to consider intentionally purchasing sturdy furniture that can provide shelter in an earthquake.
  • Against an interior wall of your home.
  • If in a two-story home, under the stairwell.
  • If outside in an open area away from power lines, tree branches or glass.

Practice to “Drop, Cover, and Hold On!”

If you have young children, practice with them often.

Store Critical Supplies

In an earthquake, your water supply may be disrupted or contaminated, the power grid may go down, your local grocery store may close, you may have to shut off the gas for safety, your house may catch on fire, and you may have to evacuate. Plan for these contingencies.

Water Storage

Plan to have water storage solutions in place as well as the ability to take some water with you in a bug-out situation. In keeping with the FEMA guidelines, store one gallon of water per person per day, with a minimum of two weeks’ supply. WOW! Here are some water storage options.

Foil Water Bags. These bags are fantastic for medium to longer-term storage. You can get them here.

Blue Can – Premium Emergency Drinking Water. With a shelf life of over 50 years, these cans are excellent for long-term storage. They are hermetically sealed, tested BPA Free, No Chlorine or Fluoride purified with 12-step filtration, reverse osmosis, and UV light treatment.

waterBob Emergency Drinking Water Storage. While filling the bathtub is a good idea, it’s not the most sanitary. Water stored in an open bathtub, with dirt, soap film, potentially harsh cleaning chemicals, and exposure to debris can spoil. ThewaterBob solves these problems and provides up to 100 gallons (most tubs hold 35 to 50 gallons) of clean water. It keeps water fresh for up to 16 weeks and includes a siphon pump to dispense the water into jugs or pitchers. Pretty sweet, don’t you think? You can get them here.

Water Barrels.  If you have space, these 55-gallon, food-grade, water barrels are an affordable way to store large amounts of water. II recommend that you replace the water every five years.At 55 gallons per barrel, one barrel will last one person 55 days. You can get your barrels here. To store water in the barrels properly, be sure to use a food grade hose when filling, add water preserver (some say it’s not necessary if using city water which already has chlorine). Don’t forget a pump and smaller bottles such as the Aqua-Tainer for transport.

Food Storage

When planning food storage here are some important things to factor: shelf-life, the number of people to feed, nutrition, transportability, are water and cooking needed, and can this food be palatable for a sustained period?

Freeze-dried food has a very long shelf life.  Typically 20 to 30 years. The process removes 98% of the water content from food and retains 100% of the nutritional content. Freeze-dry at home with this Instructable.

Dehydrated food does not last as long as freeze-dried food — typically 1-8 years. The process removes only 75% of the water content. The remaining water reduces shelf life. Therefore, manufacturers often add salt, sugar, and other preservatives. Of course, if you are dehydrating at home you may or may not use additives. The process removes 50% of the foods nutritional content (because of the heating).

Vacuum-Packed and naturally durable dry foods will last many years when properly packaged and stored. These items include rice, beans, sugar, flour, salt, pepper and dried herbs.

Canned Food can last a very long time. Typical suggestions are 1 1/2 to 5 years. However, just how long canned food will be safe to eat is a little bit of a matter debate. In this article from NPR, it suggests that it is most likely still safe to eat old canned food. And the FDA consumer published this story in 1990,

Canned Food Tips

Check the best by date, or even better get your canned food online.

Canned meat tends to have the longest shelf life.

Never buy dented or damaged cans.

Store in a cool (40 to 70 Degre Fahrenheit), dry, dark place.

If the can is bulging, if it spurts when opened, if there is a bad odor or mold, throw it out.

An essential item is a quality can opener. I highly recommend the (Made in the USA) EZ-DUZ-IT 3028 Deluxe Can Opener $8.99. I have been using this can opener for many years and can guarantee it is well worth the investment. Get two or three. Throw one in the bug-out/camping box.

Additional Supplies

(links are to Amazon and are products that we have tried and tested)

Wind up/solar flashlight, with NOAA radio, and phone charger. I recommend this quality version from Ivation.

First aid kit and medication. Swiss Safe makes a good kit.

First-aid manual. I recommend the American Red Cross Handbook.

Propane stove or other means of boiling water and cooking in a grid down, no natural gas situation.

Covered bucket. Check out the Luggable Loo. It features a seat lid which just might save your hiney from some unnecessary pain.

Fire Extinguisher.

Wrench for turning off utilities.

Prepare a Bug-out Binder

A bug-out-binder is a place where you keep copies (originals if necessary) of all of your relevant documents. I recommend a sturdy, zippable binder like the C-Line expandable binder for this — of course; you can use whatever suits you best. Quick tip: In addition to a bug-out-binder, create a secondary backup binder at a separate location. Also, scan, or photograph, your documents and save them to a USB flash drive. Make backups of the flash drive too.

Quick tip: In addition to a bug-out-binder, create a secondary backup binder at a separate location. Also, scan, or photograph, your documents and save them to a USB flash drive. Make backups of the flash drive too. You can download our bug-out Binder checklist here.

Prepare a Family Communication Plan

This plan should include emergency meeting places where your family will go if you can’t stay in your home. It should include nearby locations as well as locations out of town and out of state. Also, include all contact information for each member of your family, such as phone numbers, email accounts, social media accounts, medical facilities, doctors, and school contacts.

Additional Tips

Cut down large tree branches that are weak and dead to prevent them from falling on you or your house during an earthquake.

Be aware of power lines around your home and property that may fall or break during an earthquake.

Keep sturdy, thick-soled shoes nearby.

What To Do During An Earthquake

Duck, Cover and Hold!

Duck, get as close to the floor as you possibly can.

Cover your neck and head with your arms and get under a sturdy table or desk if there is a clear path and you are not in danger of something falling on your head in the process. If in bed, stay there and cover your neck and head with your arms and pillow.

Hold onto a sturdy object and sway and move with it. Do not try to run outside. Stay where you are and please, keep your hands and arms safely inside the vehicle until the shaking comes to a full and complete stop. (There’s some Disneyland humor for you.)

If you are in a vehicle, find a location where you are not in danger of a bridge or overpass collapsing on you and slowly move to the side of the road.

If you are outside, move to an open space, away from tree branches, power lines, and glass.

Once the shaking stops, go outside and find an open space. The building may still collapse due to an aftershock.

What To Do After An Earthquake

When the shaking stops, check for injuries and administer any necessary first aid.

Also, If you are barefoot, put on sturdy shoes with thick soles and survey the area for damage.

If you smell or hear leaking gas, go outside and shut off the gas, and notify the gas company when you can.

Once it’s safe, check for downed power lines and other potential hazards and stay away.

When you are sure that your home will not collapse, and there are no gas leaks or any other dangers, begin to fill pots, pans, your bathtub, and whatever you can with as much water as possible.

If the power is out, unplug electrical appliances to protect them from a potential power surge that can occur when the power returns. Begin to cook or dehydrate food from the refrigerator before it spoils.

Also, be ready for possible aftershocks.

Press on my friends

BACK TO INDEX: The Big List of Nasty Disasters and How to Prepare: Part One

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