Living in earthquake country

Or: how I satisfy my inner doomsday prepper

Well, there ‘s been an earthquake here. It happened in the middle of the night. We both slept through it, though and I only heard about it when I met up with some people the next day. Oh well 🙂

Still, even though you can sleep through many of them, people here really do stress the importance of being prepared for an earthquake. The Great California Shake Out is a good example. And when we moved into our apartment we were given a packet of informational leaflets including a Red Cross pamphlet about being prepared. All this is music to my ears.

You see, back when I lived alone people who accidentally glimpsed my stashed supplies liked to joke about how I could easily survive a decent nuclear winter in my apartment. I’m a hamster when it comes to usable things such as dry goods, canned food and toilet paper. Beloved thinks I take it way too far (he’s likely right – I think that I used to store over four times the recommended amounts of supplies), but even he agreed that moving to California probably warranted some dedicated preparation.  And so, I embarked on Project Bug-Out Bag, aimed  at keeping two people safe and comfortable outdoors for 72 hours.

Here are most of our accumulated supplies:

Picture by me.

4 gallons of water

tablets for water purification

a sterno stove


a first aid kit

asthma medication (that’s the little purple box with Russian / Greek / something (?) script)

dust masks

trash bags (for waterproofing and because we have no tarp)

ziploc bags (for keeping small things safe from water)

some small tiewraps (no single pre-built kit names these, but I figure they’re useful)

some twine

some stronger rope

a box cutter

solar powered flashlights with a back-up battery and a head lamp with a normal battery

a small radio with batteries

Not pictured, but still included: lighters, sleeping bags, sterno for the stove, smaller water bottles for accessibility

Still needed: food, multitool / an actual knife, a pot for cooking food (depending on food choice), clothes, copies of passports, some cash.


Picture by me. This is the BOB (Bug-Out Bag)

At this moment most of the supplies from the first picture are packed up in the bag in picture two. The thing is uncomfortably heavy, but considering that it is a very standard size back pack, I was quite pleased with how much fit in. I could not pack all of the water (there are two gallons in there, though) and I packed enough candles for 120 hours of burn time (60 if you burn two at the same time), keeping the other ones tucked away elsewhere.

I plan on finding another bag (secondhand, ideally, I’m cheap like that) for dividing the weight and increasing carrying capacity. That’s when I can look out for some freeze dried meals / granola bars or other lightweight food choices as well. I’m thinking of using some of the rope to just tie the sleeping bags to the backpacks as well.

Once the rest of the kit is also securely packed, I can just stash the bags out of sight, knowing that if the Big One hits, we have a decent chance of not succumbing to exposure or thirst before help comes in. That idea really helps me sleep through the ‘little ones’  at night 🙂


5 Responses to “Living in earthquake country”

  1. 1 Tania Elizabeth October 22, 2013 at 12:43 am

    I’ve always thought about having a “Go Bag” just in case I have run out of the house in a hurry but I’ve only gone as far as having my passport in my backpack at all times, not that I need it to travel here in the US, but you know… we did prepare before hand last year when we knew Sandy was going to hit us, but I can’t say we are prepared now.

    Have you thought about getting a hiking backpack? I have a few friends who own them and they love them since they can pack it to the brim, and they’re easier to carry.

    • 2 thesmittenimmigrant October 22, 2013 at 4:03 am

      Oh yeah, I’d love to get one (or two) hiking backpacks as BOBs. We already have a pair, but use those very regularly (we take them shopping since the closest story is a half hour walk away), so they can’t be packed with emergency supplies all the time.

      I’m keeping my eyes open for finding one or two second hand ones, because I don’t really want to spend the money on new ones if I can at all avoid it and hiking packs really are ideal for this kind of stuff.

      What kind of natural disasters is your area prone too? Sandy was a bit of an exception, I thought, or do you get hurricanes often?

      • 3 Tania Elizabeth October 22, 2013 at 3:44 pm

        Wow, half hour walk away??? The *closest*? I guess I take living in NYC and having everything pretty close by for granted!

        Yeah, it was the exception. We get the occasional downpour and flooding, but I don’t think it’s any more serious than other parts of the country. We did get a snowstorm last winter but didn’t affect us to the point where we *should* have been prepared before hand. We also felt the aftershock of the earthquake in D.C a few years back but I don’t remember hearing about any damages. For some reason here in the city things are never as bad as if you go upstate or how they are in CT and NJ. A threat of a terrorist attack is always a lot stronger than a threat from nature, so I guess we should prepare for *that*.

  2. 4 householdzes October 22, 2013 at 5:22 am

    Living in Alaska, we have had to endure the many earth quakes here we have, too. Living in a state with on average 2000 earth quakes a month, and many fall wind storms and power outages, we prepared an emergency kit ourselves (more of the prepper style kind) last year, and expanded that with the placement of our two children.
    Something I never thought I had to do 10 years ago before I moved to the USA from the Netherlands, but now is a most common thing to do and keep up with now living in an earth quake ridden state.
    Mind you, I easily sleep through most of them and won’t know we had one until I read it on the internet in the morning. Haha. But the ones during the day (like the 20 second 5.9 we had this year), I definitely felt. We had poweroutages last year due to windstorms (called hurricanes on the east coast).

    – Marianke

  3. 5 Amanda October 22, 2013 at 11:03 am

    We should probably do something like this, we have tea candles, but no flashlights in the apartment. And if something would happen, there would be no food as we have almost no stock on anything.
    I hope you don’t have to use all of that stuff though (except maybe camping or on other fun trips!)

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